The WonkLine: August 5, 2009

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 10 a.m. roundup of the latest news about health care, the economy, national security, immigration and climate policy. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below, and subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, you can now follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.



National Security

Embattled Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in as president for a second term yesterday with “riot police out in force in nearby streets to foil any protests by opponents who say the election was rigged.”

American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee returned to the United States today, ending their nearly five months-long imprisonment in North Korea after former President Bill Clinton secured their release in a meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

Speaking at a trade conference in Kenya at the beginning of her seven-nation African tour, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the U.S. would reorient its Africa policy towards increasing trade rather than aid. “We want to be your partner, not your patron,” Clinton declared.

Climate Change

“There is no one in the world who is more keen than us to see China reach its emissions peak as early as possible,” China’s climate change ambassador, Yu Qingtai, said on Wednesday. “We know that addressing climate change is in the fundamental interests of our country.”

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan pledged “to work with grass-roots organizations” to ensure “low-income communities may participate in the emerging green economy” with the Green the Block initiative

Politico: “The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a lobbying group reviled by environmentalists, plans to target Democrats at home over the August recess with online, radio, billboard and, likely, television advertising.”


According to its latest filing with the SEC, Goldman Sachs “made more than $100 million in trading revenue on a record 46 separate days during the second quarter, breaking the previous high of 34 set in the prior three months.”

Bloomberg reports that “the U.S. Senate is poised to inject $2 billion into the ‘cash for clunkers’ program, as Democrats secured enough support to pass the measure and Republicans said they won’t block a vote.”

Simon Johnson looks at the testimony Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan gave before the Senate Banking Committee yesterday: “[H]is whole testimony sounds like it comes from a parallel universe — one that did not just experience the biggest banking crisis in world history.”


In the 10 anti-immigration sweeps run by Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio since March 2008, deputies have arrested 552 people, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Fewer than half were actually in the country illegally.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that two men are filing a suit against the state of Pennsylvania “claiming that they — and more than 1,000 people like them across Pennsylvania — are being detained indefinitely with no chance to make bond.”

In a question and answer session with USA today Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said “Whenever I hear somebody say, ‘The border’s out of control!’ I know that that’s somebody who’s just trying to gin people up because, in reality, there is way more physical infrastructure, technology and manpower down there than there ever was.”

Health Care

What can we learn from California’s failed effort to allow small businesses to purchase health insurance through Exchanges?

According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, “nationwide, more than $52 million has been spent this year on health-care reform-related ads.”

Jonathan Cohn points out that despite organized demonstrations against Democratic town halls, “the mob is not the majority.”