The WonkLine: August 21, 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.




The New York Times reports that “Switzerland became the first European economy to dispose of its holding in a distressed domestic bank on Thursday, selling its 9 percent stake in UBS at a profit of more than $1 billion only a day after agreeing to release information to the United States on clients suspected of evading taxes.”

Ben Miller at The Quick and the Ed slams the Wall Street Journal for an editorial on student loans that is “a greatest hits of convoluted and poorly presented conservative talking points.”

Media Matters notes that Fox News’ Sean Hannity is “still confusing GOP Rep. Bachus with Dem Sen. Baucus to mislead on Social Security.”

Climate Change

At a “hot air” rally with Americans for Prosperity, Dan Pochick, president and CEO of Rish Equipment Company and chairman of the West Virginia Coal Association’s Associate Division, claimed that “scientists were still divided about whether carbon dioxide emissions were affecting the world’s weather.”

Operation Free, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and national security organizations, “slammed the ‘Energy Citizens’ Astroturf campaign orchestrated by the American Petroleum Institute and other Big Oil interests as a detriment to America’s energy security.”

Missouri needs to have coal,” Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO) told State Fair participants, “to provide the power in the short run and we’ll make sure Missouri’s interests are protected.”

Health Care

President Obama reassured his supporters at an Organizing for America event yesterday: “We’ve been through this before…There is something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up,” recalling that around this time last year, the media was claiming, “Obama’s lost his mojo.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared that there’s “no way” she can pass a health reform bill through Congress “without a public option.

Health insurer United Health Group is asking its employees to lobby their members of Congress, attend health care town halls, and express opposition to a public plan.


Yesterday, President Obama “dropped in on a White House meeting with more than 100 immigration reform backers,” making clear that he would “push for immigration reform even as the health-care debate continues to unfold.”

A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a class-action lawsuit brought by immigrant detainees against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement — which is accused of having unfairly denied their right to a hearing.

NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has shut down the operation of three businesses accused of having “defrauded clients who were seeking help with their immigration status. ”

National Security

Reuters reports that “the German government said ahead of a visit next week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that urgent action was needed on Israeli settlements in the West Bank in order to move towards peace in the Middle East.”

Some Scots have expressed their “shame” at their government’s release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Pan Am Flight 103 bomber. “I have never been ashamed to see my country’s flag waved before, but to see it misused to celebrate mass murder is outrageous,” Russell Brown, a member of Parliament, said. “This man is convicted of murdering 270 people in my part of Scotland and that conviction stands.”

Al Jazeera reports that “a high-level North Korean delegation has arrived in South Korea to join in the national mourning of Kim Dae-jung, the former president. The team of six, including two senior officials, arrived by special plane at Seoul’s Gimpo airport on Friday. They were due to visit a mourning altar for Kim at parliament.”