The WonkLine: September 10, 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.



Health Care

Last night, President Barack Obama urged a joint session of Congress to pass comprehensive health care reform by the end of this year. “I’m not the first President to take up this cause,” Obama said, “but I am determined to be the last.” Obama invested his case “with both economic and emotional urgency — particularly when he invoked the memory of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.”

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), giving the Republican response to President Obama’s health-care address to the nation, “urged Democrats to abandon their ‘government-run’ approach and ‘start over.'”

The Hill is reporting that “a top Blue Dog is calling for a truce in the war of words with liberal members of the Democratic Caucus who have been firing off insults at Blue Dogs who slowed the progress of health legislation.”

Climate Change

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), who ran Bush’s Department of Agriculture until 2007, claimed energy reform legislation would be disastrous for agriculture: “”If you are in the dairy industry, which is absolutely going broke at the moment, if you’re in the pork industry — and one pork producer recently said to me, he said ‘I’m 30 days from being bankrupt’ — if you’re in the cattle industry that hasn’t made money for two years, this is pretty much a disaster for them, isn’t it?”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday “unveiled a new carbon tax to help combat global warming,” of 17 Euros per ton of carbon dioxide, “calling it a ‘fiscal revolution’ and overriding strong public opposition to the plan.”

“The beleaguered American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity lost another member on Wednesday when Alstom Power, a French manufacturer of power plant parts, announced it was leaving the coal and utility coalition.”


The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is preparing to wind down an emergency program that guarantees the debt of banks, “which could become an early test of how the banking industry will fare without extraordinary government assistance.”

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) said yesterday that he will “tweak” Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) legislation allowing an audit of the Federal Reserve in order to “ameliorate concerns” about threatening Fed independence. The revised language will be included as part of a broad regulatory reform package.

At the New America Foundation, Chris Hayes makes the case for inflation.


Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) said that he was leaving the Senate with pride, a “heavy heart” and regrets associated with Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

True Slant warns that Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), who yelled “you lie!” at President Obama, may be a “prophet of the coming immigration wars.”

The Migration Policy Institute issued a report noting that better-record keeping on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could ensure that dangerous immigrants remain in custody and would help the agency operate its highly-criticized detention system “safely and lawfully.”

National Security

VOA reports that the commission investigating reports of vote fraud in Afghanistan’s presidential election is invalidating the ballots from polling stations in two provinces. In a statement explaining its decision, the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission cited “clear and convincing evidence of fraud,” including unfolded ballots, uniformity of markings and lists of voters with fictitious card numbers.

According to the Jerusalem Post, just a day after Iran presented world powers with a proposal for new talks, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Teheran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggested that any negotiations with Western powers would not address the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

The New York Times reports that flash floods killed at least 31 people in and around Istanbul on Wednesday, as the area continued to struggle with its heaviest rainfall in 80 years.