The WonkLine: September 11, 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

The Washington Times reports that eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks, current and former top U.S. intelligence officials say U.S. and allied forces have decimated al Qaeda’s leadership but that the organization remains a “determined adversary.” Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, called the U.S. record against al Qaeda “mixed.”

VOA reports that there are indications that insurgents in Afghanistan are continuing to widen their reach inside the country. The International Council on Security and Development has released a new map showing, for the first time, the Taliban have a “permanent presence” in 80 percent of Afghanistan.

According to the Telegraph, a Russian newspaper reported that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a secret visit to Moscow last Monday to discuss Russian arms shipments to Iran and Syria.

Climate Change

“An open-air farmers market with as many as 20 vendors will operate just north of the White House on Thursday afternoons this fall,” the Washington Post reports. The vendors’ debut “will mark the return of a fresh produce market that once stood nearby during the administration of Thomas Jefferson.”

Last night, the New York State Senate “passed a major bill championed by the Working Families Party to make energy efficiency upgrades to one million homes and businesses over the next five years.”

The European Union’s commissioner for the environment sought yesterday “to tamp down expectations that wealthy nations would immediately hand over vast sums of money demanded by developing countries to manage global warming.” Such funds “cannot be a blank check,” the commissioner, Stavros Dimas.


The Department of Labor released a report yesterday showing that “children and forced laborers are mining gold, sewing clothing and harvesting cocoa around the world, and India is the source for the biggest number of products made by these workers.” This is the first time the Department has released such a report.

Warren Buffet told Senate Democrats yesterday that wealthy Americans need to pay higher taxes, adding that “because of the cuts to the capital gains tax passed under former President George W. Bush, he pays taxes at a lower rate than some of his company’s employees.”

Philip Augar and John McFall write that truly fixing the financial system means breaking up the big banks.


The Washington Post clears up myths and misinformation about undocumented immigrants receiving free health care benefits.

The New York Times tells the story of a mentally ill immigrant with no criminal record who fled China after being forcibly sterilized and was recently freed on bail by immigration authorities who locked her up for a year and a half, often in solitary confinement, without a lawyer.

Police are investigating whether the same group of boys (ages 11-14) who were charged with hatefully beating a sleeping Guatemalan man because of his ethnicity, are also responsible for the attack of another Guatemalan immigrant two weeks prior.

Health Care

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) responds to the president’s openness to medical malpractice reform: “”I don’t think anything would satisfy Republicans except a $250,000 [medical malpractice] cap,” Grassley said, but added, “I’m going to look at anything – anything that might cut down on defensive medicine.”

The Huffington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “caused some confusion on Capitol Hill Thursday when he described an elaborate hypothetical situation in which he could accept health care cooperatives as an alternative to a public health insurance option.”

Will abortion funding become the next ‘death panels’?