The WonkLine: September 28, 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 Post writes that “Iran reported Monday that it successfully test-fired its most advanced and powerful medium-range missiles as part of war games it said were intended to deter the country’s enemies.”

The New York Times reports that Liz Cheney is becoming a “red state rock star” by vigorously tending the legacy of her father, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, and continuing to champion his failed national security policies.

Robert Satloff becomes the latest conservative to cheerlead for Israeli intransigence on settlements, and criticize the Obama administration’s attempt to hold Israel to its commitments.


For the first time ever, the census questionnaire will be distributed in two languages, Spanish and English, to 13.5 million households in predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.

Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said that though he “fully expects” comprehensive immigration reform to be addressed next year, lawmakers “should make down payments by passing smaller-scale reforms” if elections and a hostile political climate cause further delay.

Public health officials are mobilizing to educate and vaccinate approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants against the H1N1 virus.

Health Care

The White House is considering improving the affordability of health care reform by “exempting more families and individuals on the basis of income from the penalty for failing to buy insurance, a fine that for families could run as high as $1,900.”

The Los Angeles Times worries that Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) health care bill will allow insurers to write the rules. “Healthcare overhaul legislation moving through the Senate Finance Committee would put crucial rule-making authority in the hands of a private association of state insurance commissioners that consumer advocates fear is too closely tied to the industry.”

Paul Begala is optimistic. “Hey, fellow progressives, I have a secret for you: We’re winning on health care,” he writes.


According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate for young Americans is at a post-World War II high of 52.2 percent, “meaning millions of Americans are staring at the likelihood that their lifetime earning potential will be diminished.”

The Financial Times reports that a “recent rally in the markets for ‘toxic’ securities could deliver a significant boost to US banks’ third-quarter earnings if financial groups decide to book accounting gains on assets that caused them billions of dollars in losses during the crisis.”

Obama administration officials say that they are “close to committing as much as $35 billion to help beleaguered state and local housing agencies continue to provide mortgages to low- and moderate-income families.”

Climate Change

”The death toll from a storm that ravaged the Philippines over the weekend reached at least 100 on Monday, with many more deaths expected and thousands of Filipinos still trapped in their homes by floodwaters.”

New York Times columnists Paul Krugman and Tom Friedman discuss the imminent threat of global warming, right-wing lies about clean energy action, and how China is outpacing the United States in the clean energy race.

A federal judge said Friday he’s reluctant to “open this courtroom to a lengthy hearing on global warming” in the case of Tim DeChristopher, a “Utah college student charged with disrupting a federal oil and gas lease auction for parcels near several national parks.”