The WonkLine: September 30, 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.




Nike becomes the fourth company in a week to resign from the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because “we fundamentally disagree with the US Chamber of Commerce on the issue of climate change.”

As Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) prepare to introduce comprehensive clean-energy jobs legislation today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he could “never, never, never” support it.

“A green power building spree is on the way,” as Bechtel, the largest U.S. engineering group, and Fluor Corp. the biggest publicly traded U.S. engineering company — who have built coal and nuclear plants in the past — win contracts to build renewable-energy plants.


The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Inspector General has “recommended more than 50 steps to strengthen the agency’s enforcement and compliance divisions and prevent a repeat of the failures that let Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scam continue operating for years.”

According to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, “the White House is concerned by lawmakers’ moves to scale back the size and reach of [the] proposed consumer financial protection agency.”

In a new report “that has brought widespread praise from economists as a thorough analysis of the system’s health,” the International Monetary Fund claims that “only a thorough restructuring of the financial system could prevent a return to crisis and pave the way for solid growth within the next 18 months.”

Health Care

Roll Call reports that the White House has been “secretly drafting its own health care legislation that it may unveil at some point during the debate if officials believe it would help secure passage of a bill, according to sources familiar with the effort.”

A new poll conducted by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health “finds that, so far, the public feels profoundly shut out of the current health overhaul debate.” Seventy-one percent of respondents said “Congress was paying too little attention to what people like them were saying.”

The New York Times’ David Leonhardt explains “how a tax can cut health costs.”


Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) have introduced legislation that would toughen the rules on the H-1B high-skilled visa program and require employers to prove that there are jobs available.

The Jordanian teen accused of plotting to blow up a Dallas office tower came to the US legally with a visitor visa which he overstayed.

Kansas City public radio points out that language barriers and a lack of credit history made many immigrants vulnerable to predatory lenders and has presented a particular set of challenges to the many who are now facing foreclosures.

National Security

On Tuesday, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, General Odierno, claimed that American troops in Iraq could be removed “even before the end of next summer if the expected January elections in Iraq went smoothly.”

U.S. officials attribute recent successes against al-Qaeda to “improved recruitment of spies inside the al-Qaeda network, along with increased use of targeted airstrikes and enhanced assistance from cooperative governments.”

Yesterday, the U.S. State Department announced that a previously undisclosed brief visit to Cuba by a State Department official transformed into “a six-day stay that included meetings with officials, opposition figures and people from Cuban civil organizations.” While State Department spokesman said, “I wouldn’t characterize this as any kind of a breakthrough,” the “invitation to extend the visit appeared to be another sign of a warming of relations that has occurred under the Obama administration.”