The WonkLine: October 9, 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.



Climate Change

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu cut the ribbon for the Solar Decathlon on the National Mall, with twenty prototype solar homes built by university teams from California, Minnesota, Virginia, and other states and countries competing in sustainability, efficiency, and design challenges.

In an emergency meeting with reporters yesterday, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tom Donohue, rocked by the exodus of companies from his organization over climate policy, “did not directly answer a question about whether he believes that humans are causing climate change” and repeated his call for the EPA to “open the debate on the science.”

“You would have to go back at least 15 million years to find carbon dioxide levels on Earth as high as they are today,” a UCLA scientist and colleagues report in the online edition of the journal Science.

National Security

The New York Times reports “Myanmar’s military government allowed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the country’s beleaguered democracy movement, to hold a rare meeting with foreign diplomats on Friday as part of what appears to be early but tentative signs of a détente between the junta and Western governments.”

Reuters reports that “Pakistan’s foreign minister urged parliament to look with an open mind at a U.S. aid bill which the powerful military has voiced concern about.”

AP reports that “U.S. forces have withdrawn from an isolated base in eastern Afghanistan that insurgents attacked last week in one of the deadliest battles of the war for U.S. troops, the NATO-led coalition said Friday. The pullout from the Kamdesh outpost near the Pakistani border is likely to embolden insurgent fighters in the region.”


Bloomberg notes that the derivatives lobby may have found a friend in the New Democrats.

The New York Times reports that “problems at the Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees mortgages with low down payments, are becoming so acute that some experts warn the agency might need a federal bailout.” However, the FHA’s chief disagrees.

A coalition of business groups is reportedly “worried that Senate Democratic leaders will not hold a confirmation hearing on President Barack Obama’s nominee for a key post at the Labor Department,” and instead bring David Michaels’ nomination to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) straight to the floor.


The East Valley Tribune says that “prideful” Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio “shouldn’t stand stuck in the mud” and continue refusing to adapt to ICE’s new agreement which limits his immigration enforcement powers, but “would shore up his own budget and would be far more likely to make a difference.”

Yesterday, the National Association of Evangelicals urged Congress to approve a resolution passed unanimously by the group’s board of directors recommending that immigration laws provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented a plan to “maximize economic contributions of immigrants, help immigrant children achieve, integrate immigrants into neighborhoods and civic life, and protect immigrants from exploitation.”

Health Care

The stocks of large health insurers sunk yesterday after the Congressional Budget Office released their analysis of the Senate Finance Committee’s health plan. “The fear is that the bill will actually get through, and that increases the risk to the insurers,” said Avik Roy, an health care analyst with a private equity research firm.

According to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund released yesterday, “the quality of health care Americans receive depends largely on where they live, with insurance coverage, access to preventive medicine and disease treatment varying widely from state to state.”

This week the Consumer Union, the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which publishes Consumer Reports unveiled the first television advertisement in their 72-year history: the historic 30-second spot features Consumers Union President and Chief Executive Officer James A. Guest arguing in favor of health insurance reform.