The WonkLine: October 13, 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

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to pass its health care reform bill at 2 p.m. today. The Senate Finance Committee reports that “few, if any, Republicans expected to support the bill,” and “Democrats have already begun their own internal negotiations aimed at reconciling the various measures passed by House and Senate committees.”

“After releasing a bruising analysis of the Senate Finance bill,” AHIP President and CEO “Karen Ignagni dodged a question about whether the industry supports the bill in its current form. “The challenges … can be addressed,” Ignagni said in a conference call with reporters.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) is accusing “the Democratic HELP staff of substantially altering the HELP bill as the plan was translated into its final legislative text, which was sent to the Senate floor last month.”


As the Miami Herald is reporting, leading members of the tourism industry are among those who have joined the “powerful campaign to allow all Americans to travel to Cuba.”

Advocates of immigration reform from ten cities across the U.S. are converging on Washington today. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) argued for the urgency of reform, saying, “The longer we wait, the more every single piece of legislation we debate will be obstructed by our failure to pass comprehensive reform.”

Notorious Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio continued his media tour yesterday on FOXNews, declaring his intention to continue enforcing immigration law even though he was stripped of his federal enforcement powers. “Nothing will change,” Arpaio said. “I’m not going to be deterred by any bully.”

Climate Change

An op-ed by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Lindsey Graham saying climate legislation will revitalize the economy has “jump-started the languishing proposal” and given Obama’s “climate-change hopes” a boost.

“As the West warms, a drier Colorado River system could see as much as a 1-in-2 chance of fully depleting all of its reservoir storage by mid-century,” but developers are beginning to change their profligate water-use practices.

“Much power plant waste once went into the sky, but because of toughened air pollution laws, it now often goes into lakes and rivers, or into landfills that have leaked into nearby groundwater,” the New York Times reports.


Two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers go to court today “in the first, and so far only, prominent criminal trial stemming from the mortgage meltdown.” CNN Money dubs the trial a “test case for Wall Street justice.”

USA Today reports that “public school teachers are expected to be the big winners when states around the U.S. reveal for the first time how many jobs were created or saved during the first months of President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan.”

Michael Hiltzik writes that the myth of the overburdened rich “[has] the power to distort almost everything we see when we turn our attention to state spending and taxation.”

National Security

The Washington Post reports that the White House has authorized at least 13,000 more troops for Afghanistan, “primarily support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police. Their deployment has received little mention by officials at the Pentagon and the White House, who have spoken more publicly about the combat troops who have been sent to Afghanistan.”

Reuters reports “Pakistani aircraft bombed militants in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border as government forces prepare for a ground offensive against the militant hub.”

Ynet reports Israeli opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni “accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being responsible for the uproar created by the United Nations report into the Israeli operation in Gaza. She hinted that Israel was the one who revealed that the Palestinians had deferred a Human Rights Council vote on the report, because the prime minister ‘had to boast of his performance.'”