The WonkLine: February 17, 2010

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. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.


Health Care

Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) asking for the public option to be passed through reconciliation.

A new report released today shows county health rankings using factors such as poverty, air pollution and grocery store access in addition to cancer rates and other traditional indicators. Unsurprisingly, poorer rural counties are less healthy than wealthy ones.

WellPoint canceled it’s scheduled investors meeting amid criticism of their planned premium increases of up to 39 percent in California.

Climate Change

As the deadline to challenge the EPA’s global warming endangerment finding looms, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R-VA) and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R-TX) filed paperwork for their war on science, joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Using arrays of long, thin silicon wires embedded in a polymer substrate,” a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology has created “a new type of flexible solar cell.”

ConocoPhillips, BP and Caterpillar have “dropped out of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), the coalition of corporations and environmental groups that has been most prominent in pushing Congress to pass cap-and-trade legislation.”


Increased immigration enforcement is emptying once-thriving neighborhoods in metro Atlanta and affecting the local economy. One business owner said, “at Spanish neighborhoods, you see a lot of empty businesses.”

La Opinion slams Democrats’ inaction on immigration reform, declaring “No más palabras vacías” — or no more empty words — as Congress backpedals from immigration reform this year.

Latinos are increasingly frustrated with Obama’s commitment to immigration reform. Once ardent supporter, California state senator Gilbert Cedillo (D), said Obama risks “the danger of breaking people’s sense of hope in the Latino community.”


A new report from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that lobbyists spent $1.3 million for every hour that Congress was in session in 2009.

Tomorrow, President Obama plans to name Alan Simpson, a former Senate Republican leader, and Erskine Bowles, a Clinton White House official, to chair a commission charged with formulating a plan to address the country’s long-term deficits.

BusinessWeek reports that “software and computer companies such as Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. are gearing up to fight an Obama administration plan to curb offshore tax avoidance.”

National Security

BBC reports, “the Pakistani media’s response to the arrest of top Afghan Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been surprisingly muted…The arrest made international headlines throughout the day on Tuesday. But Pakistani newspapers and television channels barely covered the news, with some completely ignoring it.”

Reuters reports, “a Ukrainian court suspended the official result of this month’s presidential election after agreeing on Wednesday to consider a challenge by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to Viktor Yanukovich’s narrow win.”

Russia on Wednesday delayed the delivery of S-300 air defense missiles to Iran, citing unspecified technical problems. The announcement comes a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow to urge Russia to take tougher action against Iran’s nuclear program.