The WonkLine: March 12, 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.


Climate Change

The first group of what will become a 15,000-photo set from the Documerica project from the 1970s, when the Environmental Protection Agency “sent out 100 photographers to document the nation’s environment writ large,” are now available on Flickr Commons.

“My my guess is there will be a clamoring for an energy bill when gas prices go up, as they normally do, as we get closer to more driving as we get closer to the summer,” Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a briefing yesterday.

Scientists report that aquatic dead zones are exacerbating the impacts of global warming and contributing to ozone depletion, a increase in corn-based ethanol would change land use ” enough to cancel out the benefits,” and peak oil may come in 2014.


President Obama reportedly plans to name San Fransisco Federal Reserve President Janet Yellen to be vice chairman of the Federal Reserve in Washington. Paul Krugman says she would be a “good counterweight to the inflation hawks.”

Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) “are considering giving the Federal Reserve power to regulate clearinghouses for derivatives” as part of the Senate’s regulatory reform efforts.

Responding to the false right-wing claim that the Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate secret ballots in union elections, the South Carolina legislature has proposed amending its state constitution to state that “the fundamental right of an individual to vote by secret ballot [for union representation] is guaranteed.”

National Security

In Pakistan, “Twin suicide attacks have targeted the Pakistani military, killing 45 people in the second attack to hit security forces in the country’s cultural capital Lahore this week.”

Amidst accusations of fraud, Iraq’s election results remain tight as vote tallies trickle in. “Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had a narrow lead over rival Shi’ites, partial results in Iraq’s tight election race showed on Friday, but a secularist challenger remained far ahead in minority Sunni areas.”

A recently arrested American al-Qaeda terror suspect in Yemen worked “for a group of nuclear power plants in New Jersey.”

Health Care

President Obama is delaying his trip to Indonesia, Guam and Australia next week, an administration official said Friday, so the White House can focus on passing health care legislation in the House.

“Congressional Democrats embarked on the final push for an historic health care bill on Thursday with no guarantee that they have the votes to pass it.”

“Most big employers plan to shift a larger share of health-care costs to their workers next year, according to a survey released Thursday. Many say they may charge more to cover spouses, tighten eligibility standards for their health plans and dispense financial rewards or penalties based on the results of certain lab tests.”