The WonkLine: May 3, 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

President Obama visited Louisiana on Sunday afternoon “for a firsthand look at the response effort.” The oil spill, which Obama called a “potentially unprecedented environmental disaster,” continues to gush oil despite the efforts of BP and “an array of government agencies and private companies.”

Severe storms and flash floods left more than a dozen people dead in Tennessee and Kentucky over the weekend” after the Cumberland River and many of its tributaries overflowed.

Federal officials shut down fishing for at least 10 days from the Mississippi River to the Florida Panhandle on Sunday because of the uncontrolled” oil leak. Uncertainty over how long the ban will last may threaten the multi-billion dollar industry, along with the many restaurants and vendors it serves.


Congress seems to be “quietly drawing the line” at 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. “You can’t go on forever,” said Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT). “I think 99 weeks is sufficient.”

Documents released by Senate investigators shows how Wall Street’s repacking of securities resulted in toxic magnification. “In one case, a $38 million subprime-mortgage bond created in June 2006 ended up in more than 30 debt pools and ultimately caused roughly $280 million in losses to investors.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that “a bill that would drastically curb the tenure rights of Colorado teachers is expected to reach the state House floor this week, re-energizing the national debate over the sacrosanct protection.”


The New York Times reports that tens of thousands of demonstrators joined marches and rallies Saturday in cities across the country, calling on Congress to pass an immigration overhaul.

Two Obama administration officials told Newsweek that DHS has already signaled to Arizona police that it will most likely detain and deport only violent criminals under the state’s new immigration law.

At a fundraiser for the Arizona Democratic Party on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden denounced the state’s tough immigration law as protesters gathered by the thousands just a few miles away to rail against the law.

Health Care

“The first major decision for the states under the new health care law—on establishing high risk insurance pools—has come and gone with the decisions so far made mostly along party lines.”

“Anti-abortion advocates are enraged over provisions of the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill they say allow taxpayer money to subsidize insurance policies that cover elective abortions.”

“Medical interests alone shelled out more than $876 million in lobbying expenses during the 15 months beginning in January 2009 and ending in March, when Congress passed the sweeping overhaul.”

National Security

The month-long Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference opens today in New York. It “is shaping up as a showdown between Iran and the United States, with each side jockeying for allies in the escalating dispute over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.”

“Greece, effectively bankrupt and with a European gun to its head, committed itself to years of austerity on Sunday when it signed a financial bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.”

“The Obama administration is likely to reveal a closely guarded secret — the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile — during a critical meeting starting Monday at which Washington will try to strengthen the global treaty that curbs the spread of nuclear weapons, several officials said.”