The WonkLine: May 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

Alarmed by the BP oil spill, “Democrats are actively discussing at least a one-cent-per-barrel increase in fees paid by the oil industry to finance a government trust fund covering damage claims from such spills.”

The Obama administration has proposed “breaking up the agency responsible for both policing the oil industry and acting as its partner in drilling activities.” The Minerals Management Service would be split into two offices, one “responsible for public safety and environmental enforcement and the other in charge of leasing and revenue collection.”

“In hearings before two Senate committees, lawmakers accused executives from BP America Inc, Transocean, and Halliburton of trying to shift the blame [for the Gulf oil spill] to each other.”


The Senate voted unanimously yesterday to audit the Federal Reserve’s actions taken during the economic meltdown of 2008. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who said “we are beginning to lift the veil of secrecy on what is perhaps the most important agency in the United States.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) will seek “terrible cuts” in order to close a more than $18 billion budget deficit facing the state over the next year. However, he has ruled out all tax increases, with a spokesman saying that “we don’t believe that raising taxes right now is the right thing to do.”

According to the Labor Department, “more U.S. workers quit their jobs than were laid off in March, the second month in a row this occurred and a sign of employees’ growing confidence.”


Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said Republicans have made it “unlikely” that the Senate would move on immigration reform this year.

The new consul general of Mexico in Phoenix said his office is preparing for an exodus from Arizona because of the state’s stringent new immigration law.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) blasted Arizona’s new immigration law, saying supporters of such crackdowns were “trying to invent a villain for political purposes.’’ “Let me be clear: As long as I have anything to say about it, there’s not going to be an Arizona law in Massachusetts,’’ he said. “I can’t see such a thing passing our Legislature. But if it did, I would veto it.’’

Health Care

“Federal actuaries estimate that the healthcare reform law could account for more than $115 billion in new discretionary costs—nearly $65 billion more than first thought and a figure that could change yet again because of a number of new programs where funding is expected though not specified.”

“The White House announced a shift in national drug policy that would treat illegal drug use more as a public health issue and plunge more resources into prevention and treatment.”

“Total healthcare costs for a typical family of four increased $1,303 or 7.8% over the past year, according to the Milliman Medical Index, the highest total dollar increase in the history of the actuarial firm’s annual study.”

National Security

“Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged the United States on Wednesday to actively work to achieve peace in the Mideast with the support of other nations, saying there is a “human tragedy” in Gaza.”

“Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Wednesday said that Israel will demolish Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem in the coming days despite the renewal of indirect peace talks.”

“Egypt’s foreign minister has dismissed U.S. criticism of Cairo’s decision to extend its three-decade-old emergency law as ‘overly politicized.’ Ahmed Aboul Gheit says the U.S. stance reflects an ignorance of the ‘real situation’ in Egypt.”