The WonkLine: May 18, 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

As tar balls and oil globs, and emulsified slicks from the ever-growing BP oil disaster wash ashore, the “Louisiana Army National Guard is speeding up efforts to close breaches along parts of the Louisiana coast.”

Two activists have received $100,000 bail each for misdemeanor charges of blockading Massey Energy headquarters, as protesters march outside today’s shareholder meeting, where there will be votes to remove the board.

“I think before the blowout, it is clear that there was an assumption that a [blowout preventer] would never fail,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified yesterday, even though blowout preventers regularly fail.


President Obama’s undocumented aunt, Zeituni Polly Onyango, was granted asylum to stay in the United States yesterday. “Judge Leonard I. Shapiro granted her asylum Friday in Boston, three months after Onyango’s lawyers said she feared violence and health risks if she were forced to return to her native Kenya.”

Four immigrants were arrested on trespassing charges for holding a sit-in yesterday at the Tucson offices of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), calling on him to sponsor legislation to open a path to legalization for young undocumented immigrants.

On the night he kill[ed] immigration reform,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ate “Mexican [food] for dinner with his wife.”


According to a USA Today analysis, “new credit card and overdraft restrictions will save U.S. consumers from being charged at least $5 billion in fees this year alone at the largest U.S. retail banks and credit card companies.”

According to the latest data from the Treasury Department, “the government’s mortgage-modification program has left some struggling homeowners worse off than they were before,” as “nearly one in four homeowners who were offered lower payments…have been weeded out of the program.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper “has dispatched his top ministers around the world to wage a campaign against a proposed international bank tax that he said would unfairly penalize Canadian banks.”

Health Care

“With health reform in the books, some of the most powerful industry groups that battled against each other during the epic debate have now teamed up and raised $450,000 to explore the idea of creating a national nonprofit that would help implement key parts of the law.”

“Healthy retirees actually face higher total health care costs over their remaining lifetime than the unhealthy, according to new research conducted by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College and underwritten by Prudential Financial.”

“Intensive care patients who did not have health insurance were 21 percent more likely to die than insured patients, U.S. researchers reported on Monday. Their study of intensive care units or ICUs in Pennsylvania adds to arguments that a lack of health insurance can be deadly.”

National Security

“A suicide bomb attack on a Nato convoy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, has killed at least 18 people, including six foreign troops.”

“The United States, Europe and Russia responded with extreme skepticism to Iran’s announcement on Monday that it had reached an agreement to ship roughly half of its nuclear fuel to Turkey, saying they would continue to press for new sanctions against Tehran.”

“Ma’an News reports Israeli military officials are reportedly preparing to appoint a military governor for the Gaza Strip, in what would be a significant move toward re-occupying the area, the Hebrew language daily Ma’ariv wrote Tuesday.”