The WonkLine: June 14, 2010

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 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.


National Security

The U.S. “discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan,” which is “enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy” and “could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.”

“By the end of the summer, only about 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq despite the lack of a government. Analysts and officials estimate that the political factions are likely months away from forming a government.”

“The fragile interim government of Kyrgyzstan announced the death toll in the nation’s worst ethnic clashes in two decades had climbed to 97, with more than 1,200 others wounded. But officials said the actual casualties are far higher because many people are too frightened to go to hospitals.”

Climate Change

In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11,” President Barack Obama said, “I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come,” as he will “use his first Oval Office speech Tuesday night to outline a plan to legally compel BP to create an escrow account to compensate businesses and individuals for their losses from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

The state of Florida moved Sunday to “close state waters along 23 miles of coastline in Escambia County” to “the harvesting of saltwater fish, crabs and shrimp,” ten days after oil first moved into the region.

Energy giant BP has “presented a new plan to contain more than 50,000 barrels a day of oil gushing from a ruptured Gulf of Mexico well by the end of June.”


“New federal rules, expected to be formally proposed in coming days, would tighten oversight” of the for-profit college industry, according to the Washington Post. Enrollment in for-profit colleges increased from 673,000 in 2000 to 1.8 million in 2008.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said yesterday that he “wants the White House to look at unspent money from the 2009 stimulus package instead of asking Congress for a new fiscal package.”

Lehman Brothers examiner Anton Valukas reportedly searched for terms such as “just between us,” “stupid,” and “big trouble” while building his study of the investment banks’ collapse.


Right wing activists at the Texas Republican state convention this past weekend “bucked Texas Gov. Rick Perry by pushing for a crackdown on illegal immigration similar to Arizona’s new law.”

The Hill reports that “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week told an Ecuador television reporter that President Barack Obama is courting lawmakers’ support for immigration reform and wants it to happen this year.”

U.S. and Cuban officials are scheduled to sit down together later this week to discuss immigration and other issues, according to a State Department spokesman.

Health Care

“Another lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the mandate that individuals buy health insurance has been filed, this time arguing the law violates people’s religious rights.”

“President Barack Obama, in a message that mixed politics with policy, used the high-profile perch of his weekly address to urge Congress to pass a patch on Medicare physician payments while underscoring a commitment for a longer-term solution.”

“An analysis of over 150,000 hospital discharges has revealed that there are significant insurance related differences in hospital mortality, length of stay, and costs among working-age Americans (age 18-64 years) hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), stroke, or pneumonia.”