The WonkLine: June 21, 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.



The Obama administration is looking to reinstate the “Superfund” tax, which was first established 30 years ago “to clean up sites around the country contaminated with hazardous waste,” but which lapsed in 1995.

The New York Times reports that “many states are acknowledging this year that they have promised pensions they cannot afford and are cutting once-sacrosanct benefits, to appease taxpayers and attack budget deficits.”

China “allowed the renminbi to appreciate modestly on Monday in the first day of trading since the end of the near-two-year currency peg with the US dollar was announced.”

Health Care

“The Senate on Friday passed the annual “doc fix” — but this short-term stay on the reimbursement rates for physicians who treat Medicare patients does not resolve the underlying problem.”

“The number of doctors refusing new Medicare patients because of low government payment rates is setting a new high, just six months before millions of Baby Boomers begin enrolling in the government health care program.”

“Though scaled back to address budget concerns, legislation extending health insurance benefits for the unemployed remains in jeopardy.”

Climate Change

“About seven and a half miles off the coast of Panama City Beach, small tar balls floating on the surface as well as a jelly like substance” loom, as BP’s massive oil slick extends farther along the Florida panhandle.

“Torrential rains battering south and central China have left 175 people dead and forced the evacuation of 1.7 million, as washed out roads and railways hampered rescue work Monday.”

Two prominent climate scientists – NASA’s Dr. James Hanson and Dr. Robert Watson of the University of East Anglia – are “the winners of the 2010 Blue Planet Prize, an international environmental award which is considered to be Japan’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.”


Voters in the eastern Nebraska city of Fremont will decide today whether to ban hiring or renting property to undocumented immigrants.

The New York Times reminds readers that “while thousands have been killed in Mexico’s drug wars…F.B.I. statistics show that Arizona is relatively safe.”

An undocumented Harvard University student is no longer facing deportation to Mexico after being detained nearly two weeks ago by immigration authorities at a Texas airport, officials said.