The WonkLine: June 23, 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.



Despite his opposition, President Obama will not veto the financial regulatory reform bill over a provision exempting auto dealers from oversight by a new consumer protection agency, the White House said yesterday.

European nations yesterday “moved to back a new tax on banks, with the U.K. including the levy in its new emergency budget and Germany and France pledging similar action in coming months.”

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said yesterday that banks have “repaid about 75 percent of the bailout money they received, and the government’s investments in those banks had brought taxpayers $21 billion.”

National Security

“President Hamid Karzai, joined by his powerful half brother and other influential political figures, mounted a full court press on behalf of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal on Wednesday, warning that Afghanistan could not afford a change in western military leadership now.”

“Russia further cut natural gas supplies to Belarus on Wednesday to 60 percent of normal volume a day after the president of Belarus ordered a halt to the transit of Russian gas to Europe,” raising concerns over “a brewing ‘gas war’ with Russia.”

“Iran’s nuclear chief said Wednesday his country has produced 17 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent, defying U.N. demands to halt the controversial program.”


Yesterday, the Mexican government filed an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court asking that SB-1070 be declared unconstitutional because it could lead to unlawful discrimination against Mexican citizens.

The Obama administration formally asked Congress on Tuesday for $600 million in emergency funds to beef up border security with more drones, more ICE agents, and more boots on the ground.

The Hill reports that “Arizona Democrats facing tough reelection races are distancing themselves from the Obama administration as it prepares to file a lawsuit against the state over its controversial immigration law.”

Climate Change

Floods from freak rains destroy property and take hundreds of lives in the Midwest, Ghana, China, France, and Brazil, as record global warmth increases the amount of moisture in the atmosphere.

“We’ve always said from the get-go that we need to know what that flow rate is,” BP spokesman John Curry told Politico, even though BP turned away scientists who wanted to measure the flow and BP’s Doug Suttles said last month that their response is “really not tied to the rate.”

“As much as 1 million times the normal level of methane gas has been found in some regions near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, enough to potentially deplete oxygen and create a dead zone,” U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.

Health Care

“The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries — Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found.”

“House Republican Leader John Boehner is marking the 90-day anniversary of health care reform with a 43-page report ‘designed to chronicle ObamaCare’s three-month journey from hype to harsh reality.'”

“A federal mediator has called negotiators from the Minnesota Nurses Association and 14 Twin Cities hospitals back to the bargaining table this week after an overwhelming vote by the nurses Monday to give union leaders permission to declare an ongoing strike of 12,000 nurses.”