The WonkLine: June 25, 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.



Early this morning, financial regulatory reform legislation was approved by a congressional conference committee. The party line vote was 20-11 by the House’s conferees and 7-5 by the Senate’s.

“European governments’ budget-slashing efforts are expected to cut deep into the Continent’s defense spending, widening the gulf between U.S. and European military capabilities,” with the UK’s defense minister advocating cutting “ruthlessly and without sentiment.”

“Plans by global regulators to compel banks to set aside billions of dollars in extra capital to cope with future crises are to be pared back after intense lobbying by the industry,” the Financial Times reports.

National Security

The acting director of national intelligence has resigned, “raising concerns that vacancies in the uppermost ranks of the nation’s top spy office could create a security vulnerability” if President Obama’s nominee for the top intelligence post, James Clapper, isn’t confirmed soon.

After two weeks of ethnic clashes forced hundreds of thousands to flee the bloodshed, Kyrgyz soldiers voted today “in the first stage of a referendum to create the first parliamentary democracy in Central Asia.”

Yesterday, Congress overwhelmingly passed “tough new unilateral sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran’s energy and banking sectors” in hopes to pressure Tehran into curbing its nuclear program.


DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano affirmed that President Obama is still committed to immigration reform and blamed a “bitterly divided Congress” for failing to create an immigration bill.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s (D-IL) admitted that “there are an insufficient number of Democratic votes” to pass an immigration reform bill this year.

The Massachusetts House and the Senate on Thursday approved a less stringent version of its contentious immigration plan by only codifying existing state policies, but cutting health care coverage for many legal immigrants.

Health Care

“The House passed on a 415-to-1 vote legislation that replaces a 21.2% Medicare physician pay cut with a 2.2% raise through November.”

“A June 2010 independent survey of 408 retirees covered by Medicare revealed that 90 days after the passage of health care reform legislation 64% are “very” or “somewhat” confident Medicare will be available the rest of their lives.”

“Utahns who have been denied health coverage because they’re too sick will soon have another option — a new special insurance program, or “high risk pool,” run by the state.”

Climate Change

After a “thrilling” and “inspirational” caucus, Senate Democrats plan to bring an “impenetrable” package to prevent “our planet’s destruction” by making “polluters pay.”

Freak storms knocked out power to 280,000 in the Philadelphia region, tore through Bridgeport, CT, devastated Edgerton, OH, and destroyed crops in Washington, while a heat wave shattered records in West Virginia, floods killed 365 in China, and 10 million people face starvation from drought in Niger and Chad.

Before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP’s safety record was “comparable to those of other deepwater drilling companies.”