The WonkLine: June 30, 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

“Gen. David Petraeus left open the possibility of recommending that President Barack Obama delay his plans to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next summer if the new commander can’t turn around the stalemated war.” “There will be an assessment at the end of this year after which undoubtedly we’ll make certain tweaks, refinements, perhaps some significant changes,” Petraeus said.

“Israel is ready to expand the powers of an investigation panel into its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said. His statement followed Israeli reports that the head of the panel, Yaakov Tirkel, had threatened to resign.”

“Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened a high-level meeting this evening to discuss the situation in Kashmir, which has seen unrest for the last four days.”


President Obama “summoned Latino leaders and immigrant advocates on short notice for a 45–minute White House meeting on Monday, and he met Tuesday with members of the House Congressional Hispanic Caucus.” He “will make a major speech on immigration on Thursday at American University in Washington.”

“[C]ivil rights campaigners, community workers and advocacy groups from across the 2,000-mile southwestern border gathered for two days” last weekend to strategize on their “message that the government’s ever-increasing emphasis on border enforcement is futile.”

Obama’s “$600 million border security plan seems to have it all,” “[b]ut it doesn’t include $40 million to help the already overwhelmed federal courts along the U.S.-Mexico border that will likely be inundated with additional drug and other criminal cases.”

Health Care

“President Obama is calling a big part of the health care reform bill he signed into law last March a “Patients’ Bill of Rights”, suggesting that many of the consumer protections contained in the new law were the same ones the health insurance industry succeeded in killing time and again over many years through a fear-mongering campaign it secretly financed.”

“Health insurer Humana and life insurer MassMutual launched game apps for the iPhone in late June directed at building brand recognition. Both insurers tapped external developers to create applications that combine entertainment and education about insurance products.”

“Michele Obama and her ‘Let’s Move’ campaign has helped focus attention on childhood obesity and school cafeterias.  But who is paying attention to hospital cafeterias?”


The financial reform conference committee was briefly reopened yesterday and conferees voted to remove a fee on the biggest financial firms after several Republican senators voiced opposition to it.

According to a new Pew Research Center survey, “the recession has directly hit more than half of the nation’s working adults, pushing them into unemployment, pay cuts, reduced hours at work or part-time jobs.”

“Reversing its oft-repeated position that it was acting only on behalf of its clients in its exotic dealings with the American International Group, Goldman Sachs now says that it also used its own money to make secret wagers against the U.S. housing market,” reports McClatchy.

Climate Change

The mid-Atlantic heatwave has caused the number of car breakdowns to soar, with ” a 25 percent increase” in cars towed and ” the number of statewide service calls for batteries nearly doubled.”

Record June heat killed five seniors in Maryland, killed four people in Philadelphia, killed four people in Dallas, and killed three people in Tennessee.

Nearby wildfires have prompted the cancellation of the Fourth of July fireworks in Flagstaff, AZ, this year