The WonkLine: August 25, 2009

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 10 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, and subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, you can now follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.


President Obama nominated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for a second term today, “because he wanted to keep together the team that had weathered the crisis.”

A federal judge yesterday “ruled against an effort by the U.S. Federal Reserve to block disclosure of companies” that participated in the Fed’s emergency funding programs, as the central bank “failed to show that disclosure would cause borrowers…to suffer ‘imminent competitive harm.’”

Yves Smith notes that banks are sitting on lots of bad mortgages and they aren’t getting any better.


The FBI won’t say whether it is or isn’t investigating Joe Arpaio — an Arizona sheriff whose hard-line immigration tactics are currently under investigation by the DOJ. The U.S. pays $6 million to fly undocumented Mexican immigrants to Mexico City in an attempt to keep them away from border towns where smugglers will likely convince them to cross over into the US again. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that genital mutilation — even in its least drastic form — “causes physical and psychological harm” and is grounds for an asylum bid.

Climate Change

A joint report from the National Wildlife Federation, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the NAACP warns that the “nation is headed for strong heat waves in coming decades that will hit cities and farmers and threaten wildlife with extinction.”


As China races ahead in solar technology, “China’s top legislature, for the first time in its history, is specifically addressing climate change with the review of a draft resolution, after hearing a report on the growing environmental problem Monday.”

The League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, MoveOn and Americans United for Change “are launching more than $1 million in attack ads Tuesday targeting five House Republicans who voted against energy legislation in June.”

Health care

An alliance of liberal advocacy groups is pressuring Democrats to support the public option. The group hopes that “by getting at least 50 senators on the record as supporting a public option, they can persuade other fence-sitters to jump to their side and push through a bill with a public option, even if only with Democratic support.”

“Paul Ginsburg, the president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, said he was more concerned about the opposite of rationing: that lawmakers do not seem to be focused enough on controlling costs, by making sure people do not receive unnecessary care or unproven treatments.”

How hospitals will gain $16 billion from health care reform.

National Security

Spencer Ackerman reports that the newly declassified CIA documents “provide little evidence for [former Vice-President Dick] Cheney’s claims that the ‘enhanced interrogation’ program run by the CIA provided valuable information.” CNN reports that Afghan election officials announced that “partial election results put incumbent President Hamid Karzai ahead of his main rival by a slim margin. Based on 10 percent of the votes counted, Karzai received 212,927 votes compared with rival Abdullah Abdullah who received 202,889 votes.” Reuters reports that “Mohammad Jawad, one of the youngest detainees to be held at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said on Tuesday after his return home to Afghanistan he had been abused and humiliated during six years in custody.”