The WonkLine: August 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.

Election Update: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) may become the latest Senate incumbent ousted in a primary, as she trails Tea Party favorite Joe Miller by 2,555 votes with 84 percent of precincts reporting. In Florida, Rick Scott upset Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and will run against state CFO Alex Sink. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) won the Democratic Senate primary, and will join a three way race with Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and Marco Rubio (R). Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) held off former Rep. J.D. Hayworth in Arizona’s Republican primary.

Health Care

“First term Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., says the health care debate has changed dramatically since the combative town hall meetings of last August.”


“A plan by Medicare to try to make it simpler for consumers to pick drug coverage could force 3 million seniors to switch plans next year whether they like it or not, says an independent analysis.”

“More than a quarter of Americans who take prescription drugs have skipped doses, split pills or cut other corners to save money in the last year, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.”


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stated that without the labor undocumented immigrants, the price of food in the United States would cost “three, four, or five times more than it does now.” The bipartisan Immigrants’ List PAC identified Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV) as one of the “10 biggest obstacles to immigration reform.” The Center for Investigative Reporting notes that the federal government has “broken its previous record for the number of immigration cases waiting to be resolved by a federal court judge.”

Climate Change

Steve Henke, a former Bureau of Land Management official who oversaw the oil and gas industry, “took gifts from an oil company and misused travel funds” before leaving his post in May to become the president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.


“Pakistani and U.N. officials say that deadly waterborne and a number of other infectious diseases are on the rise among victims” of the “worst natural calamity of its history.”

Brian Morel, the BP engineer who called the Deepwater Horizon a “nightmare well,” refused to testify at an investigative hearing, pleading the Fifth.


According to the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus package passed last February “raised economic growth by as much as 4.5 percent in the last quarter and may have increased the number of people with jobs by more than 3 million.”

Nine states and the District of Columbia won the second round of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top education reform program, and will share $3.4 billion in funding.

“U.S. home sales plummeted in July to a level not seen in more than a decade” last month, as the home-buyer tax credit expired.

National Security

“Former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday on a mission to win the release of an American held prisoner in North Korea.” “Fresh fighting has erupted in the Somali capital between Islamist militants and government troops following Tuesday’s militant attack on a Mogadishu hotel that killed 31 people. The French news agency, AFP, reports at least six civilians were killed in the latest violence.” “Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on the Lebanese government to seek Iran’s assistance in providing arms for the Lebanese army. Nasrallah’s statement comes two weeks after the United States announced a freeze on support to the Lebanese army, a decision made in the wake of deadly border clashes between Lebanese and Israeli troops Aug. 3.”