The WonkLine: August 28, 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.

Climate Change

Four years after Hurricane Katrina made landfall and 100 days before climate negotiations begin in Copenhagen, President Obama is “earning high praise” for rebuilding New Orleans and being challenged to stop the next one.

“Most Americans approve of the way President Obama is handling energy issues and support efforts by him and Democrats in Congress to overhaul energy policy — including the controversial cap-and-trade approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions,” according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.


“Two of the most powerful business associations in the country” — the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business — “launched a multimillion-dollar campaign against climate and energy legislation on Thursday, targeting key senators in Rust Belt and Southern states.”

National Security

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that “Palestinians must be able to show a united front to help revive Middle East peace talks.” “It will be crucially important that the Palestinian peoples are united among themselves and should be able to carry on these negotiations,” he said. The New York Times reports that “the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has written a searing critique of government efforts at “strategic communication” with the Muslim world, saying that no amount of public relations will establish credibility if American behavior overseas is perceived as arrogant, uncaring or insulting.” According to Reuters, “Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission has received more than 2,000 complaints of fraud or abuse in last week’s disputed presidential election, with 270 now listed as serious enough to affect the result.”


SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said that it’s “’critical’ for regulators to gain more access to information on derivative transactions in order to police market abuses.” Regulators need “information that allows us to construct an audit trail, so that we can find insider trading, manipulation and other concerns,” Schapiro said


Felix Salmon writes that we shouldn’t worry about the FDIC: “[T]he FDIC insurance fund might go for a little while with a negative balance. But that’s nothing to lose any sleep over.”

Harvard Law professor Lucian Bebchuk lays out how guaranteed bonuses encourage perverse risk-taking: “Introducing a guarantee into a bonus plan eliminates some downside risk but leaves the bonus compensation sensitive to performance on the upside.”


A coalition of 521 organizations have signed an open letter to President Obama criticizing his inaction on immigration reform and are planning vigils, marches, and other events across the country to protest the administration’s local immigration enforcement program. Last night, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said that she was optimistic that comprehensive immigration reform will pass, adding that “it’s a priority for both me and the president.” Inmates imprisoned in Los Angeles County jails will have their immigration status checked beginning today, though federal officials have already said they don’t have the resources to deport every undocumented immigrant that is identified.

Health Care

Protecting Coverage and Strengthening Medicare,” a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services “contends that the proposals being discussed in Washington will benefit seniors by preventing Medicare from going bankrupt and by addressing issues that older people already face, like the high out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.”


Kaiser Health News is reporting that Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-IA) is no longer sure that a “bipartisan health deal” is possible in September.

The commerce secretary explains why “Fixing Health Care Is Good for Business.”