The WonkLine: August 3, 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

Scientists say that “climate change is a likely contributor” to a 24-percent decline in large trees in Yosemite National Park since the 1930s. Scientists also found evidence of “a shift to fire-intolerant trees in some forests that had not experienced fires for nearly a century.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tells climate skeptic Stephen Moore he would “not only not vote for” the Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation, “I am opposed to it entirely, because it does damage to those of us who believe that we need to act in a rational fashion about climate change.”


“India will make energy efficiency ratings a must for electric appliances, including airconditioners and refrigerators, from January, stepping up domestic efforts to fight climate change.”

Health Care

As the House and Senate return to their constituents, both Republicans and Democrats prepare to face off over health care on their home turf.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) complained Sunday “that conservative Blue Dog Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee made the health care bill more expensive by forcing the government-sponsored public plans to negotiate payments.”

Seven organizations representing 450,000 doctors and medical students are urging Congress to pass health-care reform, including the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, whose president appeared with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) at a news conference yesterday to advocate reform.


A case involving South St.Paul high students who fled gang violence in El Salvador has made it to the Supreme Court and is expected to set a national precedent on whether resisting forced recruitment into violent gangs in other countries is grounds for asylum.


The Boston Herald reports that advocates in Lowell Massachusetts “are staging a World Cup-style tournament” on the hope of “bringing together the area’s diverse ethnic groups will help build better relationships among immigrant groups as they grapple with proposed reforms and cuts to health care.”

A reinterpretation of an immigration law, which had previously ordered the deportation of a California man, has led to his case being reopen.


According to new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the stimulus package has helped “state and local governments more than offset a sharp drop in tax collections…pushing state and local government expenditures up 4.8% in the second quarter.”

The Financial Times reports that “Wall Street banks are reaping outsized profits by trading with the Federal Reserve, raising questions about whether the central bank is driving hard enough bargains” in its private sector dealings.

According to the AP’s Economic Stress Index, “foreclosure rates in three states hit hardest by the housing bust — California, Arizona and Florida — stabilized in June, offering hope that the worst of the real estate crisis is over.”

National Security

Voice of America reports that “yellow confetti rained from buildings, as tens of thousands of people lined the streets of the Philippine capital to bid farewell to former President Corazon Aquino. The scene was reminiscent of the Philippine democracy movement that she led in the 1980’s.” NATO will stay in Afghanistan “for as long as it takes,” the military alliance’s new leader said in Brussels, Belgium, Monday. “We will support the Afghan people for as long as it takes — let me repeat that, for as long as it takes,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister who became secretary general on August 1. He said success in the country was NATO’s top priority, “to help prevent Afghanistan from becoming again the Grand Central Station of international terrorism.” Laura Rozen reports that “the U.S. government has called on Israeli authorities to halt the eviction of Palestinians and the demolition of their homes, following news reports Sunday that Israeli security forces had carried out the eviction of 56 Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.