The WonkLine: July 14, 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.

National Security

Yesterday, Pakistan began moving 2 million refugees, who were displaced by Taliban elements, back to their homes in the Swat Valley. The United States, among other nations, will closely watch the process for signs of Pakistan’s ability to reverse a growing Islamist militancy.

The multicolored terror alert system created after 9/11 in under review and could be revised or eliminated entirely. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to appoint a panel Tuesday to reevaluate the system.


Navy pilot’s are changing their strategy to become more collaborative in Afghanistan in order to avoid civilian casualties. The adjustment reflects orders last month by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the new United States commander in Afghanistan, that sharply limit the use of airstrikes.


According to a Goldman Sachs forecast, “severe budget crunches afflicting U.S. states will put the brakes on the national economy by as much as seven-tenths of a percent of Gross Domestic Product in the next 12 months.”

Five companies involved in the derivatives trade are forming the Wholesale Market Brokers’ Association Americas Inc., which will “press its case as lawmakers debate legislation to regulate the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market.”

According to a new report from President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, “jobs requiring only an associate degree or skills certificate are projected to grow slightly faster than those requiring at least a bachelor’s degree in the coming decade.”

Health Care

In a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), President Obama pressed Democrats to move quickly on health care reform.


A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that Americans believe that “it’s important to overhaul health care this year… but they are less enthusiastic about some of the proposals to pay for it.”

Who is Dr. Regina Benjamin? Jonathan Cohn and Tim Foley have some answers.


In a move to “thaw relations,” the U.S. and Cuba will convene this afternoon to discuss migration issues for the first time since talks were suspended in 2003. Deportation flights have risen since President Obama took office with the Office of Detention and Removal Operations averaging 9 to 10 charter flights a weekday. A federal judge certified a class action lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who claim to have been overcharged and subject to illegal fees when they were applying for Temporary Protected Status.


In a Washington Post op-ed, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) calls President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan “an enormous threat to our economy,” but repeats false arguments and “at no point does Palin mention CO2 emissions, rising global temperatures or anything that’s at the core of the legislation.”


Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) “has placed a hold on President Obama’s pick to be the No. 2 official at U.S. EPA” — Robert Perciasepe — over what he claims is “an incomplete analysis of the House-passed global warming and energy bill” by the EPA.

Eric Chivian, Harvard Medical School’s Director for the Center for Health and the Global Environment: The G-8 goal of a 2-degree limit to warming is “almost twice the amount we have already caused, which is now melting ice all over the world; causing more intense heat waves, droughts, flooding and storms; and threatening the survival of coral reefs and 40 million acres of conifer forests in western states and Canada.”