The WonkLine: July 19, 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.

National Security

The Washington Times reports that “U.S. and Western intelligence agencies assess that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is terminally ill, and the Obama administration is closely watching the expected transition of power in a nation that for decades has been an anchor of stability in the volatile Middle East and a key U.S. ally.”

“Speaking at a news conference Monday in Pakistan [Secretary of State] Clinton said the U.S. wants to lay what she called a ‘foundation of assistance’ for Pakistan, enabling its people to enjoy the “peace and prosperity” they desire.” “About 50 people were killed Sunday in three Iraq suicide bombings that targeted members of anti-Al Qaeda militias formed during the so-called Sunni Awakening, some of whom had lined up to collect paychecks outside a military base.”


A new study conducted for the Labor Department found that workers who went through federally financed worker training “wound up earning little more than those who did not.” “It appears possible that ultimate gains from participation are small or nonexistent,” the study said.


Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) “is looking to gather senators behind a possible nomination of Elizabeth Warren as first head” of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Republicans are gearing up to oppose her.

According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “poverty is perhaps the most important factor in whether inner-city heterosexuals are infected with the AIDS virus.”


The American Bar Association joins the legal battle over Arizona’s harsh immigration law, filing two briefs with a federal court in Phoenix last week that argue the “Arizona law is a ‘clear attempt to usurp exclusive federal authority’ in violation of the Constitution. “ Influential evangelical Christian leaders continue to align “with the president to support an overhaul that would include some path to legalization for illegal immigrants already here.” Armed with assault rifles, body armor, and gas masks, Jason “J.T.” Ready — a reputed neo-Nazi — and his friends are taking immigration issues into their own hands, “declaring war on ‘narco-terrorists’ and keeping an eye out for illegal immigrants.” The county sheriff, however, worries that “an untrained group acting without the authority of the law could cause ‘extreme problems,’ and put themselves and others in danger.”

Health Care

“The relentlessly rising cost of health insurance is prompting some small Massachusetts companies to drop coverage for their workers and encourage them to sign up for state-subsidized care instead, a trend that, some analysts say, could eventually weigh heavily on the state’s already-stressed budget.”


“When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s ‘power to lay and collect taxes.’”

“Abortion foes have scored a victory and traditional allies of the Obama administration are grumbling about a decision to ban most abortion coverage in insurance pools for those unable to purchase health care on their own.”

Climate Change

With a tighter cap blocking the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout, oil has begun seeping from cracks in the seabed, raising concerns about the “weak points” detected within the damaged wellbore.

Heat waves have hit “fish breeders in central Russia,” “street performers at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre,” beachgoers in Boston, and triathletes in New York City.

A “number of major socially responsible funds and indexes included BP PLC on April 20.”