The WonkLine: July 24, 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

This morning, the Avaaz Action Factory is “doing street theater in front of the State Department to protest a Canadian tar sands pipeline” that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has the power to block.

Electric utilities have spent over $200 million lobbying Congress since 2008, while Big Oil spent over $188 million — top spenders this year include Chevron at $12.8 million, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity at $11.7 million, and AEP at $4.6 million.


E&E; News: “Aside from Dorgan, Cantwell, Feinstein and Snowe, other Senate Democrats that would like to see much greater regulation of energy commodity and derivative markets in general include Sens. Levin (D-MI), Harkin (D-IA), Lieberman (I-CT), Collins (R-ME) and Bingaman (D-NM).”

Health Care

On Thursday, “President Barack Obama responded to Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) announcement that the Senate would not pass a health care bill before the August recess: “That’s OK. I just want people to keep on working. Just keep working,” Obama said.

Also on Thursday, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said that Reid’s “decision to not push for a full Senate vote on health care reform before the August recess makes it somewhat easier for the gang of six bipartisan negotiators on his committee to reach a deal.”

A proposal in Massachusetts “to end the practice of paying doctors for individual procedures could prove a model to hold down costs for U.S. health care reform.”


The federal minimum wage rises today from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour, which means that a full-time minimum wage earner will receive $28 more a week.


Newsweek’s Wealth of Nations reports that “one sixth of humanity is under-nourished as a result of the financial crisis, which has driven millions more into poverty this year.” An estimated 1.02 billion people will go hungry in 2009, a record high.

The Government Accountability Office released a report yesterday stating that the Obama administration’s housing plan is “based on uncertain assumptions about the mortgage market and overall economic conditions,” and thus “could fall short of its goal.”

National Security

Spencer Ackerman reports in the Washington Independent that “Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki opened the door for the first time Thursday to the prospect of a U.S. military presence in Iraq after the December 2011 deadline for troop withdrawal set by last year’s bilateral accord.” CQ’s Josh Rogin reports that “an internal Pentagon oversight board has reported that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is two years behind schedule, according to multiple congressional aides familiar with the findings.” Reuters reports that “Afghan President Hamid Karzai, setting out his election manifesto, vowed on Friday to make foreign troops sign a framework governing how they operate in a bid to limit civilians casualties.”


India’s national ID project has caught the eye of several conservative American lawmakers who want to establish a similar system in the US. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, together with 200 sheriff’s deputies and posse volunteers, has begun a 3-day immigration sweep in southeast Phoenix. The Public Policy Institute of California reports that many immigrants are leaving California and choosing to live in states with little history of immigration.