The WonkLine: July 29, 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.

Climate Change

Second-quarter profits at both Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil have nearly doubled from last year to $4.5 billion and $7.6 billion respectively, while ConocoPhillips profits quadrupled to $4.1 billion.

Republicans are slamming the inclusion of natural gas fracking disclosure rules in Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) “spill bill.”


30,000 Washington, DC, residents are still without power after a storm this weekend, two people were killed by a freak tornado in northeastern Montana, and at least “52 people are reported to have died and an additional 20 are missing following rain-triggered floods in central China’s Henan Province.”


The New York Times reports that “the Pima County [Arizona] morgue is running out of space as the number of Latin American immigrants found dead in the deserts around Tucson has soared this year.”

Alan Bersin and John Morton of the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies write that they have undertaken “the most serious approach to enforcement we have witnessed in our careers.”

Heading into fall elections, Democrats are vying for the upper hand by advancing targeted immigration and border security bills that “GOP lawmakers will be hard pressed to oppose.”


Today, President Obama “will deliver a major education reform speech at the National Urban League’s 100th Anniversary Convention,” discussing “how his signature Race to the Top program and other initiatives are driving education reform across the country.”


Three of President Obama’s nominations to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors were approved by the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, “despite Republican resistance to two of his picks.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) “is asking the Senate Finance Committee to investigate plans by oil giant BP to cut its U.S. tax bill by $10 billion, or half the amount the British-based company has pledged to provide victims of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill.”

National Security

In a blow to his efforts to foster a “special relationship” with New Delhi, British Prime Minister Cameron will leave India without meeting Sonia Gandhi, “president of the Congress party widely regarded as the most powerful person in the country.” The Obama administration “is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation” — a move many Internet providers have thus far resisted. Today, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new security law restoring “Soviet-era powers to the Federal Security Service, the KGB’s main successor agency.”

Health Care

“Medicare Advantage plans are reducing avoidable hospital readmissions at a faster clip than traditional Medicare, the insurance industry claims, emphasizing the value of Advantage plans at a time when major cuts are slated for the plans under the new reform law.”


“A senior House Republican has stepped up his call for HHS to turn over cost estimates it received from federal actuaries about the healthcare reform legislation before it became law.”

“Health insurance plans across the country on Wednesday began to backtrack on their decision to pull out of the child-only coverage market after the Obama administration addressed their concerns about the potential damage to their bottom lines.”