The WonkLine: July 6, 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

President Obama arrived in Moscow today for the start of a three-day summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that aides were hopeful would yield a framework for an agreement to replace an expiring nuclear arms control treaty. AP reports that Iran’s supreme leader warned Western governments on Monday of a “negative impact” on relations over what he called their meddling in Iran’s post-election riots, state television reported. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments reflect continued efforts by the regime to blame Western powers such as the U.S. and Britain for unrest following the country’s disputed election. The Chinese state news agency reported that at least 140 people were killed and 816 injured when rioters clashed with the police in western China after days of rising tensions between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese. The casualty toll, if confirmed, would make this the deadliest outbreak of violence in China in many years.


Bloomberg reports that the Treasury Department has “signaled it intends to refrain from using stock acquired in rescued companies to influence corporate decisions, aside from approving board members and major transactions.”


An Associated Press analysis finds that “states that allow debt collectors to seize consumers’ wages have sharply higher bankruptcy rates” than states that prohibit or limit the practice. The apparent relationship “bolsters the arguments of consumer advocates, who have long said that intercepting someone’s wages to pay their debts only increases their financial vulnerability.”

Yesterday, a federal judge approved a plan by General Motors “to sell its best assets to a new, government-backed company, a crucial step for the automaker to restructure and complete its trip through bankruptcy court.”

Health Care

Ceci Connolly is reporting that White House officials are negotiating with “hospital industry representatives in the hopes of extracting voluntary financial concessions that could reduce the cost of a massive health-care revamp.”

On Sunday, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) “indicated that the House will not consider taxing workplace health benefits to help cover the cost of the reform bill.”


Over the weekend, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told a constituent, if you want good health insurance, “go work for the government.” He is also suggesting that he may drop his support for the final legislation and would “take pride with being an obstructionist.”


The “principles of fundamental fairness” and “equal access to the justice system” are being blocked according to a new study by New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice which found that many immigrants are systematically denied adequate language interpreters. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomed 6,000 new citizens in July 4 naturalization ceremonies that took place in approximately 50 different locations across the country.  The Department of Homeland Security will let Walter Lara, a young undocumented immigrant who was scheduled to be deported back to Argentina today, stay in the US for another year following an SEIU-backed advocacy campaign to keep him in the country.


Climate change may cause chronic hunger to become “the defining human tragedy of this century,” according to a report released today by Oxfam International ahead of next week’s G8 summit in Italy.

The New York Times reports that “the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation” as companies market new bulbs designed to meet higher energy efficiency standards.


According to a study by Australian scientists, “climate change is rapidly expanding the size of the world’s tropical zone, threatening to bring disease and drought to heavily populated areas.”