The WonkLine: June 15, 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

A day after declaring the elections “fair” and “overwhelming,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered a probe of the election results after massive protests challenging the election results.

In an anticipated speech on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time endorsed a Palestinian state, but did not call for a complete freeze on settlement expansion despite pressure from President Obama to do so.


Pakistan prepares for a showdown with al Qeada in South Waziristan, where they plan an attack against Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.


Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced yesterday that “the federal government will spend up to $350 million to help states developing national standards for reading and math.”

According to projections from IHS Global Insight, “only six metropolitan areas across the country are expected to regain their pre-recession employment levels by the end of 2009.” McClatchy reports that “286 of 325 metro areas covered in the IHS analysis aren’t likely to regain their pre-recession employment levels until at least 2012.”

Erica Alini at Real Time Economics takes a look at what the Iranian election controversy means for Iran’s economy.


Immigration advocates are disappointed and GOP members are accusing Obama of “playing games with immigration” after the White House announced that it will postpone, for the second time, its meeting on immigration policy that was set to take place this week.


Anti-immigration activist and vigilante leader of the Minuteman American Defense, Shawna Ford, was arrested in Arizona for her connection to the home invasion and “premeditated” murder of Raul Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Mexican police officers who “stood up to drug cartels” and seek U.S. asylum are finding immigration judges “unsympathetic,” leaving officers with the options of jumping the U.S. border or returning to Mexico to face certain death.


Although Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) argues climate legislation is a “national energy tax which will disproportionately target rural America,” the National Farmers Union believes “farmers need the chance to participate in a cap-and-trade system to become part of the climate change solution.”

Despite wild storms in Texas that killed two and left 500,000 people without power last week, a devastating drought still grips the state.

In Senate Energy and Resources Committee energy bill negotiations, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) won concessions for coal-fired power, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) got support for accelerated and expanded off-shore drilling.

Health Care

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) doesn’t think there are 60 votes to pass health care reform with a public health insurance plan. “I think you are in a 60-vote environment. And that means you have got to attract some Republicans, as well as holding virtually all the Democrats together,” Conrad said. “And that, I don’t believe, is possible with the pure public option. I don’t think the votes are there.”


Jacob Hacker responds to Conrad’s co-op compromise: “But a national cooperative would still fall so dramatically short of a public plan that it would only be attractive in addition to a national public plan, not as a substitute for it.”

On Saturday, President Obama outlined $313 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending cuts over the next decade “to help cover the cost of expanding coverage to tens of millions of America’s uninsured.”