The WonkLine: June 18, 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

“Kyrgyzstan, an obscure country with a coveted location in Central Asia, is in serious danger of fragmenting. The crisis here, ebbing for now after days of ethnic violence and military atrocities, could have ramifications all the way to Washington.” “President Obama warned world economic leaders in a letter this week that the global recovery could founder on growing divisions over issues they pledged a year ago to resolve cooperatively.” “Under intense international pressure after its commandos killed nine activists aboard an aid flotilla…Israel on Thursday announced what it called “adjustments” in its policy, promising to ease the entry of civilian goods by land while maintaining its naval blockade.”


Even though 60 percent of Americans support additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy, the Senate yesterday failed to pass its tax extenders bill for a second time, on a 56–40 vote.


House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) said yesterday that Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s provision forcing banks to spin-off their derivatives desks will remain in the financial reform bill. “Oh, yes — it was always the case,” he said.

“Federal prosecutors have charged 1,215 people in hundreds of mortgage fraud cases that resulted in estimated losses of $2.3 billion,” administration officials said yesterday.

Health Care

“The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by 20 states challenging President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.”

“If Congress doesn’t approve $24 billion to help cover states’ costs for care to the poor and disabled, Virginia will have to confront a $165 million hole in its budget,” and “it would force Virginia and other states nationally to lay off thousands of workers.”


“A year-old team of Justice and Health and Human Services department investigators is making a dent in collecting and preventing improper payouts under the Medicare program, which is responsible for roughly half of the government’s $100 billion in improper payments annually.”


In response to news that the Department of Justice will be filing a lawsuit against Arizona’s new immigration law, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) retorted, “this is no way to treat the people of Arizona.” Several Georgia Republican senators and some gubernatorial candidates in both parties say undocumented immigrants should be barred from even attending the state’s public colleges and universities. Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) has arranged for U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to speak at an anti-immigrant rally in Colorado after King’s appearance at a fundraiser for candidate Cory Gardner was canceled over his racist remarks.

Climate Change

Senate Democrats doubt President Obama can find the votes for climate legislation: “I don’t see 60 votes,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) agreed, and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) called a carbon cap a “long shot.”

“The gas that escapes, what we don’t flare, goes up to the surface and is gone,” said BP spokesman Mark Proegler, claiming there is not significant undersea methane from the Deepwater Horizon gusher,” the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history.”


“We are well on the way to the next great extinction event” because “climate change was causing major declines in marine ecosystems,” as storms and heat waves kill people in Minnesota, Montana, and Missouri.