The WonkLine: June 19, 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

The New York Times reports that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in his first public response to six days of unrest, “sternly warned opposition supporters on Friday to stay off the streets and denied their accusations that last week’s presidential election was rigged.” AFP reports that “the US military beefed up defenses in Hawaii on Friday over fears that North Korea could launch a missile toward the Pacific island chain. The US military also tracked a North Korean ship possibly carrying banned cargo — the first vessel to be monitored under UN sanctions imposed last week.” The Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent her 64th birthday in prison today sharing biryani rice and chocolate cake with her guards, according to aides.


President Obama will likely bring up immigration reform at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast that he is attending this morning, as conservatives grow cynical and the pressure heats up on Obama to deliver on his promises to the Latino and immigrant communities. USA Today reports that a group of Obama’s harshest critics — U.S. Catholic Bishops — are offering the President their support of his comprehensive immigration reform agenda.” Yesterday, BBC News reported that the American Dream has “evaporated” for many immigrants in the U.S. as job opportunities have shrunk and many immigrants find themselves unable to help their families back in their native countries that depend on their remittances.


A new report by the MIT Energy Initiative urges the United States “to ‘dramatically expand’ its support for carbon capture research and development to the tune of $12 billion to $15 billion over the next decade.”


Congress passed a $1 billion “cash for clunkers” plan yesterday, under which consumers will receive between $3,500 to $4,500 when they trade in their car for a more fuel-efficient model. Critics claim the program sets the bar too low on fuel efficiency.

Facing dissent from within her own Democratic caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) lobbied for Republican support yesterday for the climate change bill currently being debated in the House, according to Politico.


FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair told CNBC today that “a proposed council to monitor firms for systemic risk needs greater powers, and suggested she will lobby Congress to expand her agency’s authority.” “This is an institutional issue, it’s not a turf issue or personality issue,” she said.

Real Time Economics asks if higher education is the next bubble: “Just as house prices did, average tuition and fees have risen much faster than inflation; and, just as many homeowners did, most American families with kids in college have relied on debt to foot the bill.”


Andrew Leonard points out that we may be a nation of Hebert Hoovers. Paul Krugman digs up some old poll results to show that we’ve been this way since the 1930’s.

Health Care

The chairmen of the House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Education and Labor Committee will release their draft proposal for health care at 1 p.m. today. “A new public health insurance plan, strongly opposed by Republicans, would compete with private companies within a new health care purchasing “exchange” where Americans could shop for coverage,” the AP reports.

“Seven senators have formed a bipartisan group to find consensus on health-care reform legislation, a sign of fresh momentum after a week of setbacks.” The group, dubbed by its members as the “Coalition of the Willing.”

Tom Daschle defends the Bipartisan Policy Center’s health care proposal.