The WonkLine: May 17, 2010

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. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.

Climate Change

The Center for Biological Diversity plans to sue the Minerals Management Service for approving “three lease sales, more than 100 seismic surveys and more than 300 drilling operations since Salazar took office in 2009 without the required environmental permits meant to protect endangered whales and other marine mammals.”

While the Jutice Department investigates Massey for possible “willful criminal activity,” activists have blockaded Massey’s regional headquarters in West Virginia.


Africa’s lake Tanganyika “has heated up sharply over the past 90 years and is now warmer than at any time for at least 1,500 years.”


President Felipe Calderón arrives in Washington this week for a two-day state visit that is “likely to showcase Mexico’s frustration over Arizona’s tough new immigration law, which Calderón has described as anti-Mexican.” Former Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin teamed up with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer over the weekend to promote a website that aims to help “educate” Americans on the Arizona SB-1070. A 24-year-old Lebanese immigrant was crowned Miss USA 2010 while first runner-up Miss Oklahoma said she supported Arizona’s immigration law during the Q&A; session.


On Tuesday, Arizona voters will face a ballot initiative, championed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), that if approved would raise the sales tax by 1 cent for the next three years. Brewer argues that additional budget cuts “will gut schools and public safety programs already reeling from big reductions last year.”


The Associated Press reports that, in order to balance their budgets, states across the country are making “unprecedented” cuts to children’s aid and health programs.

Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) “offered a narrow path for compromise over the weekend” on Lincoln’s financial reform provision that would force banks to spin off their derivatives trading desks.

Health Care

Sen. Parry Murray (D-WA) criticized states using the new health care reform law to limit abortion coverage by private insurers. “Implementation of this reform should be about increasing access to health care and increasing choices, not taking them away,” she said.

“Small businesses in the U.S. will get tax credits this year to pay for more than a third of the cost of providing medical care for employees under a new program created under the health law,” BusinessWeek reports.

The Boston Globe penned an editorial today in favor of Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama’s nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid, saying that he “could end up being one of the most significant appointees in the administration.”

National Security

“A cross-sectarian coalition led by secularist former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi held its two-seat win in Iraq’s March 7 election after a recount of votes cast in Baghdad, elections officials said Sunday.” “Iran announced an agreement on Monday to ship some of its nuclear fuel to Turkey in a deal that could offer a short-term solution to its ongoing nuclear standoff with the West, or prove to be a tactic aimed at derailing efforts to bring new sanctions against Tehran.” “Farmers from the district of Marja, which since February has been the focus of the largest American-led military operation in Afghanistan, are fleeing the area, saying that the Taliban are terrorizing the population and that American troops cannot protect the civilians.”