The WonkLine: October 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.

Climate Change

Among the thousands of bloggers participating in Blog Action Day by writing about climate change is UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who writes, “Climate change is the biggest threat to all our futures.”

The House Global Warming Committee is holding a hearing to investigate forged letters from Bonner & Associates as part of a $10 million Astroturf campaign to oppose climate and clean energy legislation by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.


“Ecologists estimate that Arctic lands and oceans are responsible for up to 25 percent of the global net sink of atmospheric carbon dioxide,” but the “rapid rate of climate change in the Arctic” could spur a catastrophic release of methane, making the region a net source of greenhouse gases.


According to the the National Assessment of Educational Progress, “fewer than four of 10 fourth- and eighth-graders are proficient in mathematics…adding to recent evidence that the U.S. drive to become more economically competitive by overhauling public education may be falling short.”

The administration yesterday “attempted to preempt the announcement that Social Security recipients will not get an increase in their benefit checks for the first time in three decades” by advocating a one-time payment of $250 to seniors.

Simon Johnson writes that the Chamber of Commerce’s small business membership “should wake up to the current reality and press the Chamber hard to change its position [opposing the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency] before it is too late.”

Health Care

The insurance industry has released another study saying they will increase costs after health reform passes.

The Senate Finance Committee’s health-care plan bill is being hit from the left and the right. Yesterday, labor groups criticized the bill “deeply flawed” for its “lack of a government-run option and its tax on expensive health-insurance plans.”


The Washington Post explores the “hidden costs” of Medicare Advantage plans: “[T]he extra benefits are not exactly free; they are subsidized by the government. And some of the plans pass their costs on to seniors, who pay higher co-pays and additional fees to get care.”


Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) agreed to modify his amendment and only require the US Census to ask participants about their citizenship status, not their immigration status. Some local and state police agencies are having “second thoughts” about their 287(g) agreements which allow them to work with immigration authorities to enforce immigration law, indicating that the new rules cost too much time and money and damage their relationship with immigrants. An undocumented Mexican immigrant was severely beaten in Brooklyn by men who chased him down yelling “Mojado!” “Hey, wetback!”.

National Security

The Washington Times reports “a key al Qaeda military planner thought dead by the United States and Pakistan gave an interview this week to a Pakistani reporter, illustrating the uncertainties of a military strategy based on air strikes by unmanned drones.” BBC reports “Israel has come under pressure from its allies to investigate UN allegations of possible war crimes by its army during its Gaza offensive last winter. Britain’s UN envoy urged Israel to hold “full, credible and impartial” investigations, echoing similar calls from his US and French counterparts.” The Washington Post reports “the Pakistani cultural capital of Lahore came under assault this morning, as bands of militants and suicide bombers stormed three security installations in attacks that appeared to be coordinated. Around the same time, a suicide bomber blew up part of a police station in the northwestern city of Kohat. The death toll from the four attacks was 37, wire services said.”