The WonkLine: September 14, 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

“The commander of international forces in Afghanistan, US General David Petraeus, has ordered troops to limit corruption as they dole out billions of dollars in a drive to end a nine-year war.” “In a move that could strike a blow at already fragile peace talks, Jerusalem city planners will in the coming weeks discuss a scheme to build over a thousand Jewish housing units beyond the Green Line, Haaretz learned on Tuesday.” “Iran’s nuclear chief has called remarks by the head of the U.N.’s atomic energy agency a dangerous mistake. According to the state news agency Tuesday, Ali Akbar Salehi said ‘if Mr. Amano has expressed the remarks knowingly, he has committed a big mistake.’”


“The financial reform bill President Obama signed into law in July is the most popular of five major pieces of legislation Congress has passed in the past two years,” according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll.


The Obama administration denied reports yesterday that it is “considering naming Elizabeth Warren the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency to avoid a tough nomination fight on the Senate floor.”

The number of workers seeking Social Security disability benefits has increased 21 percent, the sharpest growth in the 54 year history of the program.

Health Care

“A contentious Obama administration appointee who runs Medicare and Medicaid on Monday offered his first road map for the programs, pledging to lower medical costs without harming patients.”


“Despite the improved Republican chances for a takeover of the House, some unions are spending against Democratic incumbents who voted ‘no’ on healthcare reform.”

“Defunding healthcare reform, as some Republicans have suggested, ‘is just Washington-speak for taking us back to the days when insurance companies — not you and your doctor — were in control of your care’ Stephanie Cutter wrote Monday on the White House blog.”

Climate Change

When the Senate Appropriations Committee votes Thursday on EPA’s budget, Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) say they “may support an amendment to block U.S. EPA climate rules,” with Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Tim Johnson (D-SD) likely to join them.

Several cities broke summer temperature records during the United States’ fourth hottest summer on record, including New York, Philadelphia, Trenton, Wilmington, Tallahassee, and Asheville, NC.


The second and third largest ocean dead zones are now in the United States, in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Oregon and Washington coast, with the Pacific coast seeing a six-fold increase in hypoxic zones since 1990.


Politico warns that the midterm elections could imperil immigration reform, noting that there could be “turnover in 17 seats held by Democrats and Republicans who, at one point, voted for a pathway to citizenship.” New FBI crime statistics for 2009 show that violent crime dropped nearly 14 percent in Arizona, and 5.3 percent nationwide. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said that the Obama administration has met every benchmark set by Congress on border security and called on lawmakers to “quit moving the goal posts.”