The WonkLine: September 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.


U.S. astronaut and son of Mexican migrant workers, José Hernández, told Mexico’s Televisa network that the US needs to legalize its undocumented immigrants.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) said he would include a proposal in his bill originally put forth by the White House that bars undocumented immigrants from participating in the exchange, even if they are willing and able to purchase private insurance at full cost. Roll Call reports that Latinos are angered by the hateful tone that has taken “center stage” in the debate on immigrants and health care, as Rep. José Serrano (D-NY) accuses Senate Democrats of “running away from the [immigration] issue to satisfy a vocal little group.”

Health Care

“While public polling indicates that Americans are pretty evenly-divided over health reform efforts, there’s one subgroup of knowledgeable stakeholders who are strongly convinced of the need for passing legislation with a public option.” Nearly three-quarters of doctors want some form of a public plan — 63 percent favor public/private competition while 10 percent want a single-payer system.”

The New York Times asks, “how much should older Americans pay for insurance?

Will you be able to purchase coverage if the Baucus health care bill passes? Jonathan Cohn has the answers.


Citigroup is reportedly working on a plan “to reduce the U.S. government’s 34% stake” in the company, though it hasn’t yet held “in-depth talks with the government.”


A U.S. federal judge yesterday “issued a sharp rebuke to the Securities and Exchange Commission by throwing out a $33m settlement between the regulator and Bank of America, calling the agreement ‘cynical’ and setting the stage for a trial next year.” Judge Jed Rakoff said that the agreement was a “contrivance designed to provide the SEC with the facade of enforcement.”

Reuters’ Soyoung Kim and Jo Winterbottom chronicle Chrysler’s race against time: “[I]ts sales remain under pressure and analysts caution that fixing Chrysler’s product difficulties will not be fast, easy or cheap.”

National Security

The New York Times reports that “hours after his release from prison, the Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush said that he had been tortured while in jail, and his family said that he would flee Iraq, fearing for his life.”

The AP reports that “after a 60-day review of the nation’s terror-alert system, a special task force is expected to recommend that the Obama administration keep color-coded alerts, but reduce the number of colors — or levels of risk.”


The U.N.’s Electoral Complaints Commission yesterday “ordered Afghanistan’s election commission to recount ballots from about 10 percent of the country’s polling stations because of suspicious totals in last month’s presidential vote.”


“Across the country, Americans are experiencing first-hand the impacts of climate change, from growing pressure on water supplies to more intense droughts and fires to rampant bark beetle infestations,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, announcing the department’s climate change response strategy.

“Food banks across the country are being stretched by a recession-fueled surge in first time users,” with 99 percent of those surveyed by Feeding America reporting a “significant uptick in requests for food,” and “98 percent pinned the increase on new visitors to food banks.”

“The Tennessee Valley Authority will provide $40 million to help restore the image and economy of a Tennessee community that suffered a massive coal ash spill from a TVA power plant,” in addition to “cleanup costs estimated to total $1 billion.”