The WonkLine: September 4, 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

“Warming as a result of increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has overwhelmed a millennia-long cycle of natural cooling in the Arctic, raising temperatures in the region to their highest for at least 2,000 years,” according to a report.

“It is very telling that India, China and Mexico have all balked at committing to strong carbon reductions,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said at a conference with oil executives. “Considering the pain Utahns would be asked to bear…Waxman-Markey is a risk I am not willing to take.”


The American Farm Bureau says the EPA’s plan to tailor regulation of greenhouse pollution only to large emitters would protect small businesses, but “one lawsuit would probably change it right back.” The Wall Street Journal claims the rule “essentially rewrites clear statutory language of the Clean Air Act by bureaucratic decree.”


A new report, “Moving to the Land of Milk and Cookies,” shows that the sons of immigrants in the US experience “alarmingly high levels of childhood obesity” that is more pronounced among children whose parents do not speak English. Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio told the Phoenix Business Journal that most of his controversial immigration raids “start with a tip from a disgruntled current or former employee” who knows or suspects an employer is hiring undocumented immigrants. New Jersey’s Lt. Gov. candidate Kim Guadagno accused the state’s Attorney General Anne Milgram of having “incited an immigrant community in a way that can be fairly characterized as hate mongering” via her support of allowing local police to enforce immigration law.

Health Care

Kaiser Health News is reporting that under the House health bill, “people receiving government subsidies could still end up spending 20 percent or more of their annual incomes on premiums, deductibles and co-insurance.”


Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) says he doesn’t think a public option will make it into the final version of the health bill. “”I’m not sure if public option is going to survive, frankly,” Baucus told a crowd in Missoula yesterday, saying a co-op system is much more likely.”

David Brooks doesn’t think health care reform will lower long-term health care spending.


U.S. payrolls fell by 216,000 in August, the 20th consecutive month of declines, but the smallest since August 2008. The unemployment rate now stands at 9.7 percent, a 26-year high.

Yesterday, the Treasury Department “proposed tough international standards on capital and liquidity at banks.” The standards include “higher capital levels at all banks and even more stringent requirements for banks that could pose a threat to overall financial stability.”

Elizabeth Warren makes the case for turning up the heat on non-bank lenders.

National Security

According to Afghan officials, a NATO airstrike early today “killed at least 80 people, many of them civilians, in a once-calm region of northern Afghanistan that has recently slipped under control of insurgents.”


The U.S. “has halted all non-humanitarian aid to Honduras — about $30m — in the wake of June’s coup.” The state department said it “needed to take strong action given the failure of the replacement regime to restore ‘democratic, constitutional rule.’”

Defense Secretary Gates said yesterday that the U.S. effort in Afghanistan is “only now beginning,” and that he disagrees with those who say it’s time to get out.