The WonkLine: September 8, 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

Unprecedented drought is devastating the economy, farmers, and wildlife in India, Mexico, China, Kenya, and the United States from Texas to California.

“Japan’s presumptive prime minister breathed new life on Monday into efforts to curb global warming, standing by a campaign pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent in the next 10 years from 1990 levels.”


“The world’s not heating up, it’s cooling down,” said Massey coal CEO Don Blankenship, who paid $1 million for a right-wing, anti-climate concert and rally in West Virginia on Labor Day.


Bloomberg reports that “as the White House and Congress debate how to regulate financial firms to avoid another economic crisis, judges have assumed the point position in punishing Wall Street for causing the worst recession since the 1930s.”

According to the World Economic Forum’s latest global competitiveness report, “Switzerland knocked the United States off the position as the world’s most competitive economy as the crash of the U.S. banking system left it more exposed to some long-standing weaknesses.”

Simon Johnson lays out what to expect from the coming G20 and IMF meetings.

Health Care

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has “sent members of a bipartisan negotiating group a framework for health care legislation that would cost less than $900 billion, levy new fees on insurers and create a network of consumer-owned insurance cooperatives.” The Gang of Six will meet today at 2:30pm to discuss the proposal.


Previewing his upcoming health care address, President Obama said in a speech on Monday that “in every debate there comes a time to decide. The time to decide is now. The time to act is now.”  Jonathan Cohn explains ‘Why Reform Survived August.’ “Despite all of the setbacks and all of the missed opportunities — despite this train wreck of a month — the situation remains remarkably similar to what it was before the recess,” Cohn observes.


After taking a closer look at the anti-immigrant emails in his inbox, a Los Angeles Times reporter found the chain-messages were packed with “hyperbole, exaggerations and misstatements by opponents.” Today, federal government agencies will begin using a mandatory electric employment verification system, E-Verify, crafted by the Bush administration, but implemented under the auspices of President Obama. The New York Times points out that though President Obama may not be ready to deal with immigration reform, the health care debate has “revive[d] the immigration battle” as misinformation spreads about undocumented immigrants and health care reform.

National Security

Yesterday, a British court “convicted three men of plotting to kill more than 1,500 people by smuggling bombs made with flammable liquid aboard at least seven transatlantic airliners, including one bound for Washington.” “Jewish settlers scuffled with Israeli peace activists in the West Bank after Minister of Defense Ehud Barak approved plans for 455 housing units in the territory, adding to the tension surrounding what has become the most contentious issue of the Obama-led peace process,” the Wall Street Journal reports. German lawmakers “demanded explanations” yesterday “for how and why their soldiers in Afghanistan, normally restricted to peacekeeping duties, triggered a NATO airstrike that killed approximately 100 people.”