The WonkLine: October 21, 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.




Mike Lillis at the Washington Independent reports that “Republicans are hoping to attach a number of amendments related to ACORN and immigration” to a bill extending unemployment benefits, and that these provisions “have delayed floor action on the UI bill indefinitely.”

In the last five months, the 22 biggest TARP recipients have cut their small business lending by $8 billion, and “as unemployment nears 10%, lawmakers are worried about the ripple effects of the credit clampdown.”

Felix Salmon on a report that former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson held a secret “social event” with the Goldman Sachs board of directors in Moscow: “This is sleazy in the extreme, and will only serve to heighten suspicions that Paulson’s Treasury was rigging the game in favor of Goldman all along.”


San Francisco supervisors voted to overturn an existing ordinance and require local police to turn over juvenile undocumented immigrants to immigration authorities only after they are convicted of a felony crime, instead of at the time of their arrest.

Latino activists are “proud that CNN talks about issues important to them” in its “Latino in America” documentary, but “disappointed the network isn’t addressing Dobbs’ [immigration] position head-on.”

The Washington Independent points out that after an Arizona judge ordered Sheriff Joe Arpaio to stop charging prisoners for transport associated with obtaining abortion services, Arpaio’s lawyer erroneously claimed that there is a “federal law that prevents us from extending credit to an illegal alien.”

Climate Change

President Obama “spoke by phone with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on Wednesday with the leaders voicing hope for progress at December climate change talks, China’s state media reported.”

“With the clock running out and deep differences unresolved, it now appears that there is little chance that international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in December will produce a comprehensive and binding new treaty on global warming,” the New York Times reports.

A study released yesterday “suggested that the forests of the Pacific Northwest could see a substantial gain in productivity” from climate change. “The bulk of the gains from climate change will be seen at higher elevations — above 3,000 feet — and in forests east of the Cascade Mountains.” “Lower-elevation forests, where most of the commercial timber is harvested, could see reduced growth as a result of drier conditions.”

National Security

AP reports “President Hamid Karzai’s chief political rival agreed Wednesday to take part in the Nov. 7 runoff election, setting the stage for a high-stakes showdown in the face of Taliban threats and approaching winter snows. However, ex-Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah said he would not accept an election organized on the same terms as the August presidential vote and was preparing a list of conditions for election organizers. ”

The New York Times reports “Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. moved to repair a rift with Eastern Europe on Wednesday by announcing an agreement to station interceptors from President Obama’s reformulated missile defense system on the territory of this NATO ally.”

Al Jazeera reports “The UN’s atomic watchdog says Iran has agreed to consider a deal on its nuclear program, which could see it ship out most of its enriched uranium to Russia.”

Health Care

President Obama has gone silent on health care. “After spending much of the summer and most of September banging his presidential drum in favor of a health care overhaul, Mr. Obama, entering what one senior White House official called ‘a quiet period,‘ is intentionally lowering his public profile on the issue, for the moment.”

Senate Democrats have “backed down from their effort to increase Medicare payments to doctors without offsetting any of the cost over the next 10 years.”

“House Democrats have cut the cost of their health care bill from more than $1 trillion over 10 years to $871 billion over a decade.”