The WonkLine: November 3, 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.



Health Care

According to The Hill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) “has reached a private understanding with Majority Leader Harry Reid that he will not block a final vote on health care reform, according to two sources briefed on the matter.”

Congressional Daily reports that Democrats are close to finalizing an abortion compromise that would strengthen the segregation of private and public funds without writing into law the Hyde Amendment’s prohibition on using federal funds for abortion.

A new Senate analysis suggests that for-profit insurance companies spend as little as 66 cents of each dollar on health care, “while the rest covers administrative expenses, marketing and company profits, according to the analysis.”


According to a new report, “nearly half of all U.S. children and 90 percent of black youngsters will be on food stamps at some point during childhood, and fallout from the current recession could push those numbers even higher.”

The British government announced yesterday that “it will break up parts of major financial institutions bailed out by taxpayers, highlighting a growing divide across the Atlantic over how to deal with the massive banks that were partially nationalized during the height of the financial crisis.”

Ryan Avent asks “what if for one year — just one year — we allocated as much money for infrastructure as we did for defense?”

Climate Change

Despite attacking the scientific criticism of SuperFreakonomics as being motivated by their “interests in non-carbon energy sources,” author Stephen J. Dubner joins the “doomsayers” his book mocks, saying “We’re heading towards cataclysm.”

Climate change will wholly eliminate the snows of Kilimanjaro “within a decade or two,” a new scientific report has found. “The climatological conditions currently driving the loss of Kilimanjaro’s ice fields are clearly unique within an 11,700-year perspective.”

On the day of the introduction of “Our Choice,” Al Gore’s new book about how we can build a green economy, the New York Times runs a front page story promoting right-wing attacks on his investments in clean energy — picked up by the Drudge Report.

National Security

Analyzing the Obama administration’s troubled efforts at Middle East peacemaking, Tony Karon writes “Having made resolving the Middle East’s most intractable conflict a top foreign policy priority, the Administration now needs the symbolic resumption of talks simply to signal progress.”

Sam Stein reports that the National Iranian American Council and J Street, “two relatively new organizations — each covering distinctly opposite ends on the spectrum of Middle Eastern affairs — have been the target of withering public relations attacks in recent weeks and months.”

Reuters reports that Afghan election officials declared Hamid Karzai president after “intense behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity to prevent a one-man contest on November 7.”


Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific Islander Caucus are pushing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow undocumented immigrants to participate in the health insurance exchange and purchase insurance at full cost.

The U.S. Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to comment on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s challenge to an Arizona immigration law which imposed penalties on businesses that hire undocumented immigrants and requires all employers to use an online verification system.

Ben Reed was a conservative shock jock, but changed his philosophy after falling in love with a Mexican immigrant who was deported on their wedding day.