The WonkLine: November 9, 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.



National Security

According to McClatchy News, “President Barack Obama is nearing a decision to send more than 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan next year, but he may not announce it until after he consults with key allies and completes a trip to Asia later this month.”

Reuters reports that “thousands of Japanese gathered in sweltering heat on the southern island of Okinawa on Sunday to demand that a U.S. Marine base be moved out of the region.”

The Iraqi Parliament yesterday passed a law “to administer a critical national election in January, a significant milestone for its fragile democracy and a step that will allow the rapid withdrawal of American combat forces early next year.”


Wall Street’s big three — Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley — are on track to hand out $29.7 billion in bonuses this year. “That’s up 60 percent from last year and more than the previous high of $26.8 billion in 2007,” Bloomberg notes.

In an interview with London’s Sunday Times, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said that investment banks serve a social purpose. Blankfein explained that he sees himself as just a banker “doing God’s work.”

According to the United Nations, “political corruption costs governments about $1.6tn every year. The money is lost in public assets moved across borders via money-laundering or undeclared holdings.”


Neo-Nazis were outnumbered by counter-protesters at both of their anti-immigration rallies this weekend in Phoenix, AZ and Austin, MN.

A new poll shows 54% of Californian voters prefer Congress change immigration laws to allow undocumented immigrants to become citizens as opposed to the only 39% who favor stronger border controls and deporting anyone who’s in the country illegally.

An emotional vigil marking the one-year anniversary of the brutal murder of an Ecuadorean immigrant was held on Long Island Sunday as more and more high-profile attacks on the community’s growing Hispanic population come to light.

Health Care

Nancy Pelosi’s decision to introduce the Stupak abortion amendment on the floor of the House, angered several liberal Democrats, Politico reports. “One by one, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had leaned on her rank-and-file Democrats for months to cast off personal prerogatives for the sake of a history-making health care bill. But for Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, this was too much to ask.”

The New York Times suggests that “the House bill was not as bad for business as many in the health care industry might have feared when the overhaul effort began many months ago.”

Reform now moves to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is awaiting the Congressional Budget Office score for the merged Senate bill.

Climate Change

More than 80% of Tibet’s vast glaciers — which feed the rivers of China and India — are in retreat as global warming has raised temperatures six times as fast as the rest of China, elimated 3,000 lakes, and raised the snowline from 4,600 meters to 5,300 meters.

Typhoon Mirinae killed 123 people in Vietnam and Hurricane Ida killed 124 people in El Salvador. “U.S. oil companies were shutting production and evacuating workers” as Ida churns towards the Gulf Coast.

Writing in Newsweek and the Washington Post, right-wing climate denier George Will mocks “climate doomsayers,” claims that “computer models did not predict” this decade’s climate and compares concern about global warming to “nonsensical fears” about shark attacks.