The WonkLine: November 16, 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.




General Motors reported today “that it lost $1.15 billion in the third quarter after emerging from bankruptcy in July 10, but it increased its cash reserves by $3.3 billion.” GM plans to begin repaying its loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments in December, “more than five years ahead of schedule.”

Of the financial institutions that received money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), 46 have “missed required dividend payments to the government as of the end of September.”

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said Friday that “the capital investment in banks begun last year by government was a mistake and created a ‘horrible public outcry‘ directed at the industry.”


The NY Post reports that CNN gave anchor Lou Dobbs an $8 million severance package to leave the network following feuds between CNN boss Jonathan Klein and Dobbs over “the kind of reporting Dobbs was doing on his show.”

A couple days after DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that her Department has laid the groundwork for immigration reform, senior White House adviser David Axelrod confirmed that work on a bipartisan immigration reform bill is advancing.

Anti-immigrant groups staged a series of Tea Party “copycat” protests across the nation this past weekend, without the support of tea bagger-operative Dick Armey who has long been opposed to nativist fear mongering.

Climate Change

The Wall Street Journal republishes Bjorn Lomborg’s argument that it is “immoral” to fight global warming when hunger and AIDS exist.

There can be no food security without climate security,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the world food summit in Rome, as “Africa, Asia and Latin America could see a decline of between 20 and 40 percent in potential agricultural productivity if temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius.”

Even as “world leaders have decided to put off the difficult task of reaching a climate change agreement at a global climate conference scheduled for next month,” Russian President Dmitri Medvedev warned on Monday that climate change posed a “catastrophic” threat.

Health Care

The New York Times is reporting that “even as drug makers promise to support Washington’s health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation’s drug costs after the legislation takes effect, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “is confident he’ll be able to kick off debate on a massive health care reform measure before Thanksgiving.” “We understand that there are people who have concerns about this bill. They’ll be able to address those concerns on the Senate floor, but the first step is starting debate,” one Senate Democratic leadership aide said.

The LA Times explains how health care reform “could jeopardize states’ consumer protection laws.”

National Security

President Obama landed in China yesterday, where he pushed for greater freedoms. Obama will attempt to prod “China’s leaders to get tough on Iran.”

“President Obama and Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev warned Sunday that they were losing patience with Tehran and wouldn’t wait much longer for it to accept a proposal to resolve the dispute,” according to the LA Times.

President Obama said yesterday that “the United States and Russia would have a replacement treaty on reducing nuclear arms ready for approval by year’s end, an announcement designed as an upbeat ending to a summit with Asia-Pacific leaders.”