The WonkLine: November 17, 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

In Beijing, President Barack Obama said today that next month’s climate talks in Copenhagen should cut a deal with “immediate operational effect,” rather than a “partial accord or political declaration,” even if its original aim of a legally binding pact is not achievable.

The Senate has decided to put consideration of clean energy legislation “in the near aftermath of financial reform,” making its enactment by spring questionable. “I’m totally unconcerned about Copenhagen,” said Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV).

Unveiling a $100 billion nuclear-industry subsidy plan with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) said he had ” some real questions about the real complexities on cap and trade,” claiming there is “no way to fully measure [its] potential impact on the economy.”

Health Care

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expecting the CBO score for the merged Senate bill today, and is likely to brief the Democratic Caucus on the details of the bill tomorrow. The Senate could vote to begin debate on Sunday.

TNR’s Suzy Khimm is reporting that “the Senate leadership has basically decided to give more help to middle-class families on the higher of the subsidy spectrum, whose incomes are 300 to 400% above the poverty line.”

A new poll conducted by the Associated Press found that “when it comes to paying for health overhaul, Americans see just one way to go: Tax the rich.” “Participants sour on other ways of paying for the health overhaul that is being considered in Congress, including taxing insurers on high-value coverage packages derided by President Barack Obama and Democrats as ‘Cadillac plans.'”


According to a new report by the TARP Inspector General, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — led by Tim Geithner — “gave up much of its power in high-pressure negotiations with the American International Group’s trading partners last year,” potentially costing the U.S. billions more than was necessary.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke “warned on Monday that high unemployment and a continued reluctance by banks to make loans were likely to slow the economic recovery for the next year.”

Tim Fernholz points out that Sen. Dodd’s regulatory reform plan “would make the Fed more independent by lessening the influence of major banks on the institution.”


The New York Times’ Caucus blog toys with the thought of a potential senatorial run-off between ex-CNN anchor Lou Dobbs and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

Immigrant girls and women will no longer have to receive Gardasil shots against a sexually transmitted virus (HPV) to get their green cards following a decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obama’s nomination for U=.S. attorney in northern Iowa, Stephanie Rose, is the subject of deep criticism by many who say she “treated illegal immigrants with excessive harshness” as lead prosecutor in a controversial crackdown on undocumented immigrants in Postville, Iowa in 2008.

National Security

“Czech students will take to the streets Tuesday, just as they did two decades ago when their historic march ushered in the fall of communist rule. The commemorative parade will follow the route students took in 1989 when they were blocked by police from entering Wenceslas Square in the heart of the capital, Prague.”

“The United States on Monday congratulated Kosovo on holding its first local elections since its unilateral declaration of independence.”

“Saudi clerics have accused Yemeni Houthi rebels of working with Iran to try to spread Shi’ism in Sunni Islam’s heartland, days before the start of the annual Muslim haj pilgrimage.”