The WonkLine: November 20, 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

Iran analyst Genieve Abdo writes “as [Iran’s] religious and political crisis unfolds, it is becoming clearer that the central problem, among many, lies with Khamenei and his absolute power as Supreme Leader.” Abdo suggests that the Supreme Leader will not be replaced after he dies.

Dipali Mukhopadhyay writes that acknowledging the role played by warlords in Afghanistan governance “need not mean the abandonment of formal institutional capacity building on the part of international, intervening organizations.”

Venezuela has blown up two pedestrian bridges on its border with Colombia in the latest sign of deteriorating relations between the Andean neighbors.


The House Financial Services Committee approved a measure yesterday, proposed by Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Alan Grayson (D-FL), “that would allow Congress to order audits of all the [Federal Reserve’s] lending programs as well as of its basic decisions to set monetary policy.”

House Democrats are looking at implementing a financial transactions tax, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said yesterday that any such tax “would have to take effect internationally to keep Wall Street jobs and related business from moving overseas.”

“What’s Obama’s trade policy?” asks McClatchy’s Kevin Hall. “So far, there isn’t much of one.”

Climate Change

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) tells President Obama not to be a leader on climate change, saying, “As a country, I know we’re not there yet, so I would hope the president wouldn’t be out in front of where the country has been.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) trashes the efforts by his former best friends, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to develop climate and clean energy legislation: “Obviously, they’re going nowhere.”

The Department of Labor announced “nearly $55 million in grants to help workers, many in underserved communities, find jobs in expanding green industries,” as the United States and China race for clean energy jobs.


Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs told Reuters that he is “mulling” a Senate or White House run, stating “Do I seek to have some influence on public policy? Absolutely. Do I seek to represent and champion the middle class in this country and those who aspire to it? Absolutely.”

The White House denies claims made by Latino leaders that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel “has his fingerprints all over” the Obama administration’s support of barring undocumented immigrants from purchasing health insurance at full cost on the exchange.

Federal prosecutors dropped all 72 immigration charges against Sholom Rubashkin — the owner of the company which underwent the nation’s largest immigration raid.”

Health Care

The Senate will vote on Saturday on a motion to proceed with the health care reform bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) doesn’t have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster but remains ‘cautiously’ optimistic that hold outs Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) will vote for the motion by 8pm.

Yesterday, the House “overwhelmingly approved a physician repayment bill to permanently fix the way doctors who cover Medicare patients are reimbursed. Only one Republican member [Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)] voted with Democrats for the bill that was approved 243-183.”

“Chances of business supporting the Obama administration’s health overhaul are fading fast, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill took a liberal turn,” the Wall Street Journal is reporting.