The WonkLine: December 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. You can now follow The Wonk Room on Twitter, where we will be live-tweeting the Senate health care debate. Also, the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson will be blogging and tweeting from Copenhagen on the United Nations Climate Change Conference.




The New York Times reports that Justice Sonia Sotomayor “introduced one new and politically charged term into the Supreme Court lexicon”: undocumented immigrant.

Jeffrey S. Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center warns that the biggest challenge confronting the U.S.-born children of Latinos is being raised by undocumented immigrant parents — which will have a “profound” negative impact on the country unless something is done.

The Orlando Sun Sentinel writes that liberal bloggers and immigration advocates have pointed out that Progressives for Immigration Reform is nothing but a front-group for those who want to block real reform and that its leadership is associated with other anti-immigrant groups.

Climate Change

Tuvalu, one of the small island nations whose existence is threatened by climate change, called for the Kyoto Protocol to be amended to limit warming to below 1.5 degrees, with a greenhouse pollution target of 350ppm, lower than current concentrations.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, along with Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are heading to Copenhagen to talk “Climategate” and attack any climate regulations.

Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt further embarrasses the Washington Post by publishing a fact-challenged, rambling Climategate-meets-Copenhagen op-ed from former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Health Care

Today, the Senate is expected to consider a bipartisan effort to allow cheaper prescription drugs to be imported from Canada and other countries and Sen. Carpo’s amendment to remove tax increases for families earning more than $250,000 per year.

Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration criticized the drug re-importation proposal.

More than 800 companies and organizations that were not involved in health care at all last year … listed the hot-button topic as an issue that they were lobbying on this year in disclosure reports filed with Congress.”


McClatchy finds that financial giants, including Citigroup and Bank of America, “got, sometimes repeatedly, special exemptions from the Securities and Exchange Commission that have saved them from a regulatory death penalty.”

ProPublica reports that thousands of stimulus recipients have not yet filed reports, resulting in a “potential undercount of jobs created.”

A new report by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities shows that the U.S. “is one of only two nations on Earth in which people aged 25 to 34 have lower educational attainment than their parents.” The other is Germany.

National Security

Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki appealed Wednesday to Iraqis to stand by their security forces, even as angry lawmakers demanded answers and called on top officials to resign following the third massive attack against government sites since summer.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that efforts by right-wing activists to prevent the implementation of a freeze on new construction in West Bank settlements were “legitimate” and “natural.” Lieberman, who himself lives in a settlement, told Israel Radio that steps to thwart the moratorium were acceptable, so long as they remained within the bounds of the law.

The United States assured North Korea of “a robust channel” for direct talks if the communist regime rejoined nuclear negotiations, while a senior U.S. envoy was in Pyongyang on Wednesday to try to salvage the stalled talks. Envoy Stephen Bosworth is on a mission to win North Korea’s commitment to return to negotiations on dismantling the communist regime’s nuclear program. Pyongyang walked away from the six-nation talks earlier this year, angered by criticism of its nuclear and missile programs. A nuclear test soon followed.