The WonkLine: December 10, 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.




According to the latest RealtyTrac data, “foreclosure filings in the U.S. will reach a record for the second consecutive year with 3.9 million notices sent to homeowners in default.”

The Associated Press reports that “an unexpected surge in college enrollment has created an $18 billion shortfall in the Pell Grant program, the biggest in its history.”

President Obama is bringing a dozen bank CEO’s to the White House next week “to press them to do more for the economy” — including increase lending — “even as many of the firms are striving to get out from under the government’s thumb.”


Former mayor of Hazleton, PA — Lou Barletta — announced that he will run to unseat his successor, though so far he has not touched the immigration issue that put his name in the headlines when he attempted to drive undocumented immigrants from his city.

The Wall Street Journal points out that immigration law gives “an anonymous group of government bureaucrats a lot of cultural clout” by allowing them to decide who is “culturally unique” enough to receive a performer visa and visit the U.S.

Last year, an estimated 61 percent of new businesses were launched by immigrants as more immigrant-owned businesses are starting to pop up at levels unimaginable decades ago.

Health Care

“Democratic aides said the Medicare provision could still be dropped or altered before the measure advances to the floor. That could happen as soon as next week, assuming Reid can answer remaining questions. Democrats hope to keep the legislation on track for final passage before Christmas.”

Later today, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) “will release a bipartisan package of amendments to the health-care reform bill. One of them is really good. One of them is harder to evaluate. And one of them is rather small. But all are worth taking seriously,” Ezra Klein concludes.

The Hill has a great roundup of lawmaker reactions to the public option compromise.

Climate Change

“As the climate change summit meeting moves forward in Copenhagen, it is increasingly clear that more than just the environment is at stake,” writes Mikhail Gorbachev. “The global environmental crisis is at the heart of practically all the problems now confronting us, including the need to create a global economic model grounded in the public good.”

Renowned climatologist Stephen Schneider was accosted by wingnut climate-denier filmmaker Phelim McAleer, who “took to the stage and repeatedly asked professor Schneider if he ‘approved of deleting data’.”

India and China have blocked discussions of Tuvalu’s proposal to strengthen the Kyoto Protocol to require all countries, not just industrialized nations, to reduce their emissions.

National Security

President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize today “acknowledging the irony of winning it as a wartime president and calling his own accomplishments “slight” in comparison to past winners. But in his speech to the Nobel Committee, Obama spoke of the concept of a “just war” and the pursuit of a “just peace,” which he said sometimes depends on more than simply refraining from violence.”

“Five young men from Northern Virginia have been arrested in Pakistan at the home of a man linked to a radical jihadist group, and Pakistani authorities are questioning them about any possible links to terrorism, diplomatic and law enforcement officials said Wednesday.”

“A bare majority of Americans support President Obama’s plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but many are skeptical that the United States can count on Afghanistan as a partner in the fight or that the escalation would reduce the chances of a domestic terrorist attack, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.”