The WonkLine: December 11, 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.



Climate Change

A “protest has already broken out on the streets of downtown Copenhagen,” with some 40 protesters detained as demonstration organizers target big business and business leaders meeting on the sidelines of the climate conference.

“The European Union will contribute about $3 billion starting next year to help poorer countries deal with climate change,” but has not determined a long term commitment.

Sens. Kerry (D-MA), Graham (R-SC), and Lieberman (I-CT) reaffirmed their commitment to building the green economy with a “greenhouse gas emissions reduction target in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020,” although they also call for “increased incentives for offshore oil and gas drilling and government support for nuclear power plant construction.”

Health Care

“Senate moderates who are the linchpin to passing a health care reform bill raised fresh worries Thursday about a proposed Medicare expansion, complicating Majority Leader Harry Reid’s hopes of putting together a filibuster-proof majority for the legislation in the coming days,” Politico is reporting.

Ryan Grim pens this obituary: “The public health insurance option died on Thursday, December 10, 2009, after a months-long struggle with Senate parliamentary procedure. The time of death was recorded as 11:12 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.”

Steven Pearlstein loves Mitch Daniels. “The good Mitch, by contrast, is a principled but practical conservative who respects the intelligence of voters and would rather get something done than score political points,” he writes.


Goldman Sachs, “moving to defuse public outrage over its pay, said its top 30 executives will receive no cash bonuses for 2009 despite the firm’s expected record profits.

European leaders today urged the International Monetary Fund to examine a global financial transactions tax. Member states cited “the importance of renewing the economic and social contract between financial institutions and the society they serve.”

Bloomberg reports that U.S. taxpayers may gain $1.1 to $1.3 billion for Bank of America’s TARP warrants. Treasury has been “under pressure to get higher prices for warrants” after it sold earlier warrants for 66 percent of their value.


A new report shows that young Latinos “retain a strong identification with their immigrant parents’ homelands but also remain optimistic about their future in this country despite lower- than-average levels of education and income.”

In a meeting with The Arizona Republic’s Editorial Board, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reaffirmed that “overhauling the nation’s immigration laws is still a top priority for President Barack Obama and that Congress is poised to act.”

A New York Times editorial urges the Supreme Court to “weigh in against the improper splintering of national immigration policy” as it considers a challenge to Arizona’s immigration law.

National Security

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates predicted today that the international community will impose stronger economic sanctions on Iran unless its leaders change their policy and live up to agreements related to their nuclear program.

“Several American men arrested in Pakistan this week amid suspicion that they were plotting terrorist attacks planned to go to Afghanistan,” a Pakistani police interrogation report said. “The report, dated Thursday, sheds more light on a case that led Pakistani police to arrest five Americans Wednesday at a home in Sargodha, a town about 120 miles south of Islamabad.”

Suspected Jewish settlers attacked a mosque in the northern West Bank, burning holy books and spraying threatening graffiti in Hebrew on the building, Palestinian officials and Israeli police said. Extremists broke into the mosque in the village of Yasuf, near the city of Nablus, and burned Muslim holy books and prayers carpets, while sprayed slogans on the floor reading “Price tag – greetings from Effi.”