The WonkLine: December 14, 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.



Health Care

Just days after signaling that he would not oppose a Medicare buy-in, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) announced yesterday that he would vote against the health care bill if it included the measure.

“A new national poll finds that fully one third of Democratic voters say that they’re ‘less likely’ to vote in 2010 if Congress doesn’t pass a public option, underscoring the possibility that dropping the provision seriously risks dampening the Dem base’s enthusiasm.”

“The pharmaceutical industry is negotiating with the White House and lawmakers on a revised health care deal under which the industry would ante up cuts beyond the $80 billion it agreed to this summer,” according to Washington lobbyists.”


President Obama is bringing the heads of major banks to the White House today “to urge them to make more loans and to accept the necessity of greater regulation.”

Citigroup is reportedly set to “repay $20 billion in government assistance and exit a program under which the U.S. would cover losses on billions of dollars in loans, bringing an end to weeks of wrestling with its regulators and the Treasury Department.”

According to USA Today, “millions of Americans are waiting longer for unemployment checks, disability payments and food stamps as states furlough workers who process the benefits.”

Climate Change

Climate change negotiations in Copenhagen “unexpectedly ground to a halt” when a coalition representing 130 developing nations walked out of climate negotiations over the two track negotiations that they fear will dissolve the Kyoto Protocol.

Negotiators in Copenhagen are debating a compromise that will allow world leaders to delay an agreement on emissions cuts, a “key decision on preventing catastrophic climate change,” for six years.

Glaciers that have long provided water and electricity are disappearing across Bolivia leading to “climate-induced catastrophes.” Glaciers have been a constant part of Bolivia’s landscape and “their disappearance from certain vistas is as startling to Bolivians as the absence of the twin towers is to New Yorkers.”


Shortly after the new Paraguayan government appointed Paraguayan immigrant Augusto Noguera to an administrative post in the government’s New York consulate, it was discovered that he had not been legally living in the U.S. since the 1990s.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested 300 undocumented immigrants this past week, more the 80% of whom had convictions for serious or violent crimes.

A group of national organizations released a national statement in conjunction with the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen “calling for increased attention and awareness” of forced displacement caused by climate change and the protection of climate refugees.

National Security

“Tens of thousands of Palestinians have turned out in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the founding of the Islamist group Hamas.”

“Iran is to put on trial three Americans accused of spying in a move that is sure to strain already frayed US-Iranian relations. Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, told a press conference that the three hikers would face the judiciary after they were arrested for crossing the border from Iraq in July.”

“Tony Blair used ‘deceit’ to persuade parliament and the British people to support war in Iraq, Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, said today. In an article in the Times, Macdonald attacked Blair for engaging in ‘alarming subterfuge,’ for displaying ‘sycophancy’ towards George Bush and for refusing to accept that his decisions were wrong.”