The WonkLine: December 18, 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

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “needs a commitment – privately or publicly – from Nelson and other undecided senators by Saturday night, which is the drop-dead time at which the majority leader must begin the procedural steps necessary to finish the bill by Christmas Eve.”

The Los Angeles Times observes that “when Senate Democratic leaders agreed this week to remove a public insurance plan from their massive healthcare bill…They effectively pinned their hopes of guaranteeing coverage to all Americans on a far more conventional prescription: government regulation.”

Did Joe Lieberman actually help health care reform?


A House subcommittee announced yesterday “that it will investigate the Treasury Department’s decision to change a long-standing law so that Citigroup could keep billions of dollars in tax breaks.” Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called Treasury’s decision a “farce” and an “outrage.”

The Wall Street Journal profiles FDIC Chair Sheila Bair and her battle to keep regulatory reform “FDIC-friendly.”

Under The Influence reports that we can expect “a lot more television ads next year from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce aiming to derail the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.”

Climate Change

Yesterday, key concessions from the U.S. and China “jolted climate negotiations” and increased optimism that a “new international agreement on controlling greenhouse gases” might be reached soon.

A draft report of an internal briefing paper drawn up by the UN Framework Committee on Climate Change reports that even the most ambitious emissions targets could “cause a rise in sea levels, droughts, floods and mass extinction of species.” The briefing paper declared that the plan before the conference in Copenhagen “set the world on course for warming of around 5.4F (3C).”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged to raise $100 billion annually to assist developing nations deal with the costs of climate change.


The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is stepping up civil rights enforcement after nearly eight years of decreased hate crime prosecutions and as brought more federal hate crime cases this year than in any other year since 2001.

A Pennsylvania prosecutor who was unable to secure felony convictions against two teens who now face federal hate crime charges in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant says he thought his case was “compromised” from the start.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has put former mayor Lou Barletta, one of Pennsylvania’s best known anti-immigrant politicians, “On the Radar” as part of its Young Guns program as he runs to regain his old seat.

National Security

The Wall Street Journal reports, “the Pakistani man captured during the Mumbai terrorist attacks last year retracted his confession Friday, saying he had been framed and tortured. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab told a special court in Mumbai that he arrived in Mumbai well before the attacks with the aim of starting an acting career.”

NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said yesterday that he saw no need for a new security treaty for Europe proposed by Russia. “We do have a framework already,” he said in Moscow, where he was trying to win Russian help for the war in Afghanistan.

Al Jazeera reports, “at least 34 people have been killed in raids on suspected al-Qaeda hide-outs and training sites in Yemen, security officials have said. At least 30 suspected fighters militants were killed on Thursday in the area of Mahsad in the southern province of Abyan, Saleh el-Shamsy, a provincial security official, said.”