The WonkLine: January 22, 2010

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. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.



National Security

“Alarmed that the disqualification of hundreds of candidates from upcoming parliamentary elections threatens to derail Iraq’s fledgling democracy, the Obama administration is dispatching Vice President Biden in hopes of defusing the looming political crisis.”

“The hunt for survivors of Haiti’s earthquake slowed Thursday, but a humanitarian operation intensified, with relief workers sending food to imperiled orphans and truckloads of water and generators snarling traffic in the capital.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry “lashed out Friday” at Secretary of State Clinton’s speech on Internet censorship, calling on the America to “stop using the so-called Internet freedom question to level baseless accusations.”

Climate Change

“Nearly 150 farm groups yesterday praised Sen. Lisa Murkowski” (R-AK) for her attempts to block U.S. EPA climate regulations by overturning the finding that global warming pollution threatens the health and welfare of Americans.

A meeting of the environment ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India and China on Sunday ahead of the Copenhagen Accord’s January 31 deadline for countries to submit their climate action plans will discuss a climate fund for poorer nations.

This industry is what made this country great,” coal baron Don Blankenship said in a debate with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on mountaintop removal mining. “If we forget that, we’re going to have to learn to speak Chinese.”


The Senate Democratic leadership isn’t sure that there are enough votes to confirm Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke for a second term, and has delayed his confirmation vote until at least next week.

Reuters reports that Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) is scaling back his plan to create one super bank regulator, in favor of consolidating all the national bank regulators while leaving the FDIC untouched.

ProPublica notes that two dozen states have unemployment insurance funds that are in the red, and that nine more will go bust in the next six months.

Health Care

“Trimming back the 2,000-page, trillion-dollar Democratic health care bills to the parts that average folks understand and like may not be as simple as it sounds.”

“Even as congressional Democrats began examining ways to scale back their far-reaching health legislation, a wave of consumer groups, patient advocates and doctors on Thursday called on Democrats not to abandon the comprehensive health overhaul they’ve worked so long to pass.”

Paul Krugman has a message for Democrats: “This is your moment of truth. You can do the right thing and pass the Senate health care bill. Or you can look for an easy way out, make excuses and fail the test of history.”


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Congress Daily that he still believes immigration reform is viable after the U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts.

The Army stopped accepting applications for a program dedicated to recruiting skilled immigrants who live in this country and has left thousands of potential recruits in limbo.

The New York Times reports that “new census figures that provide a snapshot of America’s foreign-born population are challenging conventional views of immigration, race and ethnicity.”