The WonkLine: March 10, 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.



House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) said that he wants conference committee negotiations on financial regulatory reform to be televised. “Remember this, ‘Let’s do it all on C-Span?'” Frank said. “Clear your calendar.”

Today, Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Carl Levin (D-MI) plan to propose “placing new limits on proprietary trading by banks and nonbank financial firms, widening the ‘Volcker rule’ backed by the White House.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Wall Street firms have received fees exceeding $1 billion in less than a year selling ‘Build America Bonds’ meant to spur jobs in struggling cities, often charging municipalities higher costs than for traditional bond deals.”

National Security

“The arrest of a suburban Pennsylvania woman known by the alias Jihad Jane, who allegedly plotted with Islamic radicals abroad to kill a Swedish cartoonist, has raised concerns about homegrown terrorists in the United States who may be difficult to spot.”

VOA reports that “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Afghanistan for talks with Afghan leaders on developing relations between the two neighbors.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that “suspected militants armed with grenades attacked the offices of a U.S.-based Christian aid group helping earthquake survivors in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing six employees and wounding several others.”

Health Care

Last night, President Barack Obama announced “a plan to crack down on fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid ahead of his remarks on health reform in St. Charles, Missouri” this afternoon.

“Democrats came out of a meeting in Speaker Pelosi’s office tonight still committed to passing reform by the Easter recess adding that they could get preliminary CBO scores by Wednesday.”

“The White House and Democratic Congressional leaders said Tuesday that they were bracing for a key procedural ruling that could complicate their effort to approve major health care legislation, by requiring President Obama to sign the bill into law before Congress could revise it through an expedited budget process.”


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he favors first passing smaller immigration measures before a comprehensive approach and cited “Obama’s lack of direction on immigration reform” as the reason a bill hasn’t been introduced yet.

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro affirmed that “the president’s commitment to fixing our broken immigration system remains unwavering,” as Obama gears up for a meeting tomorrow with the two senators who are working on crafting an immigration reform bill.

The Wall Street Journal cites “palpable, grassroots anger” on behalf of immigration and Latino groups as one reason why comprehensive immigration reform may go from being a “sleeper issue” to “moving toward the limelight.”

Climate Change

“Weather possibly linked to climate change, as well as construction on less stable ground, have provoked unprecedented foundation failures in houses nationwide,” costing $4 billion a year, as “there has been an accelerating trend nationwide toward more extended dry periods followed by downpours.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), while opposing action on climate change, has added a “$1.5 billion disaster aid package for the 2009 crop year” to help “Mississippi Delta cotton and soybean growers hurt by last fall’s heavy rains.”

E&E News reports that representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, Edison Electric Institute, Nuclear Energy Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, Farm Bureau, American Forest and Paper Association, American Railroads, National Electric Manufacturers Association and Portland Cement Association met yesterday afternoon with Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham to discuss comprehensive climate legislation.