The WonkLine: April 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.



Climate Change

“The need for activism remains,” forty years after the epochal Earth Day mobilization defined the global environmental movement, helping “galvanize action on a historic scale — including passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency,” but today’s environmentalists wear hard hats.

The United Nations has awarded “President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana, who is a passionate forestry and ecosystem infrastructure proponent, and Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, an international climate change campaigner,” this year’s United Nations Champions of the Earth prize.

A comprehensive assessment of global fossil-fuel subsidies has found that “governments are spending $500 billion annually on policies that undermine energy security and worsen the environment.”


“President Obama denied ‘categorically’ on Wednesday any political involvement or advance knowledge of the federal case against Goldman Sachs,” the New York Times reports.

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 13-8 to approve “sweeping legislation on derivatives Wednesday.” The legislation, which would “require all derivatives to be traded on a clearinghouse,” received the support of all committee Democrats and one Republican, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

The Federal Reserve made record profits last year, in which it transferred “$47.4 billion” to the Treasury Department. The Fed’s profitability “increased as an incidental result of the financial turmoil” that required large-scale intervention in the financial industry.


Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) she is “fine” with the Senate taking up immigration reform before climate change legislation. According to an aide, “The conversation was really about timing, not an either-or kind of thing, but timing.”

Eight law enforcement agencies in Virginia and Maryland have recently joined a sweeping federal program that aims to identify and deport undocumented immigrants who commit serious crimes.

State Rep. Russell Pearce (R-AZ), who wrote Arizona’s controversial immigration bill, lashed out at L.A.’s Cardinal Mahony, calling him a protector of child molesters after he condemned the bill on his blog this week.

Health Care

“Are Republicans really willing to deny our young people their health care coverage just to score a few cheap political points?” Rep. George Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor committee, said in the release.

“The Sacramento Bee reports that on Tuesday, Assembly Speaker John Pérez unveiled a bill that would bring California up to speed on implementing the new health care insurance options passed by the health care reform bill.”

A Suffolk Superior Court judge yesterday ordered two of Massachusetts’ “largest health insurers to submit April 2009 rates for insurance covering individuals and small businesses, the latest development in an ongoing dispute between the state and carriers over premium increases.”

National Security

Nicholas Clegg is “the man of the hour in Britain’s hottest prime minister’s race in decades.” Clegg “is tall and baby-faced, a self-proclaimed atheist who wants the nation to end its “slavish” devotion to Washington and consider trading in the revered British pound for the euro. Almost overnight, he has injected an ingredient into the race that has the British establishment quaking.”

Congressman Gary Ackerman attacks conservatives on Iran and Middle East saying, “And from the policymakers and supporters of the previous Administration, who in decency ought to have slunk off in shamed silence for having watched fecklessly as this disaster—like Iran’s steady march toward nuclear weapons-capability—unfolded under their watch, what do they have to say today?” ‘Appeasement! Appeasement!’… This charge is grotesque.”

European authorities said that air traffic returned to almost normal levels Thursday, a week after an Icelandic volcano eruption forced massive airspace closures.