The WonkLine: May 21, 2010

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 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.



The Senate last night passed Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) financial regulatory reform bill by a 59-39 vote, with four Republicans voting in favor and two Democrats voting against. The bill now heads to a conference committee to reconcile the different House and Senate versions.

According to the latest data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., big banks (more than $10 billion in assets) accounted for $15.6 billion, nearly 87 percent, of the banking industry’s $18 billion profit in the first quarter.

“A total of 775 banks, or one-tenth of all U.S. banks, were on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s list of ‘problem institutions in the first quarter,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

National Security

“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton harshly condemned North Korea on Friday for a deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean Navy warship last March, and promised to marshal an international response in the coming week with Japan, China and other countries.”

“Dennis C. Blair will resign Friday as the nation’s intelligence director… Blair, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was pushed out 16 months after he became President Obama’s surprise pick to be the nation’s third director of national intelligence.”

“Germany moved Friday to shore up the euro and stabilize heavily indebted European nations, approving the country’s share of a nearly $1 trillion euro-region bailout.”


The second-grader who asked first lady Michelle Obama if the president would deport her mother said Thursday that she’d like to visit the White House.

Republicans “blasted” Mexican President Felipe Calderon for criticizing Arizona’s immigration law and sale of assault weapons, saying “he should not meddle in internal U.S. politics and does not understand the U.S. Senate.”

Sarah Palin is urging each state bordering Mexico to follow Arizona’s lead on immigration, saying “every other state on the border should emulate what Arizona has done.”

Health Care

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) has “reversed course on a contested plan to raise prices on prescription drugs for seniors in state health care programs.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said that the “doc fix” — preventing a scheduled cut in Medicare reimbursements — “is the number one hurdle in getting the Senate to support legislation extending several tax and spending measures.”

“A new poll, released this morning by the Kaiser Family Foundation, suggests the accelerated implementation schedule [for health care reform] has failed to sway a skeptical public — or even kept health reform’s most ardent supporters on board.”

Climate Change

“I’m very optimistic that the Gulf will fully recover,” BP COO Doug Suttles told the CBS Early Show, while in Louisiana, Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser responded to the thick black oil has now reached his marshes: “It’s our worst fear. As this moves inland, it’ll destroy everything.”

Oceanographer Mitch Roffer says NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco’s depiction of the oil in the Loop Current as a “very light sheen” is “wishful thinking.”

Robert Redford and Tom Friedman called on President Obama to respond to the oil disaster by passing comprehensive climate legislation that ends America’s “failed energy policy.”