The WonkLine: December 21, 2009

The Wonk Room is experiencing web server problems this morning. We apologize for the inconvenience.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, where we will be live-tweeting the Senate health care debate.

Health Care

Yesterday, the Senate overcame the first 60-vote hurdle to passing health care reform before Christmas. The House and Senate could begin conferencing the bills at the end of the year and President Obama could sign the final bill before his State of the Union address.

Politico profiles some of the ‘special deals’ in the Senate health care bill. “Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback,” as the GOP is calling it, got all the attention Saturday, but other senators lined up for deals as Majority Leader Harry Reid corralled the last few votes for a health reform package.”


On Sunday, David Axelrod promised “that the Obama administration will push forward on safe re-importation of pharmaceutical drugs after the healthcare reform bill is finished.”

Climate Change

“Monkey species will become ‘increasingly at risk of extinction’ because of global warming,” according to new research — especially Old World monkey populations in Africa whose diets are mainly leaf-based.

“All insect-eating migratory birds who winter in Africa and breed in the Dutch woods have decreased in numbers since 1984” as spring starts earlier and earlier in the year, changing the peak of caterpillar season: nightingales have declined by 37 percent, wood warblers by 73 percent and Ictarine warblers by 85 percent.

If the planet is headed for another mass extinction like the previous five, each of which wiped out more than 75 percent of all species on the planet, then “North American mammals are one-fifth to one-half the way there.”


The Wall Street Journal notes that “the U.S. stock market is wrapping up what is likely to be its worst decade ever,” and that “investors would have been better off investing in pretty much anything else, from bonds to gold or even just stuffing money under a mattress.”


The latest data from the Labor Department shows that “the hiring of temporary workers has surged, suggesting that the nation’s employers might soon take the next step, bringing on permanent workers.”

Treasury may get no more than $179.3 million for Citigroup’s TARP warrants, which is far less than it received from other big banks that received less taxpayer money.


A number of HIV-positive undocumented Jamaican immigrants have gone “underground, fearing — realistically or not — that continuing to receive treatment through the public health-care system could expose their illegal status.”

For many Latino families living in the U.S., traveling to Mexico to visit relatives over the holidays will involve long waits at the Mexican consulate and hours at border crossings contending with new U.S. passport requirements.

The 2009 International Association of Chiefs of Police Civil Rights Certificate of Recognition was awarded to Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane for his efforts to promote and protect human rights as he implemented the County Board of Supervisors’ 2007 controversial directive.