The WonkLine: December 3, 2009

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, and subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, you can now follow The Wonk Room on Twitter, where we will be live-tweeting the Senate health care debate.


Reports released yesterday found that detention numbers have more than doubled since 1999 as a growing number of noncitizens are being needlessly held and repeatedly transferred in a broken detention system. A U.S. Court of Appeal ruled that immigrants found in zero-tolerance zones along the Mexican border can not be tried at mass criminal immigration hearings because they are not read their rights or given an explanation of what a guilty plea means. A study by the Migration Policy Institute shows that undocumented immigrants “do not drain jobs or tax dollars and have a neutral impact on the U.S. economy.”


Yesterday, Bank of America “reached an agreement to repay $45 billion in federal bailout funds and escape pay restrictions and other curbs imposed by the U.S. government,” making it the first of seven companies under the purview of Special Master for Compensation Ken Feinberg to return funds.


The House Financial Services Committee voted 31–27 yesterday “to approve a bill meant to address systemic risks to the economy presented by large, troubled financial firms.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman Sachs “has begun meeting with major investors in an effort to ward off an investor backlash over its record compensation pool.”

Health Care

Democratic Governors are “concerned about what the proposed health care legislation might mean for their already overstrained budgets.”

“Two-thirds of employers would raise deductibles, change insurers or scale back coverage to avoid the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost benefits proposed in the Senate Democrats’ health care bill, a survey to be released Thursday by consulting firm Mercer says.”


According to a new poll, “just under 60 percent of those surveyed said they would like a public option as part of any final healthcare reform legislation.”

Climate Change

The global game of chicken begins, as climate scientist Jim Hansen says he believes the “planet would be better off if the forthcoming Copenhagen climate change talks ended in collapse.”

The San Francisco Bay Guardian explores class issues in the sustainable agriculture movement, noting that organic agriculture often has the same “exploitative working conditions” as traditional agriculture.

“One man was killed and about a dozen injured in a violent protest on Thursday against water cuts in India’s largest city after the worst monsoon in nearly four decades left Mumbai authorities scrambling to ration supplies,” Reuters reports.

National Security

The Wall Street Journal reports “In recent months, Iran has been conducting a campaign of harassing and intimidating members of its diaspora world-wide — not just prominent dissidents — who criticize the regime, according to former Iranian lawmakers and former members of Iran’s elite security force, the Revolutionary Guard, with knowledge of the program. Part of the effort involves tracking the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube activity of Iranians around the world, and identifying them at opposition protests abroad, these people say.”


AP reports “In an electric four-hour solo performance on live television, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he will think about whether to reclaim the presidency — one of the strongest signals yet that he may run again for Russia’s top office in 2012.”

According to ABC News, “Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani says he does not believe Osama bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan.Mr Gilani is in London meeting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to discuss ways to fight extremism in his country. Earlier this week Mr Brown said the Pakistani Government needs to do more to find the fugitive Al Qaeda leader.”