The WonkLine: February 23, 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.


According to a new report by the New York State comptroller, “Wall Street bonuses were up 17% to over $20 billion in 2009.” Compensation at Goldman Sachs Group, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley rose 31 percent.

A report today from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government will show that “state tax collections shrank at the end of 2009 for a fifth consecutive quarter, the longest period of continuing state revenue declines since at least the Great Depression.”


San Fransisco Federal Reserve president Janet Yellen yesterday “predicted that unemployment, now at 9.7 percent, would fall to 9.25 percent by the end of the year and around 8 percent by the end of 2011. And she described the current inflation rate as ‘undesirably low.’”


Roll Call reports that, “just beneath the surface” of the CPAC convention “lay an unresolved debate about whether conservatives can truly embrace Latino immigrants in their ranks” based in conservatives’ views on immigration reform and immigrants themselves. Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), a Congressional Hispanic Caucus member, told The Hill that he was encouraged immigration was mentioned in the State of the Union, but conceded that the political climate makes it difficult “to argue the needs and benefits of it.” Senate Republicans are reportedly concerned that the jobs bill could fund tax credits for employers to hire undocumented immigrants, though Democrats claim that they were just looking for an “excuse” to oppose the bill.

Climate Change

Germany will host an extra session of U.N. climate talks in April as “emission cuts pledges made by 60 countries will not be enough to keep the average global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius or less,” modeling released today by the United Nations Environmental Programme says.


The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to “take action to reduce black-carbon pollution under the federal Clean Water Act,” due to their role in accelerating the loss of sea ice and glaciers.

“In a display of altruistic masochism that we should all be grateful,” author Howard Friel has checked every single citation in Bjorn Lomborg’s Cool It, revealing the “flimsy nature” of Lomborg’s work.

National Security

“The U.S. military has prepared contingency plans to delay the planned withdrawal of all combat forces in Iraq, citing the prospects for political instability and increased violence as Iraqis hold national elections next month.” “Turkish investigators grilled more than 40 military figures on Tuesday, including the retired heads of navy and air force, after mass arrests over an alleged plot to oust the Islamist-rooted government.” “The civilian chief of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said he doesn’t believe a Dutch decision to withdraw its nearly 2,000 troops from southern Afghanistan this year will lead other European allies to follow suit.”

Health Care

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has signaled that “she could support a health care bill moving through the budget reconciliation process.” “With Landrieu, among the four or five members of the Democratic caucus who were the last to sign on to the health care bill at all, now supporting the sidecar strategy, it seems assured that Senate Democrats will at least give it a shot,” David Dayen notes.

Phil Klein explains why health care reform still faces a tough road in the House.

The Washington Post reports that the decision “to go big one last time, rather than small emerged quickly inside the White House after senior advisers to President Obama concluded privately that his goals for comprehensive changes to the health-care system could not be done piecemeal.”