The WonkLine: February 4, 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.

National Security

“NATO and the Afghan military are about to launch their biggest joint offensive of the war, and they appear to be making sure the Taliban know they are coming.” “Adding to a growing catalogue of disputes between Washington and Beijing, a senior Chinese official said on Thursday that pressure for tighter sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program could block chances of a diplomatic settlement to the dispute.” “The Taliban bombing that killed three U.S. special forces soldiers in Pakistan on Wednesday could further weaken the government and hurt U.S. efforts to win more backing in the fight against militants. While the presence of U.S. soldiers to train paramilitary forces is hardly a secret, it is a highly sensitive matter in Pakistan, where anti-American anger runs high.”


Federal Reserve Board Governor Kevin Warsh said yesterday that “moral hazard in the financial system is higher than any of us should countenance,” and that “eradicating the too-big-to-fail problem should be the predominant policy goal.”


The Obama administration is “reviving American pressure on China to stop artificially depressing its currency, a policy that fuels its persistent trade gap with the United States,” but China responded by saying “wrongful accusations and pressure will not help solve this issue.”

House Democrats yesterday “ticked off a litany of concerns with President Obama’s $33 billion tax credit proposal to stimulate hiring, arguing the money could be put to greater use rebuilding infrastructure and hiring civil service workers.”

Climate Change

The number of clean-energy jobs in the U.S. “would more than double by 2025 if the nation adopts a plan to get 25% of its electricity from renewable energy sources,” says a report backed by energy firms.

In the “latest scandal about the reporting on climate science in British newspapers,” it has been revealed that the London Times’ Jonathan Leake “deliberately concealed the fact” that the “Amazongate” error in the IPCC “was a missing cite, rather than a factual error.”


Despite an investigation by Penn State University that found that “there is no evidence to substantiate” the “Climategate” character assassination campaign against climatologist Michael Mann, right-wing climate deniers continue to insist that “Michael Mann is as innocent as OJ.”

Health Care

Roll Call reports that “House Democrats say Reid appears to be trying to get Senate Democrats to move forward with a health reconciliation package to accommodate the House, but Members want him to move more quickly.”

“Health insurance giant Aetna is planning to force up to 650,000 clients to drop their coverage next year as it seeks to raise additional revenue to meet profit expectations.”

“Federal employees — but not lawmakers or political appointees — would be exempt from lawmakers’ proposed ‘Cadillac tax’ on high-cost insurance plans under an agreement that Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) secured with the White House last week.”


President Obama’s Kenyan Zeituni Onyango will appear before a U.S. immigration judge in Boston today to fight a 2004 deportation order by seeking asylum in this country.


Rep. Mike Honda (D) and Sonia Manzano write in Roll Call that the “tide seems to be turning in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, despite populist trends that might suggest otherwise.”

Federal agents have targeted more than a dozen local bus companies they say shuttled undocumented immigrants to destinations across the U.S., vowing to continue cracking down on smuggling organizations’ transportation networks.