The WonkLine: March 15, 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.

Climate Change

As a powerful storm that killed eight people and knocked out power for hundreds of thousands continues to drench the Northeast, Tomas, a Category Four cyclone, is ripping through Fiji, and Tropical Storm 90Q, the “second known tropical cyclone to form in the cooler South Atlantic Ocean,” is circling off the Argentina coast.

The $379 billion cost of “developing Canada’s controversial tar sands between now and 2025 could be used to decarbonize the western economy,” according to a new report from the Co-operative and WWF.


Rep Charlie Dent (R-PA) “secured a $750,000 earmark for a company that has given him $14,250 this election cycle” and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) “won a $300,000 earmark for a company that has contributed $3,000 to his re-election campaign.”

National Security

“Israel and the United States are in a ‘crisis of historic proportions’ over a settlement dispute that has brought relations to a 35-year low, Israel’s ambassador to Washington was quoted on Monday as saying.” The New York Times reports: “Under the cover of a benign government information-gathering program, a Defense Department official set up a network of private contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help track and kill suspected militants, according to military officials and businessmen in Afghanistan and the United States.” “President Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia moved closer to agreement Saturday on a long-stalled arms control treaty that would slash the active nuclear arsenals of both countries by more than one-quarter, officials from both countries said.”


President Obama’s proposed overhaul of No Child Left Behind will go to Congress today, “kicking off what is sure to be months of debate among labor unions, education groups and lawmakers over how to recalibrate” the nation’s education policy.


Paul Krugman writes that the U.S. needs to challenge China on its currency manipulation: “Chinese currency policy is adding materially to the world’s economic problems at a time when those problems are already very severe. It’s time to take a stand.”

James Kwak wonders if regulators are actively trying to make Bank of America smaller.


The Washington Post reports that despite last week’s meetings on immigration reform, President Obama will focus on two issues the next few months that are popular among Democrats: financial reform and mitigating the Supreme Court corporate spending ruling. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) accused President Obama of paying lip service to immigration reform, stating, “this idea that this administration has been unwavering on immigration reform is just political spin.” Texas religious leaders reached out to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to reassure him that if he comes out in support of immigration reform, they will “have his back.”

Health Care

“The fate of President Barack Obama’s year-long push for a health-care overhaul comes down to the House, with a vote as soon as Friday.”


“Democratic leaders scrambled Sunday to pull together enough support in the House for a make-or-break decision on health-care reform later this week, expressing optimism that a package will soon be signed into law by President Obama despite a lack of firm votes for passage.”

“The yearlong legislative fight over health care is drawing to a frenzied close as a multimillion-dollar wave of advertising that rivals the ferocity of a presidential campaign takes aim at about 40 House Democrats whose votes will help determine the fate of President Obama’s top domestic priority.”