The WonkLine: November 2, 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.


CIT Group filed for bankruptcy yesterday afternoon, making it “the first firm to fail after being bailed out by the government.” The bankruptcy process “almost certainly will wipe out the federal government’s $2.3 billion investment in the company.”

The AP’s latest Economic Stress Index shows that “the economic recovery is proceeding unevenly in its early stages, with areas hurt most by the housing slump still lagging behind other regions.”


According to a new report by the Tax Justice Network, Delaware is the most secretive financial jurisdiction on Earth, surpassing Switzerland. “While the U.S. has been jumping up and down and saying ‘Aha, bad, wicked Swiss banks,’ the U.S. is doing exactly the same things,” said Sarah Lewis, executive director of the UK-based group.

National Security

Nick Baumann looks at recent neocon smears of Trita Parsi and the National Iranian American Council, which charge without evidence that Parsi and NIAC have been working on behalf of the Iranian government.

The London Times reports “Hamid Karzai was handed a second term as President of Afghanistan today when the election run-off was cancelled after his main rival withdrew from the race. Dr Abdullah Abdullah quit yesterday in protest at the Government’s failure to combat election fraud.”

The Washington Post reports that “Palestinian officials criticized the United States for what one called “backpedaling” on demands that Israel stop settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, saying the Obama administration’s change of approach on the issue damaged the likelihood of a peace agreement.”

Climate Change

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) “are set to meet Wednesday with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, as well as with Obama’s top climate adviser, Carol M. Browner, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to discuss a possible compromise” on comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation.


Exxon Mobil spent $7.2 million lobbying Congress this summer, more than the the $6.6 million total of the entire alternative energy sector, and more than every environmental group combined, who spent $6.1 million, according to an E&E; News analysis.

“Nepal’s Cabinet will hold a meeting on Mount Everest” ahead of the international climate change conference next month in Copenhagen, Denmark “to highlight the threat from global warming, which is causing glaciers to melt in the Himalayas.”

Health Care

The top 13 health insurers and their industry association, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), “spent nearly $8.2 million in the third quarter of 2009 to influence Congress on upcoming health care legislation, according to analysis released today by the nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign Action Fund (PCAF).”

Roll Call reports that Senate Republicans are planning to derail the health bill. They “plan to use targeted amendments to attack the legislation issue by issue, offering detailed GOP alternatives in a concerted bid to turn the public against the measure and to try to set the table for electoral gains in 2010.”

POLITICO details the White House’ strategy for passing health care reform. “Obama has worked behind the scenes to move the process along, keep abreast of policy disputes and monitor House and Senate vote count.”


Despite the fact that police have not ruled out the possibility that the bullet which hit Lou Dobbs’ house belonged to a hunter, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now considering tightening his own security. The New York City Bar Association is “calling for all immigrant detainees to be provided with counsel” and are citing the Varick Street Detention Facility as an example of the “fundamental unfairness” of the US immigration detention system. Brad Botwin, the Jewish founder of Help Save Maryland, resents his group being labeled a “nativist extremist group” and says he views the listing as an “anti-Semitic act against me.”