The WonkLine: November 6, 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.


In response to Congress extending and expanding the unnecessary and expensive homebuyer’s tax credit, the Tax Policy Center snarkily suggests a few “new tax credits.”

A paper by three International Monetary Fund economists shows that “mortgage lenders who lobbied Congress more intensively earlier this decade made riskier loans, were more prominent in communities that ended up with higher delinquency rates and had stock prices that fared worse than others in the industry.”


A bill in Congress that would impose new IRS reporting requirements on foreign financial institutions has drawn the ire of the New Democrats and the banking industry.


Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) met with President Obama yesterday and warned that CHC members are prepared to vote against the Democrats’ health care bill if undocumented immigrants are not allowed to participate in the exchange and buy insurance at full price. 18-year-old Nicholas Hausch pleaded guilty to his role in the hate-motivated murder of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero and agreed to testify in the upcoming trials against his six other friends. Neo-Nazi members are staging a protest against immigration this Saturday and will be marching down Washington Street toward the capital buildings in Phoenix, Arizona.

National Security

The United Nations said it is “temporarily removing more than half of its foreign staff from Afghanistan in response to the killing of five workers at a guesthouse in Kabul last week.”


VOA reports that “an aide to ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya says a deal designed to end the country’s political crisis has failed, after interim leader Roberto Micheletti announced the formation of a new cabinet.”

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, “warned on Thursday that he would not seek re-election, the latest sign that the Obama administration’s drive to broker a Middle East peace accord, one of President Obama’s key foreign policy goals, has fallen into disarray.”

Health Care

House Democratic leaders worked furiously on Thursday to “secure the final votes for weekend approval of a sweeping health care overhaul.” While they don’t have 218 votes yet, Democrats are confident they will pass the measure sometime this weekend.

The Washington Post observes that “the legislation’s prospects got a boost with key endorsements Thursday from AARP, the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society.”

“Hawaii would be allowed to opt out of key requirements of national health care reform legislation, the only state given such a privilege because it already has its own comprehensive health insurance law,” the AP observes.

Climate Change

“It is time to be totally blunt about the agenda of the climate change skeptics in all their colors,” Australia prime minister Kevin Rudd said today. “It is to destroy agreed global action on climate change abroad, and our children’s fate — our grandchildren’s fate — will lie entirely with them. It is time to remove any polite veneer from this debate.”


“The balance” in the Senate on climate action “is among people who, like myself, are people who come from coal states and manufacturing states, who can’t just meet the Copenhagen deadline,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said, calling for further delay.

“More than 23 million people are facing a major food crisis with significant threat to lives and livelihoods” because of drought in Africa, and typhoons have killed over a thousand people in Vietnam and the Philippines.