The WonkLine: October 14, 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.


The New York Times reports that “thousands of immigrants came to Capitol Hill” yesterday calling for comprehensive immigration reform” as Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) “unveiled” the principles which will guide the bill he plans to introduce. Republican strategist and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie admits that “the Republican Party was harmed with Hispanic voters” and advises the GOP to talk less about stopping illegal immigration and more about its support of legal immigration. The US Supreme Court decided yesterday that criminal lawyers are not obligated to provide immigrant defendants immigration advice, but if they do, it cannot be “misadvice.”


Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration’s “pay czar,” “has advised American International Group to scale back $198 million in bonuses due next March to employees at its troubled Financial Products unit.”


After successfully lobbying the Obama administration to shelve its corporate tax reform plan, multinational corporations are now “urging Senate leaders to sideline a bill by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., that aims to crack down on offshore tax dodgers, arguing that there could be unintended collateral damage.”

The LA Times’ David Lazarus asks “if the feds can come to the assistance of beleaguered banks and homeowners, why can’t they offer a helping hand in the form of lower [interest] rates for students?”

Climate Change

The Environmental Protection Agency “released a long-suppressed report by George W. Bush administration officials who had concluded — based on science — that the government should begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions because global warming posed serious risks to the country.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Act will begin October 27 with testimony by Obama administration officials. Politico reports that “Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, however, also plans to draft legislation dealing with the pollution allowances.”


In reporting on the die-off of “hundreds of thousands of acres” of aspen trees across the West, the Wall Street Journal fails to mention that scientists have conducted research that “links ailing aspen to global climate change.”

Health Care

The White House is suggesting that health insurers have positioned themselves as the enemies of reform. “The insurance industry has decided to lead the charge against health reform, and everyone recognizes their motives: profits,” said White House deputy communications director Dan Pfeiffer. “They made themselves a very good foil,” he said.

The New York Times reports that “insurance companies, unions, medical device makers and others in the health care industry are furiously lobbying lawmakers to shift burdens onto someone else — anyone else — before they find themselves saddled with billions of dollars in taxes under new health care legislation.”

Jonathan Cohn has ten ways we can improve the Senate Finance bill.

National Security

Amid the economic recession the U.S. military announced that for the first time in 35 years they had met all of their annual recruiting goals. The Pentagon said that rising joblessness as well as more aggressive recruiting efforts “led more qualified youths to enlist.” The Wall Street Journal reports that in the wake of growing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and no apparent signs of progress toward a separate Palestinian state, support for U.S. trained, Palestinian security forces has waned dramatically.” The Russian government continues to resist increased sanctions on the Iranian regime. “At the current stage, all forces should be thrown at supporting the negotiating process,” Russia’s foreign minister announced yesterday. “Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive.”