The WonkLine: October 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.

Climate Change

“Climate change could endanger the unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, and scientists are trying to figure out how to protect vulnerable species such as blue-footed boobies and Galapagos Penguins.”

“U.S. President Barack Obama came to Denmark to promote Chicago’s Olympic bid,” but Greenpeace activists encouraged him to return in December to push for a treaty to save the world from climate change with a banner reading “Obama: Right city, wrong date.”


Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) broke with his GOP colleagues and said he would work with Sens. Kerry and Boxer on their climate-jobs bill: “Climate change must be addressed in a bipartisan way — it must incentivize the clean-energy technologies we need now and in the future without driving jobs overseas and further damaging our economy.”


Bloomberg reports that “the number of U.S. lenders that can’t collect on at least 20 percent of their loans hit an 18-year high, signaling that more bank failures and losses could slow an economic recovery.”

In a class-action lawsuit, Wells Fargo is “being accused of taking advantage of customers who make math errors on ATM deposits through a little-known policy.” The suit alleges that when Wells’ customers make ATM deposits and mistakenly enter an amount lower than the amount of the cash or checks, the bank “pockets the difference.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress yesterday that “large financial institutions should face a costly combination of higher capital requirements, tougher regulation and higher insurance premiums ‘making it less profitable to be too big to fail’.”

Health Care

The Republicans are framing health care reform as a major tax increase on the middle class. The health legislation “is riddled with tax increases…You can’t do what you want to do without increasing taxes on everybody. But that isn’t what the president said we’re going to do,” Sen. Orrin Hatch said (R-UT) said.


The Hill reports that “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is shifting to the center on a government-run public health insurance plan, warming to a version that is being supported by some Blue Dog Democrats.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) explains his new public option compromise.


Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee defeated a health care amendment proposed by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) that would require legal immigrants to wait five years before accessing federal health benefits.

Two Massachusetts law enforcement agencies — the Framingham police and the Barnstable County sheriff’s department — are no longer enrolled in a controversial program that let them enforce federal immigration laws.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is planning ahead for the possibility of giving legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants.

National Security

Commenting on yesterday’s P-5+1 meeting with Iran in Geneva, Iran analyst Gary Sick writes “The process that has been started is going to be neither short nor serene.”


The New York Times reports that “after fighting peripheral wars against militants for the last several years,” Pakistan’s military “is poised to open a campaign in coming days against the Taliban’s main stronghold in Pakistan’s tribal areas, South Waziristan, according to senior military and security officials.”

The Washington Post reports that “senior White House officials have begun to make the case for a policy shift in Afghanistan that would send few, if any, new combat troops to the country and instead focus on faster military training of Afghan forces, continued assassinations of al-Qaeda leaders and support for the government of neighboring Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban.”