The WonkLine: October 8, 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.

Health Care

Responding to the CBO’s analysis of the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill, Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said the report was quite promising” and “good news.” Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said “we’ll work with the White House and the chairmen of the HELP and Finance Committees to craft a bill that can garner 60 votes.”

Former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Tom Daschle “issued a joint statement today in which they said they supported the Democrats’ attempt to overhaul the health-care system. “The American people have waited decades, and if this moment passes us by, it may be decades more before there is another opportunity,” the two former leaders said in a joint statement.


Yesterday, Dole also admitted that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “asked him not to publicly support health care reform.”

National Security

A new analysis from the Center for Public Integrity found that in the past year, “10 of the 16 members of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations obtained 30 earmarks in the bill worth $103 million for contractors currently or recently employing former staffers who have become lobbyists.”

Yesterday, senior Obama administration officials outlined a shift in their war strategy that would mean “emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States.”

The Pentagon announced that it is “creating a military task force to oversee a planned overhaul of the troubled detention operations” in Afghanistan. The planned overhaul is intended to “combat Al Qaeda’s growing influence and presence in Afghanistan’s prisons.”


Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Alan Grayson (D-FL) are asking the Senate “to delay confirming Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman for a second term,” until Congress is provided with a variety of documents pertaining to the Fed’s activities.


34 banks did not pay their quarterly dividends to the Treasury in August, up from 19 banks that didn’t pay last quarter. The funds are due as part of the government’s investment under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), although Treasury says that it “cannot force an institution to pay.”

Former President Bill Clinton told the World Business Forum yesterday that the Bush administration should have rescued Lehman Brothers last September. “I feel more strongly now it was wrong” to let Lehman fail, he said.


Now that Arizona’s Maricopa County Board of Supervisors ratified an agreement with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last night to allow Sheriff Joe Arpaio to check the immigration status on people booked into jail, the agreement just awaits the signature of ICE head John Morton. A new report from the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute points out that “the biggest obstacle to immigrant assimilation is legal status, or the lack thereof.” Mighel Perez writes that by refusing to halt immigration raids during the 2010 census collection, “the Obama administration clearly has failed to live up to the expectations of many of the Latino voters who sent them to the White House.”

Climate Change

A breakthrough announcement is expected at the UNFCCC climate talks in Bangkok today that “the Norwegian government will commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2020.”


After the Environmental Working Group found that “climate change will cost farmers far more in lower yields and greater expense to protect their crops than the climate bill,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) claimed the organization is “hoping to deceive farmers, ranchers and consumers that U.S. agriculture will not be harmed by the Waxman-Markey and Boxer cap and trade bills.”

“I think the planet is heating up,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters. “I think CO2 emissions are damaging the environment and this dependence on foreign oil is a natural disaster in the making. Let’s do something about it. I’d like to solve a problem, and if it’s on President Obama’s watch, it doesn’t bother me one bit if it makes the country better off.”