The WonkLine: June 24, 2009

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High school students staged a “mock graduation” yesterday in Washington in support of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act and to “highlight the plight of about 65,000 undocumented people who graduate from U.S. high schools every year but often find that their legal status prevents them from attending college.”

Speaking at the National Sheriffs Association conference, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano promised to “enforce the nation’s immigration laws,” pledging a greater focus on employers.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says that he has the votes to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but claimed that finding space in the Senate’s already crowded schedule will be a problem. “What is impeding comprehensive immigration reform is any floor time to do it…I think we have the floor votes to do it,” he said.


Agriculture committee chairs Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) announced “an agreement finally” on the Waxman-Markey bill, granting Peterson his demands to “put the Department of Agriculture, rather than the EPA, in charge of” carbon offsets and to block the EPA from measuring ” the greenhouse gas emissions that might indirectly result if more farmland is used for growing biofuel stock.”

A diverse group of 20 corporations, including Applied Materials, Starbucks and the utility FPL Group, launched a campaign” in favor of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill, but Friends of the Earth unveiled an ad that said: “The House Climate Bill. Brought to you by Duke Energy. We can do better. We must.”

A heat wave across the central U.S. that killed two in Kansas City and one in Alabama continues to grip Tennessee, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Florida, and Illinois.


According to a House committee report released yesterday, “capital works projects funded by the U.S. economic stimulus plan created or saved more than 21,000 jobs by the end of May…showing that the pace of stimulus job creation has quickened.”

The Washington Post reports that about 1 million American homeowners are badly behind on their mortgage payments, but have not yet been foreclosed upon, which “masks the full extent of the foreclosure crisis.”

Thomas Frank writes that it’s time to correct “the amazing indifference” of financial regulators: “The people who filled regulatory jobs in the past administration were asleep at the switch because they were supposed to be. It was as though they had been hired for their extraordinary powers of drowsiness.”

National Security

The New York Times reports that President Obama will send an ambassador to Syria after a four year absence, in what, officials say, is an attempt by the administration to normalize relations. The State Department informed Syria’s ambassador to the United States of the decision on Tuesday.

Iran announced on Tuesday that, despite protests and an investigation into election fraud, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be sworn in for a second term between July 26 and August 19.

U.S. drones patrol Pakistan’s South Waziristan today, as the Pakistani army prepares an all-out assault on al Qaeda ally Baitullah Mehsud. Yesterday, a U.S. drone bombed a strong hold of Meshud’s, killing 70 militants.

Health Care

The Plum Line asks, “Did Rahm Emanuel privately signal to Democratic Senators that the White House is prepared to drop the public insurance option from health care reform in order to get a bill passed?”

A new Washington Post – ABC News poll finds that “most respondents are ‘very concerned’ that health-care reform would lead to higher costs, lower quality, fewer choices, a bigger deficit, diminished insurance coverage and more government bureaucracy.”

The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus asks, “Is this health-care deja vu all over again, the Clinton disaster of 1993-94 revisited?