The WonkLine: July 22, 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.




A new report by the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law reveals “a widespread pattern of misconduct by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement” who allegedly violated their own agency rules as well as the Constitution.

In an interview with Katie Couric, President Obama stated that undocumented immigrants should not be covered by any new health care plan, though ideally, he’d like to deal with immigration separately and create a situation in which there are no longer undocumented immigrants.

The Pew Hispanic Center has released a study indicating that while most Mexican immigrants are weathering the economic downturn in the US, high unemployment rates have led to the lowest level of Mexican immigration in a decade.


According to a new poll from the National Small Business Association, nearly four in 10 small-business owners “in the past few weeks said they are not able to get the financing they need to run their firm.”

McClatchy reports that Bank of America, the recipient of $45 billion in TARP money, has lobbied lawmakers “on more than two dozen pieces of legislation in both the House and Senate” in the first half of 2009.

House Transportation committee chairman David Oberstar (D-MN) “said he will ask the Ways and Means Committee on Thursday to approve a $3 billion transfer that would keep the Highway Trust Fund limping along for a few more weeks. Oberstar “doesn’t want a longer-term trust fund fix to interfere with his plan to pass a six-year, $500 billion surface transportation reauthorization this fall.”

National Security

Daniel Levy and David Frum debate the question of whether “Barack Obama’s America is now an honest broker between Israel and the Arabs.”

Tehran Bureau lists a number of prominent Ayatollahs and where they stand in regard to the recent protests in Iran.

Danger Room’s David Axe dances on the F-22’s grave.

Health Care

The Blue Dogs said they won agreement from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) “to help rein in Medicare spending by giving the executive branch new power to set annual payment rates for doctors, hospitals and other health care providers, based on recommendations from an independent advisory council.”

The Washington Post explains how the “health insurance industry spins data in fight against public plan.”

Ezra Klein on “why progressives should learn to love cost-sharing in health care.”

Climate Change

A new study from University of California Davis researchers finds that California may be “no longer suitable for growing many fruit and nut crops” because of expected dramatic decreases in “winter chilling hours, essential to the flowering of orchards” in the state that produces “half of the nation’s domestic fruits, nuts and vegetables.”

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned that the inclusion of “carbon tariffs” in the climate change bill passed by the House of Representatives “could undermine U.S. efforts to persuade developing countries to enter into a new global warming treaty.”

A University of Colorado study found that the Colorado river system’s reservoir system could be fully depleted by mid-century because of climate change, currently 30 million people depend upon the river system for drinking and irrigation water.