The WonkLine: August 7, 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.




Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the lawmaker spearheading immigration reform in the Senate, has found a key Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), to help build a bipartisan coalition to push immigration reform through the Senate later this year.

The New York Times praises the Obama Administration for taking “the first steps in a long journey away from insanity” after the government announced plans to reform immigration detention.

The city of Houston is lobbying the federal government to change jail screening procedures and allow “jailers to target only suspected illegal immigrants with serious criminal records for deportation.”


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 9.4 percent in July and “businesses cut a much-less-severe 247,000 jobs from their payrolls.”

Last night, the Senate voted 60-37 to approve a $2 billion extension of the “cash for clunkers” program. The money will be transferred from other areas of the economic stimulus package.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Credit Suisse Group’s novel plan to pay bankers with a brew of its own toxic bonds and corporate loans has gotten off to an unexpectedly strong start, which could put further political pressure on other Wall Street firms to change how they pay their employees.”

National Security

On the second leg of her seven-nation African tour, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is seeking today to “start over with South Africa” after a period of frigid relations during the Bush Administration in which the U.S. “had little access and even less influence.”

The leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed Wednesday by a CIA missile strike, according to the Taliban. The U.S. had “made killing or capturing Mr. Mehsud one of its top priorities this year.”

With the Islamist anti-government forces in Somalia “at their weakest, and perhaps also at their most dangerous, point in years,” Secretary of State Clinton met yesterday with Somali President Sharif Ahmed in Nairobi, Kenya, calling Ahmed’s government “the best hope we’ve had in quite some time for a return to stability.

Climate Change

The federal government must take decisive action to avoid “a potentially catastrophic loss of animal and plant life” in national parks, according to a new report that details the effects of global warming on the nation’s most treasured public lands.

We are changing the destiny of the earth” by warming the planet, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu warned yesterday, saying a “new industrial revolution” is needed “using energy in a more intelligent way,” starting with the American Clean Energy and Security Act’s “cap on carbon.”

Ten Senate Democrats, led by Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) “urged the Obama administration on Thursday to support levying tariffs on goods from countries that don’t limit their greenhouse-gas emissions” in the green economy bill the Senate is considering.

Health Care

Media Matters reports that in a new interview with Newsmax, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) “called Democratic proposals to pay for health insurance reform by taxing the richest one percent of Americans ‘idiotic.'”

On Thursday, Congressional Democrats said they intended to “push the Obama administration to back away from its deal with the drug industry to cap its share of the costs in a health care overhaul.”

Governors are claiming they can’t afford to finance Medicaid expansion.