The WonkLine: October 30, 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

“I don’t think you’ll ever have offshore drilling for oil and gas until you marry it up with emissions controls,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters. “They don’t have 60 votes for environmental policy in the House and the Senate because it’s bad for business. All of these bills, I couldn’t support because they’re cap and trade legislation that really does put us at a competitive disadvantage.”

“The nation is using less water now than it did in 1975 and 1980,” according to new data just released by the US Geological Survey (USGS) shows that total water use in the United States dropped “while the nation’s population and economy grew.”

During testimony on his opposition to the Clean Energy Jobs Act, American Farm Bureau chief Bob Stallman contested the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying “Congress should at least hold hearings to consider the scientists and climatologists who disagree with the IPCC data and analysis.”

National Security

Reuters reports that “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled on Friday that the United States will allow talks with Iran over its nuclear programme to play out before considering fresh sanctions against Tehran.”

The Washington Post reports “Russia and the United States are scrambling to address disagreements over a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with a little more than a month left until the existing agreement between the Cold War adversaries expires.”

Reporting from Iraq, Nir Rosen writes “Sectarianism rules, if less explicitly violently than it once did. The new government is among the most corrupt in the world. It is beginning to resemble its Baa’thist predecessor in its authoritarianism and brutality. But it faces no immediate threats, and its strength gives it some form of legitimacy, even among Sunnis. An ugly peace may indeed hold” in Iraq.


The “most extensive direct count” to date finds that the economic stimulus package has created or saved 650,000 jobs. This data “doesn’t include the thousands of jobs created or saved indirectly, through tax cuts, unemployment benefits, Pell Grants and other payments.”

A new Department of Education study finds that “nearly a third of the states lowered their academic proficiency standards in recent years, a step that helps schools stay ahead of sanctions under the No Child Left Behind law.”

According to a new Bloomberg poll, most bank executives “expect their bonuses to match or exceed last year’s, with 1 in 10 predicting their best-ever payout.” A majority of executives “also turn thumbs down on government attempts to limit compensation, with 51 percent saying restrictions will stifle useful innovation.”


More than 100 Democrats in the House of Representatives signed a letter to President Obama urging him to tackle comprehensive immigration reform in early 2010.

Following an almost 15 year battle, the Obama administration has recommended political asylum for Rody Alvarado Peña, “a Guatemalan woman fleeing horrific abuse by her husband, the strongest signal yet that the administration is open to a variety of asylum claims from foreign women facing domestic abuse.”

“Arizona lawmakers are renewing a push to grant local police the ability to detain and question suspected undocumented immigrants.” The legislation would make it a crime to “trespass on the territory of the state” and allow local police to arrest anyone who cannot provide documentation of their citizenship.

Health Care

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in a new Web video posted Thursday, “makes the case for a public health insurance option and appeals to voters across the country to contact Washington to “push hard” for its inclusion in the final bill.”

TPMDC’s Brian Buetler is reporting that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) says “he will vote to bring the bill with a public option and an opt-out to the floor — getting the bill past a key procedural vote — and suggested his colleagues should do the same.”

The Wall Street Journal observes that the “House health-care bill presents more problems for drug makers than legislation in the Senate, but it gives the medical-device industry better breaks.”