The WonkLine: January 15, 2010

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. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.




According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, “major U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their people about $145 billion for 2009, a record sum that indicates how compensation is climbing despite fury over Wall Street’s pay culture.”

Treasury Secretary Geithner yesterday “swatted away suggestions that the Obama administration might seek a temporary extension” of all the Bush tax cuts, including for the wealthiest Americans.

According to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute, “unemployment for African Americans is projected to reach a 25-year high this year,” and economic losses “could result in a 50 percent poverty rate for black children.”

Climate Change

A recent study by UC Irvine Professor Francois Primeau shows that “like a dirty filter, the Earth’s oceans are growing less efficient at absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide.” And less CO2 absorbed by the oceans means more CO2 in the air.

Anti-Clean Air Act lobbyists actually “led” a meeting with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and her staffers. The meeting concerned an amendment written to “strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate Carbon Dioxide as a pollutant.”

Scientists are searching for a “natural alternative” to pesticides: “After a ‘detailed’ study, scientists are looking at using tiny parasitic wasps as a natural solution to pesticide to protect crops.”

National Security

“With relief flights snarled at Port-au- Prince airport, international relief agencies struggled Friday to find alternative routes for aid in the face of survivors’ angry criticism that no help was getting through, threatening them with a second catastrophe after Tuesday’s earthquake.”

“The US relief mission in Haiti remains focused on saving lives but American troops could be called on to help keep order if security deteriorates, officials said.

“U.S. government officials and business leaders were supportive but wary of taking sides in Google Inc.’s battle with China, a sign of the delicate tensions between the growing superpower and the West.”


Alejandro Mayorkas, the chief of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), stated that USCIS is “considering all alternatives available to us in extending a helping hand to Haiti” and confirmed that considerations include Temporary Protected Status.

USA Today describes Arizona, a state that has adopted several draconian and controversial measures to combat its high levels of undocumented immigration, as “ground zero” of the immigration debate.

Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York State attorney general, is going after Edward Juarez-Pagliocco — a man who has allegedly made millions of dollars off his phony reputation as an immigration expert.

Health Care

“President Obama was up until shortly before 1 a.m. for a four-hour Cabinet Room meeting with Democratic congressional leaders that wrapped at 1:25 a.m.” The administration will continue to work “through the differences in the health bills” and hopes to send legislation to the Congressional Budget Office on Saturday.

The Washington Post reports that Democrats are trying to finish the bill before the State of the Union and “are growing increasingly concerned that they could lose their 60-vote majority in the Senate on Tuesday, when a little-known Republican will face Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) in a special election in the state for the Senate seat that was held by Edward M. Kennedy.”

“In addition to softening the tax on high-end plans, Democrats plan to increase subsidies for lower earners to buy health insurance.To pay for such changes, Democrats are considering levying an additional $10 billion in fees on medical-device makers, for a total of $30 billion over 10 years.”