The WonkLine: February 19, 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.



Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters that, in regard to immigration reform, “we’ve [Democrats] done our job. We’re just waiting for a little help from the Republicans.”

The Associated Press reports that when State Department officials will sit down with Cuban leaders for immigration talks that will take place “under a cloud of mutual mistrust and dashed hopes.”

A new public-opinion research experiment by MIT political scientist Jens Hainmueller and his Harvard colleague Michael Hiscox revealed that Americans “collectively tend to prefer immigrant workers with refined job skills instead of those lacking good training.”


TaxVox writes that President Obama’s proposed hiring tax credit is superior to that in the Senate jobs bill: “If Congress insists on plowing ahead, it may as well do so in the most effective way possible. And that is the Obama version.”

The Federal Reserve yesterday “took another step toward winding down its expansive efforts to prop up the financial system, raising the interest rate that banks must pay to take out emergency loans.”

“A mortgage crisis like the one that has devastated homeowners is enveloping the nation’s office and retail buildings, and few places are likely to be hit as hard as Washington,” the Washington Post reports.

Health Care

18 Senators have now signed on to the public option letter of support sent to Senate leadership. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has not signed onto the letter because he is a member of the leadership. “That would be like sending a letter to himself,” said an aid.

Avalere Health found Medicare Advantage enrollees will see a 14 percent increase in premiums in 2010. This equates to an increase of $39.61 a month.

Appearing on Rachel Maddow’s show last night, Kathleen Sebelius indicated administration support for passing the public option through reconciliation, “[i]f it’s part of the decision of the Senate leadership to move forward, absolutely.”

National Security

“Two senior Taliban leaders have been arrested in recent days inside Pakistan, officials said Thursday, as American and Pakistani intelligence agents continued to press their offensive against the group’s leadership.”

“United Nations’ nuclear inspectors declared for the first time on Thursday that they had extensive evidence of ‘past or current undisclosed activities’ by Iran’s military to develop a nuclear warhead.”

In a speech at the National Defense University, Vice President Biden “called on the US Senate Thursday to ratify an international treaty banning nuclear testing to strengthen a ‘fraying’ international consensus against the spread of nuclear weapons.”

Climate Change

Media critics Tom Yulsman and Curtis Brainard complain that the US media isn’t “investigating” the IPCC like the UK press, but scientist Gavin Schmidt explains that’s because “nothing has changed the self-evident ridiculousness” of the global warming hoaxers, and scientist Tim Lambert notes the UK press is fabricating the attacks.

Several Midwestern states could be facing increased winter and spring flooding, as well as difficult growing conditions on farms,” if global warming continues, according to a new scientific report.

As nonviolent protestors occupy the corporate office of Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal operation in Coal River Valley, West Virginia, hundreds of thousands of Americans are calling on JP Morgan Chase to end their financing of the catastrophic mining practice.