The WonkLine: February 24, 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.



While Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) received former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) endorsement yesterday, the anti-immigrant group, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, endorsed his challenger J.D. Hayworth.

Officials at the Varick Federal Detention Facility, an immigration jail in Greenwich Village which has been ordered shut by the Obama administration, have found that the immigration detainees hardest to relocate are those with serious medical problems.

Politico reports that, despite making up nearly one-sixth of the U.S. population, a new study shows that Latinos are “almost nonexistent in high-level staff positions on Capitol Hill.”


According to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office, the economic stimulus package was responsible for up to 2.1 million jobs in the 4th quarter of last year and added 1.5 to 3.5 percentage points to GDP.

The latest Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data shows that last year U.S. banks posted their “sharpest decline in lending since 1942,” while the number of banks at risk of failing is at a 16 year high.

Stacey Mitchell at the New Rules Project details how big banks “impose much higher costs on their customers than small financial institutions do.” “Not only are fees lower, but several studies have found that smaller banks and credit unions pay higher interest on savings accounts,” Mitchell wrote.

Climate Change

Right-wing bloggers are enraged that “commie” Van Jones is being given an Image Award by the NAACP for his work on green jobs, to be shown on Fox on Friday.

“President Obama’s plan to create jobs and rein in energy costs through a steep increase in money for weatherizing the homes of low-income Americans” has been delayed as states cut employees and delayed implementation due to budget-cut fears, the Department of Energy inspector general said in a report Tuesday.

Speaking at a climate policy forum, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said “we’re on a short track” to a bipartisan climate change bill, contradicting what he called the “conventional wisdom” that the legislation was dead this election year.

National Security

“The Afghan human rights commission reported Wednesday that 28 civilians have been killed so far in NATO’s offensive on the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, and urged pro-government forces to take greater care in distinguishing between civilians and militants.”

“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday urged Russia to wrap up negotiations quickly with the Obama administration over a key nuclear arms reduction treaty that expired in December.”

Iranian Press TV reports that “Iran says it has irrefutable evidence confirming that terrorist ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi had been aided and abetted by the US government before his arrest.”

Health Care

“An idea that seemed toxic only weeks ago — using a parliamentary tactic to ram health reform through the Senate — is gaining acceptance among moderate Democrats who have resisted the strategy but now say GOP opposition may force their hands.”

NPR explains that “health care and reconciliation actually have a lengthy history.” “In fact, the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process.”

No surprise: the Republican strategy for the health care summit.