The WonkLine: March 4, 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.



“The Obama administration is hinting at a possible recess appointment” for Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, as Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told AFL-CIO officials that “there will soon be positive news on the long-stalled nomination.”

The Federal Reserve yesterday “proposed strict limits on penalty fees and other charges that credit card companies can slap on customers for missteps,” including “capping penalty fees to no more than the dollar amount of the violation.”

Facing South points out that “of the 19 Senators who voted against the package including jobless benefits after the filibuster ended, eight of them come from states that face jobless rates higher than the national average.”


The Obama administration is arguing in court this week that the government has no liability for neglect or abuse by private immigration detention contractors in one case and that government doctors are immune from being personally sued for medical negligence in a separate case.

The Latin American Herald Tribune reports that “the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights will lead a boycott of Walmart to call for the world’s biggest retailer to adopt a favorable position vis-a-vis immigration reform.”

The New York Times Economix blog argues that “old people should love immigrants” because the U.S. “can to some extent ‘build its way out’ of its daunting baby boomer commitments” thanks to its large immigrant population.

Health Care

“President Barack Obama will be more assertive with Congress after disappointing members in his first year with mixed signals during the healthcare debate, Democrats say.”

“Two senior administration officials said the White House is telling Democrats reconsidering their support for health care reform that they will pay the price for their original vote no matter what happens, so they should reap the political benefits of actually passing a law.”

“Senate Democratic centrists aren’t saying “yes” just yet, but when it comes to passing a crucial piece of the health care reform puzzle, party leaders have reason to be optimistic that enough of their most fickle Members will put them over the top.”

Climate Change

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson said yesterday that her agency “will set an emissions threshold of at least 75,000 tons a year” for the initial stage of stationary-source greenhouse-gas regulations, three times the originally proposed threshold.

Appalachian activists are appalled that the U.S. Humane Society has announced that it will give its “2009 Humane Legislator of the Year” to the greatest congressional defender of mountaintop removal — House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV).

The progressive veterans group VoteVets is “making a provocative push” to get comprehensive climate reform passed, launching a new ad that ties oil consumption to Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. troops.