The WonkLine: March 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.


National Security

“The United States and Pakistan are pledging to boost and broaden relations to overcome mutual mistrust and suspicion that have arisen in recent years over Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism.”

“US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during a high-level meeting in Mexico Tuesday, spoke of a new strategy under the Merida Initiative….which includes a more targeted focus on community-building.”

“The Obama administration shifted this week from red hot anger at Benjamin Netanyahu to an icier suspicion toward the Israeli Prime Minister, who made clear in a marathon of meetings with U.S. officials that he would give ground only grudgingly on their goal of stopping the continued construction of new Israeli housing units on disputed territory.”


Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Schumers (D-NY) said yesterday that they would push for a vote “on their bill to levy sanctions on China unless they allow their currency to appreciate.” Such appreciation is supported by China’s business community.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said yesterday that “he expects President Obama to use a recess appointment to place Craig Becker on the National Labor Relations Board.”

The Treasury Department’s special master for compensation yesterday “announced further pay cuts for top executives at five U.S. firms still receiving substantial help from the federal government.”

Health Care

More Americans now favor than oppose the health care overhaul that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds — a notable turnaround from surveys before the vote that showed a plurality against the legislation.”

“The Justice Department is preparing to defend the health care reform legislation signed by President Barack Obama today against a flurry of lawsuits challenging its constitutionality, department officials said. In fact, according to a DOJ spokeswoman, government lawyers were gearing up for the legal battle even before the bill became law.”

David Leonhardt explains how the health care bill is an “attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.”


Homeland Security Department’s inspector General Frank Deffer reportedly stated that the government is not equipped to process the flood of applications from a proposed immigration legalization bill and won’t be for “a few years.”

Witnesses testified that the teenager accused of murder in the alleged hate crime stabbing of a Ecuadorean immigrant, Marcelo Lucero, had tattoos depicting a swastika and a symbol he said represented “white power.”

A new report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, for the first time since 2003, foreign-born workers were more likely to be unemployed then their counterparts who were born in the U.S.

Climate Change

Ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet, which has been increasing during the past decade over its southern region, “is now moving up its northwest coast,” according to a new international study.

Grist interviews Severine von Tscharner Fleming, the director of the forthcoming film The Greenhorns and the “founder of the crucial new young farmer organization of the same name.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “will meet with Senate committee chairs on Wednesday to decide how to move energy and climate change legislation this spring,” a draft of which “will be released after Congress returns from the upcoming two-week spring recess,” as Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, and Thomas Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, told reporters that “language that pre-empts EPA and state regulation of greenhouse gas emissions” is essential for their support.