The WonkLine: March 29, 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.


Climate Change

“A convoy of 60 kayaks, rafts and boats” from Rising Tide Australia formed a blockade at Newcastle Harbour and blocked Newcastle’s new coal loader to protest the expansion of the world’s largest coal export port.

The Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate legislation will be introduced the week of Earth Day , but Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune warns, “There are things that would cause the Club to oppose the bill,” including offshore oil drilling and pre-emption of Clean Air Act authority.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) explored flood damage in Massachusetts, Gov. Jodi Rell (R-CT) prepared for a flooding emergency in Connecticut, and up to “100,000 people reportedly have fleed or lost their homes in the flood stricken regency of Karawang, West Java.”


Over the weekend, President Obama made 15 recess appointments, including naming former AFL-CIO and SEIU lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. Conservatives in Congress and business groups have been staunchly opposed to Becker’s nomination.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has “backed away from its support for a $1.4 billion tax break benefiting J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., setting up a battle between the regulator and the nation’s second-largest bank.”

The U.S. is set to make an $8 billion profit by selling its stake in Citigroup. Dean Baker, however, writes that this doesn’t reflect the true extent of the government’s rescue of the failed financial behemoth.

Health Care

“Just days after President Obama signed the new health care law, insurance companies are already arguing that, at least for now, they do not have to provide one of the benefits that the president calls a centerpiece of the law: coverage for certain children with pre-existing conditions.”

“Around the country this weekend, members of Congress found a bewildering crosscurrent of political forces awaiting them, on-the-ground evidence of how the issue has divided the country by party, race and region.”

“White House senior adviser and business liaison Valerie Jarrett said Sunday that the more than $2 billion in writedowns announced by companies anticipating higher benefits costs ‘is nothing compared to the enormous financial benefits to those very same companies by health insurance reform.'”


U.S. immigration authorities have set controversial new deportation quotas which differ from pledges by ICE chief John T. Morton and his boss, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, to focus enforcement on the most dangerous undocumented immigrants.

On Meet the Press, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he would continue to work with Democrats on immigration, but indicated that it’s up to the White House to do the “heavy lifting.”

Following the stabbing of an Ecuadorian immigrant, immigrant residents of Patchogue, NY indicate that the local Suffolk Police Department has “made a visible and seemingly committed effort to reach them.”