The WonkLine: August 27, 2010

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 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.



Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is “struggling with festering internal divisions between political appointees and career officials over how to enforce laws and handle detainees facing deportation.”

John Morton, head of ICE, has instructed the agency’s legal office to stop the deportation proceedings of foreign nationals who may now be eligible for a green card.

Gov. Jan Brewer’s (R-AZ) lawyers have filed the first brief in their appeal of a ruling that blocked the most controversial elements of Arizona’s new immigration law.

Health Care

“A contentious all-day hearing Wednesday left many Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico customers they see little hope for relief from a controversial 21.3 percent increase in their health insurance premiums.”

“Almost all U.S. hospitals couldn’t meet the federal government’s meaningful-use standards.”

Two of the Richmond area’s three abortion clinics do not meet the standards for an outpatient surgery center and would be at risk of closing if stiffer regulations authorized by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are enacted, say critics of the proposed rules.”

National Security

“Former President Carter on Friday left the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, after negotiating the release of an American who had been imprisoned since January for illegally entering the secretive country.”

“Even as Pakistani and international relief officials scrambled to save people and property, they despaired that the nation’s worst natural calamity had ruined just about every physical strand that knit this country together — roads, bridges, schools, health clinics, electricity and communications.”

“President Felipe Calderon proposed sweeping new measures Thursday to crack down on the cash smuggling and money laundering that allow Mexican cartels to use billions in U.S. drug profits to enrich their criminal organizations.”


“More than a quarter of the $20 billion in Housing and Urban Development relief funds that were earmarked for Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina remains unspent five years after the storm,” while post-Katrina government programs “often offered the most help to the most affluent residents.”

Treasury’s program to purge banks of their toxic assets has generated an “estimated return of about 15.5 percent for taxpayers,” which “translates into a paper profit of roughly $657 million.”

The growing U.S. trade deficit “has become a substantial drag on economic growth as the country’s exports struggle to keep pace with the swelling sums that Americans are again spending on imported goods.”