The WonkLine: April 19, 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.


On Univision’s “Al Punto” first lady Michelle Obama stated that “the president needs the support of two parties of Congress to get major [immigration] reform done” and that he remains committed to making that happen.

A group of advocates pushing for immigration reform said that legislation must be introduced by May 1 or lawmakers will face a backlash that will include mass demonstrations, civil disobedience and lack of votes in November.


A local Arizona news stations reports that Mexican Embassy officials “are voicing concerns over what they call the potentially dire effects an immigration bill pending in the Arizona State Senate may have on the civil rights of Mexican nationals.”


With Democrats, emboldened by the recent fraud lawsuit against Goldman Sachs and by the continuing public outcry against Wall Street, “White House officials said Sunday that President Obama would take his campaign for a regulatory overhaul on the road in coming weeks.”

“Toyota has agreed to pay a $16.4 million government fine for waiting at least four months before notifying safety officials about vehicles with a ‘sticky pedal’ defect,” the Washington Post reports.

“[M]ortgage delinquencies fell in March for the second month in a row, according to new data.” The Wall Street Journal reports that loans at least 30 days past due or in foreclosure “fell by a record 342,000 to roughly 1.45 million, a level not seen since spring 2008.”

Health Care

President Obama “has urged advisers to consider moving sooner to set up an Independent Payment Advisory Board for controlling Medicare spending. Some administration officials, however, fear that creating the board much before 2014 could prematurely make it a target for attacks of the “death panel” sort, leaving it politically vulnerable before its powers to impose changes take effect.”


“UnitedHealth Group Inc. plans on Monday to allow graduating college seniors to stay on their parents’ health plans, getting out ahead of a provision of the federal health overhaul package that will go into effect in September.”

“Top White House officials told Democratic Senators yesterday that they’re planning to [turn the attention of a very senior] — but unnamed — communications hand to help defend health care legislation, a source familiar with the briefing said.”

Climate Change

The Climate Desk launches: “Insurers are probably the only people I know who are more worried about climate change than the environmentalists,” Kate Sheppard reports, as Felix Salmon notes that very “few companies are taking steps to adapt to the future effects of climate change.”

After oil companies failed to get signatures to “place an initiative on the November ballot that would delay enforcement of California’s global warming law,” they’ve added nearly $1 million more to complete the ballot initiative drive.

President Barack Obama has “signed into law legislation that extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)” through to May 31, after it lapsed on March 28 due to a Republican filibuster, even as much of the nation suffered from record floods.