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The WonkLine: April 2, 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

The Obama administration “effectively called time today on one of the most destructive industries in America, proposing new environmental guidelines for mountaintop mining removal,” and also finalized new “fuel efficiency and emissions rules for America’s passenger vehicles,” its “first formal step to regulate global warming pollution.”

President Obama visited the Massachusetts’s flood-fighting headquarters yesterday, thanking workers for their round-the-clock efforts.

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California remains in a drought despite extreme storms that “ has caused the worst damage and most significant beach erosion in at least a decade,” and China’s drought is “beginning to erode power production capacity.”

Health Care

“The health-care debate has generated intense levels of frustration among the bill’s opponents, and those who say they are outright angry almost universally believe that the country is going in the wrong direction — some say toward an America they no longer recognize.”

“As insurers wrestle with the changes coming from the federal health overhaul in Washington, they also face challenges at the state level from regulators seeking to head off big premium hikes.”

“Making good on Governor Deval Patrick’s promise to reject health insurance rate increases deemed excessive, the state Division of Insurance yesterday denied 235 of 274 increases proposed by insurers for plans covering individuals and small businesses.”

Immigration

More than three dozen Haitians who have been prisoners of the U.S. broken immigration system for the past two months, since they were waved onto planes by Marines in the chaotic aftermath of the earthquake, were released yesterday. U.S. immigration authorities are approving an increasing number of asylum petitions from Mexican citizens who fear for their lives as the country’s drug violence escalates. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) warned that immigration reform will be part of the “political equation” for Democrats as they work to maintain the support of Latino voters.

Economy

The U.S. economy created 162,000 jobs in March, the largest increase in payrolls in three years. The unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent.

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The hedge fund lobby spent more than $1 million in the last quarter of 2009, double what it spent in the same quarter of 2008. Altogether, the industry spent more than $3.7 million lobbying last year.

State and local tax revenues “rose above year-ago levels in the fourth quarter for the first time in more than a year,” suggesting that “tax revenue is no longer in the freefall that followed the aftermath of the recession.”