The WonkLine: January 25, 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.


“For the first time in American history, a majority of union members are government workers rather than private-sector employees,” according to the latest date from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Over the weekend, President Obama endorsed legislation to create a bipartisan deficit commission, but “it is unclear whether Obama’s endorsement will be enough to rally the 60 votes needed to push a statutory commission through the Senate.

“U.S. securities regulators originally treated the New York Federal Reserve’s bid to keep secret many of the details of the American International Group bailout like a request to protect matters of national security,” according to emails obtained by Reuters.


An increasing number of Mexicans, both at the border and in the U.S., are seeking asylum, though only 13 percent of asylum applications from Mexicans have been approved. The Washington Post reports that the “tension between U.S. policy and the desperation to leave is spawning a debate” about whether the U.S. should let in Haitians with relatives legally in the United States and a few hundred injured children. The Monthly Review features an article condemning “environmentalists” who argue that addressing climate change requires reducing immigration, describing their position as “wrong and dangerous, and should be rejected by the climate emergency movement.”

Health Care

Health insurers “increased lobbying spending by an average of 24 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to an analysis by The Hill of disclosure reports released this week. The list includes insurance giants such as Aetna and Wellpoint along with the industry’s major trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).”


Roll Call: “The health care bill was a race against time — and time won. Many believe the White House played footsie for far too long with Republicans over the Senate health care bill.”

David Plouffe, “who is returning as an advisor to the White House political team on strategy for November’s congressional midterm election, wrote in the Washington Post that Democrats must ‘pass a meaningful health insurance reform package without delay.’”

Climate Change

Brazil, South Africa, India, and China “said they would submit their plans for combating climate change to the UN this week” in line with the Copenhagen Accord.

On Facebook, Sarah Palin says she looks “forward to hopefully hearing President Obama acknowledge America’s need to ramp up domestic energy production, including oil and natural gas developments, during Wednesday’s State of the Union address.”


A team of scientists met at the California Institute of Technology to work on a global-warming “Frankenstorm’’ scenario, but about a dozen members canceled due to the torrential rains that “pelted wildfire-stripped hillsides and flooded highways in California.”

National Security

Doubting the provenance of the latest message from Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Middle East expert Juan Cole writes “I’m going to go out on a limb here and assert two things about the audio.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that several Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank would always remain part of Israel, a comment that upset the Palestinians even as the Obama administration’s Middle East envoy was trying to coax them back into peace talks.” The Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman reports that “Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah) announced Friday that they plan to introduce a bill preventing the Justice Department and the FBI from making unilateral decisions on a foreign terrorist suspect’s interrogation, a move that will limit the Mirandization of those suspects and potential jeopardize their prosecution.”