The WonkLine: January 26, 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.


In Wednesday’s State of the Union, President Obama plans to announce a spending freeze on all non-security discretionary spending. The freeze will save an estimated $250 billion over ten years.

Bloomberg reports that Goldman Sachs “was the most aggressive bank counterparty to American International Group Inc. before its bailout, demanding more collateral while assigning lower values to real estate assets backed by the insurer.”


The Wall Street Journal profiles Pennsylvania’s successful foreclosure prevention program, which is “attracting increasing attention” as federal programs falter.

Health Care

“Senate Democratic leaders said Monday that they don’t expect to have a decision on how to move forward with health care reform in time for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Wednesday.”

“The maneuver, known as budget reconciliation, could allow President Obama and his party to muscle the legislation through Congress with a simple majority vote in the Senate,” and party leaders are now seriously considering this approach.

“Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) said Monday that he would oppose any health care reform bill with a national insurance exchange, which he described as a dealbreaker.”

National Security

“Middle East governments repressed efforts to promote human rights and backed away from bold reforms despite growing human rights challenges and promises to take action, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing the Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen country studies from its World Report 2010.”


“European Union foreign ministers on Monday backed away from threatening Iran with fresh sanctions over its controversial nuclear program.”

VOA reports “Haitian President Rene Preval is calling for 200,000 more tents to house the many people still homeless from the January 12 earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 Haitians and destroyed much of the capital.”


John T. Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced plans for an overhaul of the government’s controversial detention system for people who face deportation.

Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser in President George W. Bush’s administration, said “if for the next five years, the U.S. doubled the 25,000 Haitians who come to the United States, money sent to the country would increase, providing critical help to the nation’s rebuilding effort.”

Harold Ford Jr., who “earned the ire of immigration groups over his support of a Mexico border fence,” is offering advocates “no olive branch” and has indicated he only supports attracting “educated overseas workers.”

Climate Change

The Environmental Protection Agency set a “new one-hour standard for nitrogen dioxide, which contributes to smog and fine particulate pollution” that would only put Chicago is in violation, but the American Petroleum Institute blasted: “EPA is over-regulating this air quality standard for political — not health — reasons.”


“A major increase in maximum ocean wave heights off the Pacific Northwest in recent decades” is “likely due to Earth’s changing climate” and raises “special concerns for flooding, coastal erosion and structural damage.”

“The embarrassing debacle over the projected date of disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers has clouded discussions on the poor state of these ice masses,” including the “glacial retreat at Chota Sigri in Himachal Pradesh, Drang Drung in Zanskar region of Ladakh, and in East Rathong in the eastern Himalaya.”