The WonkLine: January 28, 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.


Last night, during his State of the Union address, President Obama announced “we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system” and “ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.”

The government plans to expand a controversial program, Secure Communities, which allows local jails check arrestees’ fingerprints against biometrics-based immigration records held by DHS and criminal records held by the FBI. The Los Angeles Times reports that “the [anti-Latino] emotions unleashed” by a 2006 immigration raid in Grand Island, Nebraska “would soon find a new target — Sudanese and Somalis attracted by the promise of work at the meatpacking plant.”


“President Barack Obama touted education among his top priorities in his first State of the Union address, proposing a $10,000 higher-education tax credit for families and debt forgiveness for people who have been repaying their college loans for at least 20 years.”


House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) told the Financial Times that President Obama’s proposals to rein in Wall Street “could be enacted into law within six months.”

The watchdog group Texans for Public Justice “issued a scathing analysis Wednesday of Gov. Rick Perry’s much-ballyhooed jobs program, saying the governor exaggerated its success and noting that a third of the 54,000 jobs he said have been created since 2003 are actually unfulfilled employment pledges.”

National Security

Secretary Clinton is attending an international conference on Afghanistan in London today, where 70 nations plan “to dwell on efforts to lure moderate Afghan fighters away from the Taliban with offers of jobs and housing to and hasten the handover of security responsibilities from foreign to Afghan forces.” There are signs of a revival in Port-au-Prince, “as Haitians restarted factory assembly lines, visited their barbers, sought replacement cellphones and even picked up their dry cleaning.” “Yemen pledged Wednesday to implement broad political and economic reforms in exchange for a package of long-term development and security assistance from countries concerned that it could become a permanent base for international terrorist operations.”

Health Care

“There is no way to save health care reform until everyone realizes there is no way to save health care reform,” write Sheri and Allan Rivlin. “Then it’s easy.”


The Conference of Catholic Bishops urges the President and Congress to pass the reform bill. They decry the status quo as a “moral and policy failure that leaves tens of millions of our brothers and sisters without access to health care.”

The New York Times discusses reform’s prospects in light of Speaker Pelosi’s suggestion “that the Senate would have to take the next step and make substantial changes to its bill before the House would act again.”

Climate Change

Climate change caused by mankind “will release extra heat-trapping gases stored in nature into the atmosphere in a small spur to global warming,” but this feedback “on top of industrial emissions building up in the atmosphere will be less severe than suggested by some recent studies.”

A new report finds “significant potential for job creation and revenue growth in the Midwest over the next five years from the manufacture of three low-carbon technologies,” including 100,000 new jobs and additional market revenues of up to $12 billion.

Australia faces “a possible 300 percent increase in extreme bushfires by 2050 unless world leaders can agree to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions,” a new report said today.