The WonkLine: January 8, 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 Environmental Protection Agency proposed the nation’s strictest-ever smog limits Thursday, a move that could put large parts of California and other states in violation of federal air quality regulations.”

According to a new study, “mountaintop mining should be banned for causing vast and permanent destruction to US environment and exposing its people to serious health consequences such as birth defects.”


“President Barack Obama plans to announce new funding for clean technology manufacturing jobs Friday, part of a White House turn back to domestic economic issues after two weeks spent focused on terrorism.”


According to the latest data from the Labor Department, the economy lost 85,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate stays unchanged at 10 percent.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission will hear testimony next week from the CEO’s of four of the nation’s largest banks, “as the panel begins a year-long investigation that its chairman described as an effort to figure out ‘what the heck happened.’”

A new study by UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that “low-wage workers in Los Angeles regularly experience violations of basic laws that mandate a minimum wage and overtime pay and are frequently forced to work off the clock or during their breaks.”

National Security

AP reports “Roadside bombs have killed eight Afghan soldiers and a U.S. service member in separate incidents in Afghanistan, officials said Friday.


A senior Yemeni official downplayed his nation’s connection to the Nigerian Islamic militant suspected of trying to bomb a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day, saying the man became an Al Qaeda militant in Britain, even though he met with a radical cleric in Yemen shortly before allegedly undertaking his alleged mission.

A Georgian Airways charter flight that arrived in Moscow on Friday was the first direct flight between the two countries since their brief war in 2008, local media reported.

Health Care

A report from the Center for American Progress predicts that health care reform could “create 250,000 to 400,000 new jobs a year over the next decade.”

“Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, long a popular figure in this state, faced political peril in his re-election bid because he was closely associated with Washington and policies being crafted there, in particular the health-care overhaul, according to polls and interviews with his constituents.”

“Health insurers are girding for a fight over who should regulate the new marketplaces that would sell policies to 30 million Americans under the health-care bills pending in Congress.” They’re also lobbying against the excise tax and new taxes on their industry.


Maricopa County officials have confirmed that a federal grand jury in Arizona is looking into allegations that the office of county Sheriff Joe Arpaio abused power, though Arpaio claims he has “no idea” what’s going on.


Former Iraqi interpreter for the U.S., Ahmed Alrais, was denied a U.S. green card, despite the fact that he worked for the Army through a private contractor when the recession prevented him from fulfilling his residency requirement.

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) is thrilled about the fact that a law he wrote requiring public workers to alert federal authorities when undocumented immigrants apply for benefits has terrified the entire immigrant community.