The WonkLine: June 22, 2009

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, and subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, you can now follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.


In an effort to cut costs, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to immediately deport all undocumented immigrants serving jail time in the state of California as federal immigration authorities cite concerns that a mass release of California inmates could swamp the national immigration system — which is already at capacity.

Following President Obama’s stated commitment to passing comprehensive immigration reform at Friday’s Hispanic Prayer breakfast, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that the administration is making a “serious effort” to win the necessary votes that admittedly aren’t yet there. The Arizona House of Representatives is considering an expansion of the state’s trespassing law that passed the Senate last week and would make Arizona the only state to criminalize the presence of undocumented immigrants.


Conservative Midwest Democrats, including Leonard Boswell (D-IA), Tim Walz (D-MN), and Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) believe “climate change poses a threat to the planet” but are thinking of voting against the Waxman-Markey climate legislation because the farm lobby and coal-fired utilities have warned them about “potential adverse effects on consumers and businesses.”


Scientists have found that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are now 38 percent higher than they have been for the last 2.1 million years, which will lead to long-term 25-meter sea level rise even if CO2 levels go no higher.

“As the Obama administration prepares to announce which nuclear utilities will receive billions in government-backed financing to build the next generation of plants,” the Nuclear Energy Institute “wants $20 billion more in loan guarantees in addition to the $18.5 billion in financing currently available.”

National Security

The Washington Post reports that Iranian officials may be using the recent increase in violence to question the legality of the actions of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, which “could be the government’s way of preparing the ground for his arrest.”

North Korea declared itself a “proud nuclear power” and warned it will strike if provoked, as the US implements “new U.N. Security Council sanctions designed to punish the North for its defiant underground nuclear test last month.”


A UN court has sentenced former Rwandan interior minister Callixte Kalimanzira, who was accused of “tricking thousands of people to hide on a hill before they were killed,” to 30 years in jail for genocide and complicity to commit genocide.


McClatchy reports that “reverse mortgages, under the radar for most of their 20-year existence, are getting new attention from cash-strapped consumers who want them and wary regulators who worry about the possible fallout.”

While the Obama administration has made charter schools a big part of its education plans, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will warn advocates of the schools today “that low-quality institutions are giving their movement a black eye.”

Stan Collender at Capital Gains and Games writes that President Obama is already paying enough attention to the deficit: “Anyone want to bet that there will be a cover story somewhere next year calling Obama the deficit killer?”

Health Care

“Emboldened by polls that show public backing for a government health insurance plan, Democrats are moving to make it a politically defining issue in the debate over the future of medical care.”


Ezra Klein explains why the CBO’s estimate of the House health care bill is so important: “In particular, that will give us a concrete estimate of how much money a strong public plan can, or cannot, save. It will give us a concrete estimate of how much a strong insurance exchange does, or does not, save. It will, in other words, clarify the tradeoffs between various choices considerably.”

The Washington Post’s Ceci Connolly calls the White House’s strategy for building consensus around health care reform, “the Goldilocks Strategy. Cut too deep, and the industry will rise up to thwart the hopes of yet another president eager to remake health care. Don’t cut enough, and he won’t have the money to pay for it.”