The WonkLine: March 30, 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.

National Security

The New York Times reports on the sometimes strained relationship between the White House and Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the administration’s central dilemma in Afganistan: “How to influence the actions of an ally who they increasingly regard as unreliable, without undermining America’s ultimate goals.” “Nine members of a Michigan-based anti-government militia which proudly posted its military exercises on the Internet and allegedly plotted to kill police officers were indicted in Detroit Monday on conspiracy and weapons charges.” Foreign ministers of the Group of Eight industrial nations drafted a message that calls on the international community to take “appropriate and strong steps” to force Iran to comply with the U.N. Security Council’s demands.


A new study by public interest law center, Texas Appleseed, chronicles how “mental incompetence is routinely ignored by immigration judges and deportation officers, who are under pressure to handle rising caseloads and meet government quotas.” The U.S. government has stopped deporting people with criminal records through the El Paso and Juárez bridges, reasoning that leaving felons in the violence-plagued city of Juárez has led to more crime. Despite the fact that detectives have no information on the person who shot an Arizona rancher, conservative media and politicians are using the murder to demand increased border security and the deployment of the National Guard.

Health Care

“After battling President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul the better part of a year, the insurance industry said Monday it won’t try to block his efforts to fix a potentially embarrassing glitch in the new law.”


“The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) became the first medical society to sue to overturn the newly enacted health care bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).”

“Ohio’s attorney general says he won’t join other states in a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s sweeping new health care law.”


Delaware and Tennessee are the only two states to win education grants in the first round of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program.

The Economic Policy Institute finds that student loan reform will likely be a job-creator: “Similar to food stamps and unemployment insurance, this spending creates demand for goods and services in local communities, and this in turn helps to create jobs.”


The Obama administration announced yesterday “that it is expanding by $600 million a fund aimed at helping states tackle the foreclosure crisis with locally tailored approaches.” North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Rhode Island will share the money.

Climate Change

Koch Industries has “become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition,” spending over $48.5 million since 1997 to fund the climate denial machine, according to an extensive report today by Greenpeace.

The recent declarations that “cap and trade is dead,” Harvard economist Robert Stavins argues, is because “all of the hostility to action on climate change, mainly but not exclusively from Republicans and coal-state Democrats, was targeted at the policy du jour — cap-and-trade.”

A new study involving scientists from 13 different organizations, universities and research institutions states that “forest protection offers one of the most effective, practical, and immediate strategies to combat climate change,” and “makes specific recommendations for incorporating protected areas into overall strategies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses from deforestation and degradation (nicknamed REDD).”