The WonkLine: September 3, 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.


One year after taking their “Legalize LA” campaign in support of immigration reform national, American Apparel Inc. will be laying off 1,500 of its factory workers who government officials pointed out were unauthorized to work in the US.

A U.S. District Court Judge ruled to move the trial of four former top managers at an Iowa slaughterhouse where the largest immigration raid in U.S. history took place in 2008 from Cedar Rapids, IA to Sioux Falls, SD citing the inability to seat an impartial jury. Just shortly after a report was released citing an environment of “racial intolerance and anti-immigrant hatred” in Suffolk County, NY; burglars broke into a local Spanish-speaking church and vandalized it with anti-Hispanic notes.

National Security

The State Department said yesterday that “it has extended a contract for protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq with a subsidiary of the security firm once known as Blackwater USA even though the company doesn’t have a license to operate in the country.”


The New York Times writes that President Obama’s decision regarding whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan is “leaving him in the awkward position of relying on the Republican Party, and not his own, for support.”

“Iran is not going to produce a nuclear weapon any time soon and the threat posed by its atomic program has been exaggerated,” Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a newly published interview.

Health Care

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said yesterday “that he would not vote for a health care bill that included a government-run option.” “There will be no shot at 60 votes, because I’m not the only one,” said Lieberman, adding that if “three years from now a case can be made that the private market is not working effectively, I would support the public option.”

Tom Daschle explains why reconciliation should be on the table: “However, should Republican intransigence continue, Democrats cannot simply stop. They cannot ignore the human suffering as well as their fiscal responsibility to act.”


TNR’s Jonathan Chait on the lesson of August: “A month or two ago, conventional wisdom demanded that the Democrats compromise with Republicans. Now the conventional wisdom has started to recognize that this is impossible.”


Yesterday, the Treasury Department “backed away from a standoff” with TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky, withdrawing a request to the Justice Department “seeking a legal opinion on how much independence [Barofsky’s office] enjoys.”

James Parks at AFL-CIO Now points out that “since Jan. 1, 2008, the top 20 financial industry recipients of bailout aid have together laid off more than 160,000 employees. In 2008, the 20 CEOs at these firms each averaged $13.8 million in compensation, for a collective total of over $250 million.”

Stan Collender writes that opponents of health care reform are trying to make “’entitlement’ into this year’s version of ‘death tax,’ the phrase that was used so successfully in the debate on estate taxes.”

Climate Change

“With a 3 foot sea level rise, most of the lower half of the Everglades disappears. Much of the Keys are under water.” With a sea level rise of 1.5 feet, “Southern Brooklyn and Queens, Wall Street in lower Manhattan, and eastern Staten Island could also end up underwater.”


“Greenland’s glaciers are melting into the sea faster than ever before,” Greenpeace warned. The “Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier is probably the world’s fastest moving glacier,” moving 38 meters every day.

Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Laura Ingraham call White House special advisor on green jobs Van Jones “an avowed communist,” an “anti-American guy,” and a “radical advisor” who is “fighting a revolution.”