The WonkLine: February 4, 2009

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 10 a.m. roundup of the latest news about health care, the economy, national security and climate policy. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below.



National Security

Army and Marine Corps officials knew nearly a decade before the invasion of Iraq that its workhorse Humvee vehicle was a “deathtrap,” even with armor added to protect it against roadside bombs.

Hamas police broke into a Gaza City aid warehouse Tuesday and seized thousands of blankets and food parcels, according to UN aid workers. A Hamas spokesman did not deny that the aid had been seized, but countered that the U.N. had been handing out relief to Hamas’ opponents.

Hillary Clinton plans to visit East Asia on her first trip as Secretary of State. Clinton is expected to visit China, Japan and South Korea.


A presidential memorandum directs the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to revisit the regulatory review process, including “the role of cost-benefit analysis” and “disclosure and transparency.”

EPA chief Lisa Jackson told Reuters “she hopes to reopen the public comment period this week on California’s request for authority to cut tailpipe emissions.”

Global warming is changing the seasons: “some birds are migrating earlier; plants are blooming earlier; mountain snows are melting earlier” — and now the “Earth’s seasons have shifted back in the calendar year.”


The Washington Post reports that President Obama’s rescue plan for banks “would amount to financial triage,” with the Treasury Department deciding which troubled assets “to buy, guarantee or leave in the hands of banks.”

The Economic Policy Institute examined “older Americans in the recession“: “More are staying in the workforce, more are losing their jobs.”

Dean Baker dispels the Columbus Dispatch’s stimulus falsehoods: “Paying someone to teach kids or provide health care creates jobs as surely as paying them to pave a highway.”

Health Care

Tim Foley reports that the GOP alternative to the stimulus “contains absolutely $0 for health care.”

David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior adviser, said the White House would “quickly put someone in place” but acknowledged it had no stand-in ready for Mr. Daschle. Some Obama aides expect Jeanne Lambrew to be promoted to head the White House Office on Health Reform.

Yesterday, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) acknowledged that healthcare reform cannot be done under the strictures of pay-as-you-go budgeting.