The WonkLine: February 6, 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.



Health Care

In the wake of Tom Daschle’s departure, Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) have written a letter to President Obama reaffirming their committed to “enacting comprehensive health care reform this year.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a disturbing study on how cancer care costs are undermining family finances. Merrill Goozner criticizes the report for remaining “largely silent” on the main cause of rising cancer care costs — the rapid increase in the price of new cancer drugs.

Over at ZDnet, Dana Blankenhorn debunks the conservative fear-mongering about comparative effectiveness research.


Uwe Reinhardt explains why it’s wrong to justify high executive-compensation levels: “Whether or not compensation is fair depends on how you think about an employee’s contributions to the company.”

Jean Braucher at Credit Slips makes the case for involving trustees in mortgage cram-downs: “A big reason for needing trustees in the picture is to keep track of mortgage payments, because servicers make a lot of errors.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that “the Obama administration’s delay in naming a ‘car czar’ is slowing the auto industry’s progress in restructuring talks with bondholders and the United Auto Workers union.”

National Security

Pakistan’s high court has freed accused nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan. Khan had served five years of effective house arrest for allegedly sharing nuclear know-how and technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea. “It was not immediately clear whether Mr Khan would be allowed to travel freely outside the country. Nor was it clear whether the government would appeal against the court order releasing him.”

Marc Lynch examines the first Palestinian public opinion survey since the Gaza war. Short answer: Hamas gained, Fatah declined.

Ellen Barry looks at the implications of Kyrghistan’s decision to close Manas air base.


“In a case that could prompt the EPA to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions,” two environmental organizations sued the EPA on Wednesday “for violating its duty to review and update its emission standards for nitric acid plants.”

AFL-CIO president John Sweeney announced the creation of a $1 million Center for Green Jobs at the Green Jobs, Good Jobs conference in Washington, D.C.

In a “pre-emptive strike against the expected effects of climate change in the Arctic Ocean,” a federal fishery council on Thursday “established a moratorium on commercial seafood harvests in a vast zone off Alaska’s northern coast.”