The WonkLine: February 26, 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.




Icecaps around the North and South Poles are melting faster” and “much more widespread than thought,” raising sea levels and fueling climate change, the International Polar Year survey.

Next week, Americans are being invited to take part in “what could become the largest act of civil disobedience against global warming in the country’s history,” protesting at the coal-fired power plant that powers Capitol Hill in Washington DC.

In Michigan, environmental regulators announced “they will ask power companies seeking to build coal-fired plants to review whether they have less-polluting alternatives.”

Health Care

Responding to the health provisions in President Obama’s first budget, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “by the end of this year, I want to do something significant dealing with health care.” Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) “predicted in an interview that the Senate could pass legislation by its August recess.”

A new analysis by researchers at Dartmouth finds that “Medicare spending continues to vary widely across the country.”

“One in four Americans said in a survey that someone in the family put off needed health care in the past year because of cost.”

National Security

A public opinion study in predominantly Muslim countries reveals that large majorities continue to renounce attacks on civilians as a means of pursuing political goals. At the same time, large majorities agree with al Qaeda’s goal of pushing the United States to remove its military forces from all Muslim countries

France, Germany and the UK are proposing “a tough list of additional sanctions to be imposed against Iran in order to give the Obama administration more muscle in its expected engagement of the Islamic republic.”

CIA Director Leon Panetta said yesterday “that U.S. aerial attacks against al-Qaeda and other extremist strongholds inside Pakistan would continue, despite concerns about a popular Pakistani backlash.”


Only one in three Americans now believe they will be able to fully retire “as huge losses in home and stock prices dent their confidence in the future.”

Lawmakers “are already shooting down President Obama’s plan to cut farm subsidies, dealing a blow to one of the cost-savings promises he laid out in his congressional address Tuesday night.”

The Obama administration “laid out a dark economic scenario it expects banks to be able to withstand” as part of its stress test: “unemployment rate rises above 10% and home prices fall by another 25%.”