The WonkLine: March 2, 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

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “shook hands with her Syrian counterpart Monday as the two attended a conference in Egypt on rebuilding the Gaza Strip. The simple handshake before lunch was the highest-level contact between the two countries in years.”

Shiite protestors took to the streets in Baghdad, “asserting that electoral fraud had deprived Shiites of seats on an influential provincial council.”

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s party “racked up commanding leads Monday in local elections that non-governmental parties and independent observers said were awash in widespread voting violations.

Health Care

In his weekly radio address, President Obama signaled that he is ready to take on the health insurance industry. “I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families,” he said.

Karen Ignagni, the CEO of American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), suggests that the America should “reduce projected health care spending increases by $500 billion over five years.”

Jonathan Cohn examines the abortion ‘fireworks’ surrounding Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ (D-KS) nomination to the HHS.


Inside Higher Ed notes that “many colleges are making a point of slowing the rate of tuition increases this year, and all signs suggest that approach will be a common one during this recession.”

Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden “hailed the re-opening of a Chicago factory as early evidence the stimulus plan is working.”

Regulators have closed two more banks — Heritage Community Bank in Illinois, and Security Savings Bank in Nevada — marking 16 failures this year of federally insured institutions.


“Citing a third consecutive year of drought conditions,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) Friday “declared a state of emergency and called on urban residents to cut their water usage by 20 percent.”

“Despite hurricanes Dolly, Gustav and Ike soaking Texas in 2008,” nearly 97 percent of Texas is in drought, with eight percent of the state in exceptional drought, the driest in the country.

Opening the Power Shift conference in Washington, D.C., EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told the 10,000 youth climate activists that “EPA is back on the job.”