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The WonkLine: March 13, 2009

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"The WonkLine: March 13, 2009"

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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.

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Climate

Speaking before the Business Roundtable Thursday, President Obama warned industry that global warming “is a real problem” – ” go down to Atlanta, which may not have any water soon, because of what’s happening in terms of changing weather patterns, or talk to Kevin Rudd in Australia.”

EPA’s current standards for airborne ozone” are not sufficient, says the author of a study which found “the risk of dying from respiratory disease increased as much as 50 percent as a result of long-term exposure” to the smog component.

The Senate Commerce Committee held an unannounced meeting Thursday to unanimously approve the nominations of key Obama climate scientists John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco.

Economy

American families’ wealth “plunged nearly 18% in 2008, erasing years of sharp gains on housing and stocks and marking the biggest loss since the Federal Reserve began keeping track after World War II”; U.S. households’ net worth “tumbled by $11 trillion — a decline in a single year that equals the combined annual output of Germany, Japan and the U.K.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) plans to visit Colombia next month, adding that “my view is it’s appropriate for us to” take up the United States-Colombia Free Trade Agreement this year.

After badgering from lawmakers, an SEC official and a chief rulemaker today pledged to modify within three weeks” the mark-to-market accounting rule.

National Security

National security analyst Micah Zenko warns against the use of no-fly zones in Darfur.

Najam Sethi, editor in chief of Pakistan’s Daily Times, explains the growing crisis in Pakistan.

Forbes’s list of the richest people in the world includes a fugitive drug don from Mexico, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, at No. 701. Mr. Guzmán escaped from a Mexican prison in a laundry cart in 2001, days before he was to be extradited to the United States. The United States government is offering a $5 million reward for his capture. Forbes put his net worth at about $1 billion. His industry is listed as “shipping.”

Health Care

A bipartisan group of nine Senators “is nearing an agreement on the broad strokes of a health care reform bill.” The so-called Gang of Nine is grappling with “how to pay for a plan that some estimate could cost as much as $1 trillion and how to integrate a public, government-run plan into the private system.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) “is appealing to the business community to help him draft a workable play-or-pay system.”

According to a survey of 489 large U.S. employers, “62% said they were confident they would still be offering their workers health coverage 10 years from now, down from 73% last year.”


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