The WonkLine: March 24, 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

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu won Labor chief Ehud Barak’s agreement on Tuesday to a political partnership that could help Israel’s next government avoid friction with Washington on Middle East peace. Under the deal, an administration led by Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud would respect all of Israel’s international agreements.

As tension mounts over North Korea’s plans to test-fire a long-range rocket, two American journalists arrested last week on the Chinese border have been transferred to Pyongyang for interrogation.

A peace conference for Nobel laureates in South Africa has been called off over the government’s refusal to allow the Dalai Lama to attend, organizers said.

Health Care

“American workers – whose taxes pay for massive government health programs – are getting squeezed like no other group by private health insurance premiums that are rising much faster than their wages.”

Despite President Obama’s pledge for a deficit neutral health care reform plan, “Democratic lawmakers who will be writing the legislation are not echoing their commander in chief.”

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) on health care reform: “Absolutely we’ll get something done on it. The time is right, the need is there and it’s going down a bipartisan track.” ..”It will not be a perfect bill, it will not be a complete answer,” Enzi warned. “But it will get a lot done. It may well even get the goal of having every American insured done.”


Dean Baker on Geithner’s bank plan: “[T]his plan is not likely to buy up enough bad assets to maintain the solvency of the banks, so we will need yet another bailout package or the banks will have to finally be pushed into receivership.”

Treasury will announce this week “a preliminary plan to help General Motors and Chrysler that sets goals and deadlines that could be more ambitious than the companies themselves have proposed.”

Goldman Sachs is planning to give back its TARP money soon, possibly within the next month; Andrew Ross Sorkin warns that “there is a risk that its rivals may feel the need to follow suit, even if they aren’t financially ready to do so.”


As the swollen Red River heads its third 100-year-flood in 12 years, President Obama told North Dakotans to take global warming “seriously,” and that limits on carbon emissions should be viewed as “an opportunity” to create jobs and achieve energy independence.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission published final rules Monday to close the “Enron loophole” that exempts energy speculators from federal regulation.

“Scientists at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory say there has been more than a 30 percent ice decline on the lakes since the 1970s” due to global climate change.