The WonkLine: April 16, 2009

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"The WonkLine: April 16, 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, and subscribe to the RSS feed.

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National Security

Tens of millions of Indians began voting in a month-long election with signs that an unstable coalition may emerge in the middle of an economic slowdown. The ruling Congress party-led coalition appears to lead against an alliance headed by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Israeli President Shimon Peres dismissed speculation that his country might attack Iran to deny it the means of making nuclear weapons.

French forces struck Wednesday at what they described as a pirate “mother ship,” and captured 11 suspected pirates hours after pirates attacked an American cargo ship with rockets in the second serious attack on a U.S. vessel in a week.

Economy

The Treasury Dept. said yesterday that “the largest bank recipients of U.S. government aid are offering less credit to businesses and consumers…reflecting and exacerbating the tenuous state of the current economic environment.”

New data shows that the federal income tax burden is “hovering near its lowest level in three decades for all but the wealthiest Americans.”

Der Spiegal’s Alexander Neubacher writes that “the fight against tax havens is a sham“: “The OECD’s new tax haven blacklist contains exactly zero entries…Apparently not a single country today remains willing to serve as a place of refuge for global capital.”

Health Care

Merrill Goozner argues that AIG’s downfall may actually help the health care reform effort.

HealthLeaders-InterStudy found “that more employers are opting for consumer-driven health plans (CDHP) as they look for ways to reduce costs” due to the economic recession. “The individual CDHP market is also growing as the unemployed look for affordable health insurance options.”

Tim Foley asks “should the public plan option use Medicare rates?”: “Forget the politics of the public option – on a policy basis, it just doesn’t make much sense to import the Medicare rates.”

Climate

The New York Times reports that “while carbon dioxide may be the No. 1 contributor to rising global temperatures…black carbon has emerged as an important No. 2, with recent studies estimating that it is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s warming.”

The EPA announced that “it would order the manufacturers of 67 pesticides to test whether their products disrupt the hormonal system of humans or animals.”

The Obama administration unveiled today plans “for accelerating development of high-speed rail, a concept that in the past has had mixed political support and little public funding.”


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