The WonkLine: April 21, 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.




Several hundred people marched on Duke Energy headquarters this morning” — and forty-four were arrested — “to decry the expansion of Duke’s Cliffside coal-fired power plant in Rutherford County.”

Oxfam report: “Emergency organizations could be overwhelmed within seven years” as the “victims of climate change-related disasters” “increase by “54% to more than 375 million people a year on average by 2015.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH): ” What many people” — see Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rep. Fred Upton (R-OH) — “don’t understand is that climate change legislation can make our region and our country stronger.”

Health Care

Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) have written a letter to President Obama promising to finish writing legislation on health care “by early June.”

Advocacy group Consumer Watchdog “is accusing the Obama administration and congressional Democrats of negotiating a deal with industry lobbyists at the expense of average Americans.” The group is nervous that the administration may compromise on the public plan.

“President Barack Obama’s health secretary nominee faces a vote in a divided Senate committee after revelations about her ties to a late-term abortion doctor turned some Republicans against her,” the AP reports.


The Washington Post reports that officials at Chrysler Financial turned away a $750 million government loan “because executives didn’t want to abide by new federal limits on pay.”

Felix Salmon wonders if Treasury Secretary Geithner can stop banks from withdrawing from TARP: “In normal times, no bank would be remotely inclined to do something which the Treasury secretary has quite explicitly told them he doesn’t want them to do. But these of course are not normal times.”

Harvard Law professor Lucian Bebchuck discusses how to avoid overpaying for toxic assets: “This problem…isn’t fatal. It can be fixed, and fixing it would do a great deal both to increase the [Geithner] plan’s benefits and reduce its costs.”

National Security

Spencer Ackerman reports at least one other memorandum on CIA interrogations remains undisclosed: a 2007 opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel on what a new interpretation of the Geneva Conventions’ Common Article 3 meant for the agency’s ‘enhanced interrogation program.'”

Diplomats at the UN sought Tuesday to advance an anti-racism declaration and brush off comments from Iran’s president that prompted a rare conference walk-out. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the only head of state to attend the UN’s conference on racism, called Israel a “totally racist government” in an address on Monday.

The Taliban in Pakistan have issued a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the Pakistani government, by declaring the country’s entire legal system “un-Islamic.”