The WonkLine: April 23, 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. Also, you can now follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.



National Security

The Obama administration will put forth new peace initiatives only if Israel wants it to, said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in his first comprehensive interview on foreign policy since taking office. “Believe me, America accepts all our decisions,” Lieberman said.

Responding to calls for the use of airstrikes against pirate bases in Somalia, Micah Zenko writes that “it is important to recall that the U.S. has already bombed Somalia five times in the last 2 1/2 years with little military or political success.”

Pakistani authorities deployed special constabulary forces to a strategically important district only 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad, that has come under the effective control of the Taliban in the last several days.

Health Care

A recent report by the Center for Health Law and Economics at the University of Massachusetts argues that the growing health care spending in Massachusetts “is due to health care inflation – a nationwide phenomenon.”

Robert Laszewski: “It is clear to me that there is real movement in the Senate on the issue of taxation of health benefits. I can see key Senators on both sides of the aisle agreeing to it as a means to help pay for reform. Likely, it would take the form of taxing everyone’s benefits above a certain threshold or taxing all health benefits for higher income people.”

How to convince the insured that they will benefit from health care reform.


The Obama administration reportedly wants the Senate to pass education reform — including ending subsidies to student loan providers — through the budget reconciliation process.

The federal TALF program, aimed at boosting consumer lending, “has fallen well short of expectations.” Mark Thoma wonders if this is a bad sign for Geithner’s toxic asset plan.

Paul Krugman on bank profits: “Citigroup is profitable because investors think it’s failing, while Morgan Stanley is losing money because investors think it will survive. I am not making this up.”


House Republicans are “predicting the Democrats’ failure on a major global warming and energy bill — and they are writing an alternative for when it comes to that.”

Despite nervousness from some conservative Democrats about moving quickly on legislation capping carbon emissions, Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said he’s sticking to his aggressive timeline of voting.

“Initiatives aimed at cutting emissions while encouraging economic development are failing the world’s poorest countries, leading scientists from Oxford University are warning.”