The WonkLine: May 7, 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

After a day of meetings with the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, President Obama stressed the U.S. commitment to both countries. Refugees continue to flee fighting between Pakistan government forces and the Taliban.

A planned EU-brokered meeting between Georgia, its rebel region of South Ossetia and Russia was broken off Thursday, amid accusations from both sides. NATO also began a month of military exercises in Georgia on Wednesday, despite opposition from Moscow.

Libya has requested that the Scottish government allow a dying prisoner, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, “the only man ever convicted in the bombing of an American jumbo jet over Lockerbie in 1988, to be sent back to his homeland.”


According to reports, “the Federal Reserve directed at least seven of the nation’s biggest banks to bolster their capital levels by $65 billion while effectively blessing the stability of six others” following the completion of their stress tests. Calculated Risk has the list here.

President Obama is hosting a meeting today “with three unlikely bedfellows” to discuss education reform: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

According to a new report from the TARP’s Congressional Oversight Panel, “Americans are having a hard time getting credit and the effectiveness of government programs to spur lending is unclear.”

Health Care

Two reports released yesterday “show that progress in improving the quality of health care and narrowing health disparities among ethnic groups remains agonizingly slow, and that patient safety may actually be declining.”

House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) said yesterday “that there was ‘no way’ he would support taxing employer-provided health benefits, Americans’ leading source of coverage.”

According to a new report from Families USA “nearly four million people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey — about one-fifth of the population — live in households that will spend more than 10 percent of their pretax income on health care this year.”


People of faith are speaking out,” Rev. Joel Hunter says in a new radio ad. “A great assembly of Christian pastors and churches and America’s military leaders are demanding that Congress passes a climate bill that…protects vulnerable families and communities at home and abroad who are most hurt by climate change.”

Corporatist Blue Dogs and New Democrats like Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) and Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) “are pressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to set aside a flagging climate change bill,” which drilling advocate Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) called “essentially stalled.”

“Thousands of homes” have been evacuated “as wildfire hits Southern California,” spurred by “gusts approaching 100 kilometres an hour.”