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.
A day after conducting its second nuclear test, and hours after the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the test, North Korea fired two short-range missiles off an east-coast base, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in Pakistan’s Swat Valley region amid fighting between the government and Taliban insurgents. “The offensive has sparked an exodus of 2.3 million people, according to provincial government figures.”
Spencer Ackerman reports that the Obama administration’s placement of a key Pakistani aid initiative under the purview of the Pentagon “has struck some on Capitol Hill — and in the State Department — as retrenchment on a core Obama administration priority: its pledge to rebalance a foreign-policy apparatus it sees as overly militarized.”
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has introduced legislation that “would allow the Treasury Department to license and regulate online gambling companies that serve American customers.” Frans said that “online gambling should be legal as a matter of personal liberty, calling it an activity the government should neither encourage nor prohibit.”
As the Treasury Department prepares to “unveil its plan for revamping the patchwork of agencies that oversee the financial industry,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has announced that he wants to attach a “shareholder bill of rights” to the package.
President Obama is expected to announce later this week the creation of a cyber security czar who “will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation’s government-run and private computer networks.”
“The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States fell by 18 this week to 900, down more than half from a year ago,” even as House Natural Resources chair Nick Rahall (D-WV) called for legislation that “promotes domestic energy production on the outer continental shelf and federal lands.”
“We are jumping as high as the political system will tolerate,” said Todd Stern, the US Special Envoy for Climate Change about the Obama administration’s climate goals, saying “the U.S. level of effort is probably equal, or superior, to that of Europe.”
Thomas Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, a major utility lobbying group, about Waxman-Markey: “We have expressed our concerns about the size of the target, particularly the near-term targets.”
Karen Davis on the health industry’s pledge to control costs: “As the Congressional reform bills are shaped this summer, it will be important to remember that voluntary efforts have failed in the past…policymakers should consider incorporating expenditure targets in a public health insurance plan that is part of health reform and in Medicare.”
An increasing number of Democratic lawmakers are considering taxing employer-sponsored health care benefits to fund health care reform. An unnamed Ways and Means member said, “Everyone hates it. But where else do you go?”
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) has indicated that passing reform “supersedes his desire for bipartisanship.” “I want a bipartisan bill, because it’s more sustainable… But I don’t know. Crunch time is coming up here pretty soon,” Baucus said.