The Wonkline: May 29, 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.



Health Care

Yesterday, President Obama warned that “if Congress doesn’t deliver health care legislation by the end of the year, the opportunity will be lost.” The statement is being interpreted as a plea to political supporters to pressure lawmakers to act.

“The push to include a public health care option as part of a system-wide overhaul benefited from two major boosts Wednesday.” Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the chairman of the Finance Committee and lead health care negotiator, is “fighting tooth and nail to include that in any final deal,” his chief of staff said and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) indicated that he is open to a public option.

Ezra Klein asks, Will Unions Kill Health Care Reform?


According to a new report, “climate change kills about 315,000 people a year through hunger, sickness and weather disasters, and the annual death toll is expected to rise to half a million by 2030.”

The Obama administration is ordering a “one-year moratorium on most road-building and other development on about 50 million acres of remote national forests.”

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told The Associated Press on Thursday that the United States should “shed its energy-wasting image and lead the world race for cleaner power sources instead.” After several years with a relatively low profile under President Bush, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “is back on the job,” Jackson said.

National Security

At the New Atlanticist, David J. Kramer and Damon Wilson write that Ukraine is “teetering between economic collapse, Russian influence, and vague promises of Western support. It will take decisive moves from Washington to help pull Ukraine back from the edge.”

Reuters reports that an Iranian official has accused the United States “of involvement in a mosque bombing that killed more than 20 people in Zahedan in south-eastern Iran, two weeks before the Islamic Republic’s presidential election.”

Responding to questions about North Korea last night, Defense Secretary Gates said that “I don’t think that anybody in the [Obama] administration thinks there is a crisis…What we do have, though, are two new developments that are very provocative, that are aggressive, accompanied by very aggressive rhetoric.”


The Commerce Department will release a report today showing that “the economy took a steep tumble at the start of this year, though it may not turn out to be quite as grim as the government first thought. The report is expected to show that the economy “shrank at an annualized rate of 5.5% from January to March.”

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that “the Obama administration plans to usher General Motors Corp. into bankruptcy court Monday and push through a restructuring that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars more than previously envisioned.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) wants to close “up to 220 state parks to help cut the state’s $24.3 billion deficit, including popular attractions for millions of visitors each year.”