The WonkLine: June 3, 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.




Climate change could spark ‘environmental wars’ in the Middle East over already scarce water supplies and dissuade Israel from any pullout from occupied Arab land,” a report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development warns: “In a region already considered the world’s most water scarce, climate models are predicting a hotter, drier and less predictable climate.”

“A recession, the worst GDP drop since the 1950s, is the wrong circumstance, the wrong backdrop to introduce legislation that would revolutionize the energy economy in this country,” said Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), who has “urged House Democratic leaders and the Obama administration to ditch the cap-and-trade provisions until the economy picks up.”

Two different coalitions of agriculture lobbies have asked House leadership to modify the agricultural and forestry carbon offsets program in Waxman-Markey (H.R. 2454).

National Security

The New York Times reports that, in response to President Obama’s request for a peace gesture toward Israel, “the Saudis say the Arab world made substantial concessions in the Arab Peace Initiative, which was endorsed by a 22-nation coalition during an Arab League summit in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2002.”

Reuters reports that “Pakistani authorities are preparing for the return of residents to Swat’s main town but decisive victory will only be won when Taliban leaders are dead, an army commander said.”

The LA Times reports that “there is no Twittering about Tiananmen Square, or anything else, in China this week. In a crackdown apparently timed to the 20th anniversary Thursday of the crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations, the Chinese government has pulled the plug on the social networking site Twitter and dozens of other Internet sites and blogs.”


Congress today “will open a debate that has stymied them for at least a decade: the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant housing finance agencies nearly felled by the credit crisis.”

A federal appeals court “agreed late Tuesday night to hear an appeal from a group of lenders seeking to block the sale of Chrysler’s assets.” Zero Hedge writes that “here is where the door to the Supreme Court of the United States opens” for the Chrysler case.

Brad Delong examines the hidden purposes of high finance: “It is for these reasons that we have seemed frozen for the past generation or two whenever we have contemplated reforming our system of financial regulation. And it is why, even in the face of a severe financial crisis, we remain frozen today.”

Health Care

Yesterday at the White House, President Obama called the next few months a “make-or-break period” for health-care legislation in Congress. “Soaring health-care costs are unsustainable for families, they are unsustainable for businesses, and they are unsustainable for governments,” Obama said. “This is the time where we’ve got to get this done.”

A new paper published in Health Affairs finds that “the number of uninsured Americans is projected to increase by at least 6.9 million by 2010 — meaning 19.2 percent of nonelderly Americans would be uninsured.” The number of uninsured Americans will reach 52 million in 2010, the researchers conclude.

Tim Foley asks, Why the Hell Did Judd Gregg Release a Health Care Plan?