The WonkLine: April 17, 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.


The United States and Mexico agreed on Thursday “on a new partnership to fight climate change and promote environmentally-friendly forms of energy production.”

A Canadian advisory panel warned its government that “the U.S. under President Barack Obama is moving quickly on capping emissions and will hammer Canadian exports if Canada does not follow suit.”


“It kind of looks like the Obama administration has declared war on Ohio and Indiana,” Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) claimed of the President’s clean energy plan, as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) “said the proposal could hurt the United States’ ability to compete in the international marketplace.”


The Wall Street Journal reports that “the United Food and Commercial Workers union is ramping up organizing at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. after a five-year lull, dovetailing with its efforts to win support in Congress for a bill to make union organizing easier.”

AIG CEO Edward Liddy “still owns a significant stake in Goldman Sachs, one of the insurer’s trading partners that was made whole by the government bailout of A.I.G.”

Matthew Syed reports from “inside the mightiest financial institution,” Goldman Sachs. “It is the place where every sharp-dressed, hard-edged graduate longs to work, not least because the best and brightest are promoted so fast that their noses bleed.”

National Security

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran could respond to U.S. efforts to engage with Tehran if Washington turns the new tenor of its words into reality. “If the Obama administration turns its expressions of change into reality, there can also be change on our side,” he said. The Cuban government is prepared to meet with the Obama administration, Cuba’s leader said Thursday. Raúl Castro said Cuba is willing “to discuss everything — human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners.’’ President Obama said yesterday that he would push the US senate to ratify a small arms trafficking treaty to stem the flow of weapons crossing the border into Mexico.

Health Care

Prices of the most frequently used brand-name prescription drugs are rising despite the current economic recession, but prices of generic drugs are declining, according to an annual AARP report. Bloomberg reports that “U.S. drugmakers led by Merck & Co. and Biogen Idec Inc. are stepping up their fight against President Barack Obama’s move to encourage cheaper medical care.” The New York Times reports that Chrysler “is close to a deal with the United Automobile Workers to finance retiree health care.” Chrysler has agreed to give more than 20 percent of its stock to a UAW administered trust to pay for half of its $10.6 billion obligation for retiree health care.