The WonkLine: April 27, 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

In an effort to avoid a possible Swine Flu Pandemic, the European Union’s health commissioner urged Europeans “to avoid traveling to the United States or Mexico if doing so is not essential.”

Washington Post on the public health plan: “For liberals, labor unions and others pushing to make health care available to all Americans, however, the fixation on a public plan is bizarre and counterproductive.”


Jonathan Cohn reported that the House and Senate each have until October 15 to pass health care legislation and if they fail, Democrats will likely use reconciliation. In a bizarre WSJ editorial, former Senator John Sununu asks, “Why should anyone negotiate with [Obama] in good faith with such a threat hanging over the deliberations? “


“Diplomats from the world’s biggest greenhouse gas polluters including the United States, China and India” are meeting in a Major Economies Forum “aimed at getting a U.N. agreement to curb global warming.”

“I think cap and trade is bad policy,” coal-country Blue Dog Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) told Politico. “Any way you do it, it hurts Pennsylvania, especially western Pennsylvania.”

The “clean coal” smoke screen continues: “We can’t abandon coal,” Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers told 60 Minutes, as USA Today reports electric utilities spent a total of $51 million in the last six months of 2008 lobbying Congress on climate legislation.

National Security

“American troops killed two Iraqis on Sunday during an early morning raid in southern Iraq that set off public protests” and drew a complaint from Prime Minister Maliki that the operation “violated a new security agreement.”


Reuters reports that “a radical cleric, acting as the Taliban’s go-between in Pakistan’s restive Swat valley, broke off talks with the government after a military offensive began in a neighboring northwest region.”

“A first-time candidate for office and a member of Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party,” Anton Chumachenko won a seat on a local legislative council in St. Petersburg last month. “Three weeks later, he publicly renounced his own victory, expressing disgust that votes had been falsified in his favor.”


The World Bank said yesterday that the global financial crisis could become “a human and development calamity” for many poor countries, and urged donor nations “to speed delivery of money they have pledged and consider giving more.”

Bob Williams at TaxVox tracks the stimulus spending: “It’s no surprise that the stimulus has yet to get up to full speed…But we’ve gotten off to an encouraging start and we will watch to see how the game plays out.”

Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil on Bank of America’s forced acquisition of Merrill Lynch: “We are slipping toward a state of lawlessness in this country, all in the name of saving our financial system by creating even bigger banks out of combinations of banks that were dangerously too big already.”