The WonkLine: April 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.

National Security

U.S. forces hope to cut off the Taliban’s main source of finance, Afghanistan’s opium crop, “by pouring thousands of troops into the three provinces that bankroll much of the group’s operations.”


Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas will attempt a fifth round of reconciliation talks. “Egypt, which has been mediating the negotiations, set May 15 as the new deadline for reaching an agreement,” the New York Times reports. Times Online reports that “North Korea has threatened to carry out a second nuclear test unless the United National Security Council apologizes for criticism of its rocket launch earlier this month.”


“At least six of the 19 largest U.S. banks require additional capital, according to preliminary results of government stress tests.” Barry Rithholz writes that “all this goes to show is that receivership was the correct approach to this in the first place.”

The Supreme Court heard arguments in Cuomo v. the Clearing House Association yesterday, a case that may decide “which part of the government should serve as the nation’s watchdog for national banks.”


Financial Times reports that “the volume of commercial mortgages at risk of default has quintupled since the beginning of 2008” as its been “increasingly difficult for shops and businesses to keep up with their payments.”

Health Care

By a vote of 65 to 31, “the Senate confirmed the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services on Tuesday, allowing President Obama to fill the last vacancy in his cabinet with a seasoned politician who will take charge of the fight against swine flu.” Sebelius was also sworn in yesterday.

Did you know that insurance companies “are the only sector of the health care industry lacking a code of conduct?”

Powerful business groups “sent a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chair Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) expressing ‘grave reservations’ about creating a public insurance option.” Meanwhile, the leaders of four House caucuses called on Democratic leaders and President Obama “to ensure that a public health insurance plan is part of comprehensive health care reform legislation this year.”


A new report details how toxic pollution released by companies like DuPont, Archers Daniel Midland, and Exxon Mobil “disproportionately contaminates the air in neighborhoods where people of color and low-income families live.”


After Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) said green jobs are too expensive, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch responded: “Creating jobs by making our homes, buildings, cars and products as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible is something Missourians should welcome.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has opposed limits on global warming pollution for decades, released a report “projecting ‘significant’ economic consequences if President Obama’s proposal to cap greenhouse gases is implemented.”