The WonkLine: April 6, 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.

National Security

The United Nations failed to agree on a response to North Korea’s long-range rocket launch despite pressure from Washington and its allies for action. Analysts said Sunday’s launch of the rocket was effectively a test of a ballistic missile designed to carry a warhead as far as the Alaska.

President Obama said on Sunday that the U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland will go forward “as long as the threat from Iran persists.”


A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to a crowded Shiite mosque just south of the capital on Sunday, killing at least 26 people. It was the third suicide attack in Pakistan in 24 hours, a sign that the Pakistani Taliban are overwhelming the nation’s security forces.

Health Care

“Only 6 percent of hospitals have enough portions of an electronic health record to qualify for government incentives under the economic stimulus legislation.”

The Illinois legislature is considering ‘The Health Insurance Consumer Protection Act’ which “addresses key barriers facing consumers who struggle with unfair and inconsistent industry practices.” The insurance industry is opposing the measure.

Tim Foley responds to a NYT story about doctors refusing to accept new Medicare patients: “when it comes to physician compensation, doctors are also leaving the private insurance system, and for similar reasons. This isn’t a Medicare problem — it’s a health care problem.”


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has hired former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to be a senior adviser to chamber President Thomas Donohue.


Robert Reich on Secretary Geithner’s pronouncement that he is prepared to oust management at federally bailed-out banks: “I suspect Geithner’s new tough line is mostly designed to reassure a public that’s lost all faith in the wisdom of bailing out Wall Street.”

Andrew Rosenfeld on Geithner’s public-private investment fund: “Even if it is successful, the program will add very little new capital to the banks — roughly only the amount paid for toxic assets that is over and above their current value.”


USA Today reports that “a growing number of states are moving to require home builders to offer solar electricity and hot-water systems in new homes.”

“Over the weekend the ice bridge linking the Wilkins Ice Shelf and two islands snapped. Scientists and environmental campaigners say it’s another example of the rapid rate of climate change and the Obama administration agrees.”

President Barack Obama said yesterday that the US is “ready to take the lead in tackling climate change, as EU leaders pushed him to follow their ambitious targets to combat global warming.”