The WonkLine: February 13, 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.


Fish and Wildlife scientists said on Thursday that the American pika, a “furry relative of the rabbit that lives in the High Sierra,” is the first mammal outside of Alaska “that the federal government has agreed to consider for protection from harmful effects of global warming.”

House Natural Resources Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) said in Thursday’s hearing on H.R. 493 that coal-ash impoundments like the one that failed catastrophically in Tennessee are a “ticking time bomb on our hands.”


The economic recovery plan agreed to by House and Senate negotiators will “pump billions of dollars into ‘smart grid’ projects and renewable energy.”

Health Care

Steven Pearlstein on comparative effectiveness: “There is no reason we cannot set up reasonable procedures, overseen by independent health professionals, to protect patients who can demonstrate a special need for a treatment that is not normally cost-effective.”

Yesterday, speaking about health reform with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “We must begin the process. I don’t know if it can be done this year. It should be done this term.”

TNR’s Suzy Khimm reports how Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is adapting his controversial health proposal to reflect Obama’s framework.

National Security

Gershom Gorenberg surveys Israel’s elections: “By competing for Lieberman’s support in their fight with each other, Livni and Netanyahu put their desire to win over their country’s future.”


Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress yesterday that “instability in countries around the world caused by the current global economic crisis, rather than terrorism, is the primary near-term security threat to the United States.”

Danger Room’s Noah Shachtman reports that New York City is scaling back its plans to add 800 new cops to the force, relying instead on surveillance cameras.


The Obama administration is reportedly “considering a proposal to help distressed homeowners by subsidizing lenders who cut the interest rate on mortgages.”

The House agriculture committee voted to give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission “expanded control over financial products, an opening shot in a congressional turf battle over regulatory overhauls.”

At Crooked Timber, Prof. Harry Brighouse comments on “school improvement and the achievement gap.”