The WonkLine: February 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.

Health Care

Community pharmacists from across the nation have begun an over-the-counter lobbying campaign “to prevent cuts to the reimbursement rates pharmacists are paid to fill prescriptions for Medicare and Medicaid patients and to push Congress to allow [them] to pool together to negotiate drug prices directly with the federal government.”

“I can tell you that the president has already put national health care coverage into his budget,” Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) said at an event on Sunday.


The Washington Post examines the “roadblocks” to “creating an electronic health record for every American by 2014.”


The Obama administration “reversed years of U.S. policy Monday by calling for a treaty to cut mercury pollution,” primarily produced by coal-fired plants.

On March 3, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing the case on which John Grisham based The Appeal — “whether an elected judge’s [West Virgnia Supreme Court Judge Brent Benjamin] refusal to take himself off a case involving a chief financial backer [Massey coal executive Don Blankenship] is unconstitutional.”

CNN recommends five travel spots to visit before global warming destroys them.

National Security

National security analyst Micah Zenko writes about the “growth of the Predator strikes against senior and mid-level [Al Qaeda and Taliban] lieutenants,” which “has not helped to prevent the spread of jihadist sympathies in the tribal regions and beyond.”


Responding to this post, Galrahn at Information Dissemination suggests that the Air Force has not engaged in the debate over the F-22 effectively.

The Washington Post reports that the Pakistani government, “desperate to restore peace” to the Taliban-infested Swat valley, “agreed Monday to enforce strict Islamic law in the surrounding district near the Afghan border.”


Bailed out banks Citigroup and Bank of America “are charging financial companies three times more to sell bonds under a U.S.-backed rescue program than government- controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pay to issue notes with similar maturities.”

In Forbes, Andrew Rosenfeld notes that “capitalism dictates government action to save the banks — but not their shareholders.”

Real Time Economics looks at Ron Bloom, “whom the Treasury Department is expected to bring in as a senior adviser to help handle the U.S. auto industry’s restructuring.”