The WonkLine: February 2, 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

Tom Daschle’s ties to the health industry and his promise to wait a year before working on “particular matters” in which “a former client of mine is a party” may suggest that Obama doesn’t plan to take up health care reform until 2010.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “now sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee” where he will help Kennedy draft the health care reform bill.


Economist Atul Gawande argues, “health care reform will be meaningful only if we develop a system that holds health care providers responsible for making care better, safer, and less costly.”


Despite widespread budget shortfalls, “Rising unemployment has touched off a race among state governors to woo companies with tax breaks and financial incentives.”

Capital Gains and Games responds to reports that Wall St. handed out $18.4 billion in bonuses last year: “Is it really possible that the Wall Street community doesn’t understand how much its world has changed in the past six months?”

The New York Times laments that “lost in the wrangling over the huge House economic measure were two programs for the poor that are in urgent need of Congressional attention: legal services and access to family planning.”

National Security

Spencer Ackerman reports on the fears of Iraqi translators that new rules for foreign contractors could result in their identities being revealed, leading to retribution against them and their families for having aided the U.S. occupation.


The Progressive Realist is a new “metablog about American foreign policy,” selectively aggregating the work of a number of foreign policy and national security bloggers.

Musings on Iraq examines Iraqi voter turnout in 2009 compared to 2005, and also has a rundown of who currently rules Iraq’s various provinces.


A record heat wave in Australia is part of an “unprecedented 12-year drought.” “The driest inhabited continent on earth,” scientists warn Australia “may also be the first to implode under the impact of climate change.”

Speaking at an environmental justice conference, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said, “We have an answer for people who want to scare us into backing off strong environmental protections.”

After 150 top marine scientists call for immediate action to halt ocean acidification, Google will add “vast amounts of underwater imagery and seabed maps to the Google Earth project.”