The WonkLine: February 23, 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

President Obama hosts a fiscal responsibility summit today, “to begin a frank discussion on how we can address the long-term fiscal problems facing the nation.” Previewing the administration’s strategy on CNN this morning, Peter Orszag said, “Health care is clearly the key to our fiscal future, so we need to get health care costs under control and we want to do that this year.”

Jonathan Cohn and Ezra Klein preview what the Obama budget will say on health care.

On Sunday, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) said she has not talked with Obama about joining his Cabinet. “There really isn’t anything to tell. I haven’t had any meetings about the position,” she said.


This week “more than 10,000 activists will converge on Washington D.C.” for PowerShift 2009, “to hold our elected officials responsible for rebuilding our economy and reclaiming our future through bold climate and clean energy policy.”


Carol Browner told reporters Sunday that “the Environmental Protection Agency will soon issue a rule on the regulation of carbon dioxide, finding that it represents a danger to the public.”

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory, “the first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide,” is scheduled for launch Tuesday to observe the world’s natural carbon sinks.

National Security

According to a South Korean Defense Ministry report, “North Korea has deployed a new ballistic missile that threatens U.S. military bases in Guam.” The report “also said that in the past two years, the North has boosted the number of its special operations troops by 50 percent to 180,000, focusing on night-time and mountain and urban warfare based on ‘the lessons it had learned while watching the war in Iraq.’”

Incoming deputy secretary of defense Janine Davidson has a post at Small Wars Journal about the new US Government Counterinsurgency Guide (pdf).


The BBC reports that Iraq’s National Museum has “reopened nearly six years after it was looted and vandalized in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion.”


A housing package — including a provision allowing judges to “cram-down” distressed homeowners’ mortgages — “could hit the House floor as early as this week”; the banking industry “appears resigned” to cram-downs passing.

Econospeak hits Sen. McConnell’s (R-KY) opposition to letting the Bush tax cuts expire: “Excuse me but recessions do not last forever and the President was clear that he has been talking about a mix of short-term fiscal stimulus and long-term restraint.”

Kevin Carey discusses moral hazard: “The problem is that ‘moral hazard’ has for many people been elevated to the level of F=MA as an iron-clad law of the universe and as such is used to justify all kinds of cruel and spurious positions.”