The WonkLine: January 30, 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.


In the Wall Street Journal, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) advocates mortgage modification as “one of the most tangible and productive steps we can take to limit the fallout from the real-estate depression.”

The Economic Policy Institute writes that it’s “time to rescind wasteful business tax cuts” from the economic stimulus.


The Quick and the Ed makes the case for using education funding in the stimulus “for general K-12 purposes instead of restricting the funding for Title I, special education and career tech.”

National Security

The Washington Post reports on the assassinations of three Sunni Muslim political candidates in separate incidents, two days before Iraq holds its first elections in four years.

BBC reports that North Korea has said it’s scrapping all military and political agreements signed with South Korea, accusing it of hostile intent. North Korean media reported that the South has pushed relations “to the brink of a war.”

Richard Silverstein comments on the Davos dust-up between Israeli president Peres and Turkish prime minister Erdogan.


Saying “There’s a new sheriff in town,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar “has asked the Justice Department to reopen criminal investigations of employees involved in a recent sex, drugs and financial favor scandal at the Minerals Management Service.”


Scientists report that glaciers worldwide shrank “as much as 3 meters” in 2007, “the 18th year of retreat and twice as fast as a decade ago”, due to global warming.

The Air Force on Thursday “dropped plans to build a coal-to-liquid plant to produce fuel for its aircraft” at the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

Health Care

The Senate approved legislation yesterday “to provide health insurance to 11 million low-income children”; a provision subjecting most legal permanent residents to a five-year ban was overturned.

A study of Texas hospitals “found that the use of health IT significantly improves quality and efficiency”; for every 10-point increase in IT, there was a 15 percent decline in mortality rate for all conditions studied.

Yesterday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) called for health care reform in 2009: “This is our time, we need to move forward, we need to get this job accomplished this year.”