The WonkLine: June 5, 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, and subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, you can now follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.


The New York Times reports that “cows at 15 farms across Vermont have had their grain feed adjusted to include more plants” instead of corn and soy, reducing their enteric methane emissions (burps) by 18 percent, without any loss in milk production.

“President Obama may attend world climate talks in Copenhagen this December, marking the first visit to the annual U.N. conference by a sitting U.S. president since George H.W. Bush’s 1992 trip to Rio de Janeiro,” according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).


The Washington Post finds that “corporate lobbyists have won billions of dollars of subsidies in the Waxman-Markey green economy legislation, including $500 billion for electric utilities and $12 billion for the auto industry.

National Security

The Hill reports that several Republican lawmakers revealed “some of what they had been told at a closed-door Intelligence Committee hearing on the interrogation of terrorism suspects.”

The AP reports that “the United States will impose its own financial sanctions on North Korea apart from punishments that the U.N. has been considering for Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised President Obama’s speech in Cairo, calling it an “ideal basis” to pursue peace efforts in the Middle East. Obama also said Friday that “he was dispatching his top Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, to the region next week to follow up on issues raised during the Cairo speech. Time was of the essence, he said, for Israelis and the Palestinians to step up their efforts.”

Health Care

On Thursday, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) “conceded that the Senate is unlikely to clear a bill that lacks a public plan option.” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) responded, “If the Democrats go ahead with a purely partisan bill, you saw what happened on Hillarycare, and this will be just as bad.”


Robert Laszweski asks if Democrats can finance health care reform: “Well, $309 billion in already announced cuts, plus $550 billion in taxes from limiting the health care exemption, and $300 billion more in Medicare and Medicaid cuts would take us to $1.16 trillion. That about hits the ‘full’ mark on my meter.”

Joe Paduda argues that given the recession, “providers’ financial difficulties may well force them to make concessions they otherwise wouldn’t even consider.”


The Wall Street Journal reports that “the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is pushing for a shake-up of Citigroup Inc.’s top management, imperiling Chief Executive Vikram Pandit.”

Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission “charged former Countrywide chief Angelo R. Mozilo, who ran the nation’s largest subprime mortgage lender, with fraud, making him the most prominent executive accused of illegality in connection with the financial crisis.”

President Obama’s nominee to run the TARP “warned against spending much more of the fund’s remaining $100 billion, telling a Senate panel Thursday that a cushion is needed in case of another financial crisis.”