The WonkLine: March 10, 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.


The EPA has asked the “163 utilities that manage an estimated 300 ash ponds” to report on any past spills and “will propose regulations for coal ash by the end of the year.”

DCCC political director Brian Wolff is leaving to direct the lobbying efforts of the Edison Electric Institute — as Clean Air Action’s Frank O’Donnell told the National Journal, “the goals of his new employer are going to be largely to undercut the goals of his former employer.”


Billionaire Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, and Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers are criticizing President Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade system that turns polluter revenues into a middle class tax cut as a “regressive tax.”

National Security

China said today that a U.S. Navy ship involved in a confrontation with its fleet off the southern island of Hainan had violated international and Chinese laws. Washington had urged China to observe international maritime rules after the Pentagon said five Chinese ships harassed the USNS Impeccable in international waters on Sunday.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned NATO that terror groups are using Afghanistan and Pakistan as staging areas to plot new attacks against allied interests around the world.

Pakistan, Iran and Turkey have agreed to run a container rail linking Islamabad, Tehran and Istanbul, said Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.


According to a new report, “one of every 50 American children experiences homelessness,” and “most states have inadequate plans to address the worsening and often-overlooked problem.”


In their latest financial reports, Citibank, Bank of America, HSBC, Wells Fargo, and J.P. Morgan Chase said that their net loss risks from derivatives “surged to $587 billion,” a jump of 49 percent in just 90 days.

President Obama “will outline an education plan today that includes proposals to set more rigorous standards in schools and institute a merit-based pay system for teachers.”

Health Care

Forty-eight percent of Health IT professionals don’t think that the health IT provisions of the economic stimulus law will reduce health costs, even if they’re implemented as the Congress meant for them to be.”

In an interview with CSPAN, the president of PhRMA urged Republican lawmakers to recognize that their “own constituencies….don’t want battle lines drawn and mine fields set up so [health care reform] can’t happen this year.”

During a conversation about pending health care reform legislation, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has proposed a controversial health care plan that does away with the employer system, was quick to say: “My name won’t be on it.”