The WonkLine: March 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, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Health Care

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) said energy taxes is an “option” for funding healthcare reform. But according to health policy analyst Robert Laszewski, “that would be a bad idea — a really bad idea.”

Can Health Care Czar Nancy-Ann DeParle “avoid conflicts of interest, given the size and market share of some of the firms she has worked for?”


“A collection of health care groups calling itself the Health Reform Dialogue issued a set of recommendations” on Friday. “But the group sidestepped the thorniest issues,” such as “whether a government-run health plan should be available to compete with private companies.”


“In 2007, Americans 55 and older accounted for 23 percent of the more than one million Americans who filed for bankruptcy, a threefold increase from 1991”; bankruptcy rates more than quadrupled for seniors ages 75 to 84.

The LA Times reports that “it has become clear that AIG’s problems extend across most of its business lines,” instead of being confined to its financial products division.

According to The Choice, “the recession appears to have had little impact on the number of applications received by many of the nation’s most competitive colleges, or on an applicant’s overall chances of being admitted to them.”


Joining Newt Gingrich, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), and the Institute for Energy Research in arguing that climate legislation is an energy tax, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) said: “You’re essentially raising $645 billion in taxes from parts of the country that are carbon intensive and sharing it with the rest of the country. And I just don’t think that’s fair.”


Matthew Wald claims “increasing the nation’s reliance on renewable energy will in itself raise costs,” citing only industry executives.

David Sassoon explains that, in a profile of climate skeptic Freeman Dyson that repeats the global cooling myth, “much has been left out in order to magnify a false conflict that would play well on the cover of the magazine.”

National Security

The United States deployed two missile-interceptor ships from South Korea on Monday, a military spokesman said, days ahead of a North Korean rocket launch widely seen as a long-range missile test that violates U.N. sanctions.

Violent weekend clashes in Baghdad involving Iraqi soldiers, U.S. forces and a Sunni Arab Awakening Council foreshadow challenges ahead, analysts say. Witnesses said the violence began Saturday after Iraqi and U.S. troops arrested an Awakening leader in Baghdad’s Fadhil neighborhood.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has warned that corruption among American officials may be making it harder to deal with drug-trafficking between Mexico and the US.