The WonkLine: May 1, 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.

Health Care

Scientists with the CDC “are working with vaccine makers to begin the process and in coming weeks make the call” regarding whether or not a swine flu vaccine should be “ramped up in time” for flu season this fall.

The Washington Post reports that “more than two dozen states, including Maryland, as well as the District, have not stocked enough of the emergency supplies of antiviral medications considered necessary to treat victims of swine flu.” A new device called T+ Medical could allow patients to stay in contact with caregivers outside of the hospital. Patients can use the system “to video conference with health-care professionals” or “relay vital signs to a nurse.”


“The Federal Reserve is postponing the release of stress tests on the biggest U.S. banks while executives debate preliminary findings with examiners.” One of the hold-ups is Citigroup’s assertion that “higher unemployment won’t lead to big credit card losses.”


The Ford Foundation is planning “to pump $50 million into a new nonprofit venture that will help municipalities buy foreclosed homes from financial institutions, in an effort to stem property-value declines plaguing U.S. neighborhoods.”

Census demographers are “busting the opt-out mom myth”: “Their finding — in contrast to media accounts but similar to some economists — is that most working women return to the work force a year after having a child.”

National Security

“Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged lawmakers yesterday to approve the Pentagon request for $400 million this year for the new Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, with an additional $700 million to be requested for 2010.” McClatchy notes that “Cuba made the State Department’s annual list of state sponsors of terrorism Thursday — but with tempered language that may reflect an Obama administration interested in improving relations with Havana.” “House intelligence committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes sent a letter this week to all CIA employees suggesting that Congress shared some blame for the CIA interrogation controversy and should play a more robust role in the intelligence policymaking process.”


Paul Krugman supports clean energy reform as economic stimulus: “A commitment to greenhouse gas reduction would, in the short-to-medium run, have the same economic effects as a major technological innovation.”


An industry-funded analysis of Obama’s green economy program finds that GDP grows by 72.06% by 2030 with a cap on pollution, versus 72.26% without the cap, while US oil demand drops by 604,000 to 2.15 million barrels per day annually.

Yesterday, “two prominent farm leaders expressed support for a carbon cap and trade system,” while Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said, “I’m much more inclined to just say ‘let’s just have a straight carbon tax,’ It’s simple, it’s straightforward, it’s understandable, it gets to the root of the problem.”