The WonkLine: May 12, 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

The Senate is looking at a variety of ways to pay for health care reform, including “new federal taxes on soda and other sugary drinks.” The CBO “estimated that adding a tax of three cents per 12-ounce serving” would generate $24 billion over the next four years.

Politico notes that “despite appearances of comity in the health care reform talks, a skirmish among interest groups on both sides of the issue played out on the TV airwaves over the past week.”


Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expressed skepticism about the health care industry’s ability to cut $2 trillion in costs over the next decade, releasing a statement “suggesting, in short, that he’ll believe it when he sees it.”


Goldman Sachs “has agreed to pay a $10 million fee and let some 714 Massachusetts homeowners rework their mortgages in a settlement reached as part of a state investigation into subprime lending.”

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism notes that credit default swap holders will likely force General Motors into bankruptcy.

Members of the Senate Banking Committee “have reached a compromise on a bill that would protect consumers from abusive credit card industry practices, increasing the likelihood that the Senate will pass it as early as this week.” Banks are making a last-ditch effort to kill some of the bill’s provisions.

National Security

General David D. McKiernan, the top American commander in Afghanistan, has been fired, and will be replaced with veteran Special Operations commander, Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. The Washington Times reports that “a court filing from the British Foreign Office released recently includes a letter from the U.S. government,” in which “the Obama administration says it may curtail Anglo-American intelligence sharing if the British High Court discloses new details of the treatment of a former Guantanamo detainee,” Binyam Mohamed. The American Prospect’s Adam Serwer responds to conservative outrage over comedian Wanda Sykes’ routine at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner by pointing out that conservatives compare progressives — including the president — to terrorists all the time.


Global warming is bad for your health — “making pollen seasons last longer, creating more ozone in the air, and even expanding the areas where insects flourish, putting more people with bee allergies at greater risk, experts say.”


Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) has been hosting lasagna dinners with “conservative Blue Dogs like Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) to meet with more liberal Democrats like Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA)” to negotiate green economy legislation in an informal setting.

“Congress could undermine the administration’s push to narrow the gap” in the budget by giving away pollution permits in a climate cap-and-trade system. “At least half the revenue that the administration is expecting is just not going to materialize,” says CAP fellow Daniel J. Weiss.