The WonkLine: May 20, 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.


“U.S. lawmakers began wrangling on Tuesday over a climate change bill aimed at reducing carbon dioxide and other pollutants,” passing amendments to create a “clean energy bank” and a “cash for clunkers” program.

Politico: “Republican staffers for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works say Republicans should argue that Democrats are embracing . . . ‘corporate America’” on climate change policy.


“Global warming’s effects this century could be twice as extreme as estimated just six years ago,” MIT scientists reported, finding “Earth’s median surface temperature could rise 9.3 degrees F (5.2 degrees C) by 2100.”


In order to “crack down on abuses exposed by the financial crisis,” the Obama administration “is considering creation of a regulatory commission to protect consumers of financial products such as credit cards and mortgages.”

The Federal Reserve announced yesterday “that approval for big banks seeking to repay bailout money could start in early June.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest survey of consumer expenditure “found that the poorest fifth of America’s households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.”

Health Care

A new Commonwealth Fund survey finds that elderly Medicare beneficiaries have higher “overall satisfaction with their health coverage, better access to care, and fewer problems paying medical bills than people covered by employer-sponsored plans.”


Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is discussing a compromise on health care reform legislation that would include a “fallback public plan,” implemented in several years if private insurers do not take steps to make coverage more affordable and accessible.

The New York Times reports that “hospital room design can help reduce medical errors, infections and falls, as well as patient stress.”

National Security

The New York Times reports that U.S.-issued weapons and ammunition have been found among captured Taliban arms. Analysts worry that “poor discipline and outright corruption among Afghan forces may have helped insurgents stay supplied.” Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “claimed today that Iran has successfully test fired a new medium-range missile capable of striking as far as Israel or southern Europe.” The Washington Times reports that the U.S. and Israel are “forming a high-level working group to assess the progress of President Obama’s outreach to Iran and to share intelligence about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program, officials familiar with the two countries’ deliberations said Tuesday.”