The WonkLine: May 6, 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.

National Security

Jailed U.S. reporter Roxana Saberi has ended a two-week hunger strike, according to her father Reza Saberi. She started the fast on April 21 to protest against an eight-year jail sentence for spying. An Iranian appeals court is expected to hear her case on May 12.

Peter Beinart writes that “sooner or later, America and Israel will have to start dealing with a Palestinian government that includes [Hamas]…because it’s our best shot at getting terrorists out of the terrorism business.”


“The International Committee of the Red Cross says U.S.-led coalition warplanes killed dozens of civilians in western Afghanistan earlier this week.” A spokeswoman said that an ICRC team in Farah province “found the bodies of women and children among those killed.”


Regulators “are moving to impose tough conditions on banks that want to repay federal bail-out funds, requiring them to prove that they can issue debt without government insurance.”

South Carolina’s Supreme Court “issued an order Tuesday temporarily barring foreclosures on thousands of homeowners who may qualify for loan modifications under the Obama administration’s foreclosure-prevention program.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) is reportedly “wooing Sen. Arlen Specter back to the pro-union side on the stalled Employee Free Choice Act.” “[Specter’s] staff and my staff have been working diligently over the last several days to get everything ready” for a final negotiation, Harkin said.

Health Care

In an interview with The Hill, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recounts how Baucus and Conrad “explaining to me the distress — and I saw it in their face[s] — that they had when they were trying to talk [to] Rahm Emanuel about forgetting about reconciliation.”


Insurance companies offered “to end the practice of charging higher premiums to women than to men for the same coverage.” During a hearing yesterday, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said that “the disparity between women and men in the individual insurance market is just plain wrong, and it has to change.”

“In this recession, the first health line item that Americans are eliminating from their budgets is visits to physicians.”


“President Obama and Vice President Biden urged a group of House Democrats at a White House meeting” Tuesday to move forward with a “broad energy and climate change proposal” as coal, steel, auto, and refining sector representatives balk.

Grist asked Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) during a press conference after a GOP mock climate hearing yesterday what he would say to business leaders who argue that a climate bill is needed: “I don’t want to confirm that business leaders are asking for a cap,” he replied.

The Obama administration on Tuesday “proposed rules to limit emissions of climate-changing gases from the manufacture of ethanol.”