The WonkLine: March 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.


Free Exchange asks, “in the run up to the crisis, there was reckless behavior on the part of Citibank, Lehman and Bear — but is it fair to put [Bank of America] in that category?”

“Trying to draw a line in the sand,” the Senate banking committee “told the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve to identify all the parties made whole by the bailout of [AIG] or forget about coming back to ask Congress for more rescue money.”


FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair “has agreed to halve a new emergency fee on U.S. banks in exchange for Congress more than tripling the agency’s borrowing authority to tap federal aid if needed to replenish the deposit insurance fund.”

National Security

Setting up the prospect of its first face-to-face encounter with Iran, the Obama administration has proposed a major conference on Afghanistan that would include Iran among the invited countries.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Clinton called for Iran to release an Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi. “The Foreign Ministry said she had engaged in ‘illegal’ activities because she continued working in Iran after the government revoked her press credentials in 2006.”

President Obama will make his first overseas trip since taking office at the end of this month, visiting England, France, Germany and the Czech Republic, the White House said Thursday.

Health Care

Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), John McCain (R-AZ.) and Olympia Snowe (R-MN) “introduced a bill (S 525) that would allow the reimportation of lower-cost prescription drugs from other nations.”


The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted “to strengthen the Insure Oklahoma Program, which helps small businesses pay for the health insurance premiums for employees,” by a margin of 99 to 0. A day after the Supreme Court ruled that patients can sue drug makers in state courts, Democratic lawmakers “submitted legislation that would allow product liability suits in state courts by patients who say they were harmed by certain defective medical devices.”


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told youth leaders in Europe, “Certainly the United States has been negligent in living up to its responsibilities” on climate change and energy policy.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told reporters, “I think it’s unlikely we will pass a cap and trade bill with 100 percent auction,” despite President Obama’s plan to prevent windfall profits for polluters.

“We need to buy more time” by slowing down global warming, polar ice scientist Warwick Vincent warned, as recent data shows that the Arctic’s “sea ice cover in summer could vanish as early as 2013, decades earlier” than earlier predictions.