The WonkLine: April 30, 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.




“Talks between the Treasury Department and lenders aimed at keeping Chrysler LLC out of bankruptcy broke down Wednesday, making it all but certain the car maker will file for Chapter 11 protection Thursday,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) “plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to give U.S. tax collectors more tools to police offshore tax evasion.” Tax evasion using offshore accounts “is said to cost the U.S. government $100 billion a year.”

Private student loan lenders that claim President Obama’s loan reforms will be a tax on the middle class are wrong, and their argument is “a sign of how far this conversation has gotten from students’ experiences and what policies are most likely to benefit them.”

National Security

British troops have officially ended their combat role in Iraq. “Since the 2003 invasion, 179 British service personnel have been killed there. In the southern city of Basra, the British military held a ceremony to honor those who died during the war.”

“At least 32 people were killed and 54 others injured in two days of fighting as rival political groups exchanged gunfire in Pakistan’s commercial capital of Karachi.”

Responding to North Korea’s threat to conduct another nuclear test, China said such a test was “hypothetical,” and it could not say how it would affect relations. “We hope that all sides will pay attention to the big picture and appropriately resolve the relevant problems,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

Health Care

Sixteen Democratic senators wrote a letter “expressing their support for a public insurance plan, urging key Senate committee chairmen not to abandon the option as they negotiate a health care overhaul bill.”

On Wednesday, Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) “unveiled a set of detailed recommendations intended to slow the growth of Medicare, hold doctors and hospitals more accountable, and improve the care of patients with chronic illnesses.” “After a six-hour meeting to discuss the proposals with members of both parties, Mr. Grassley said, “I did not find a lot of dissension.” Read more about the proposals here.

Tommy Thompson on why the Congressional Budget Office won’t capture all of the savings from health care reform.


E&E News notes that “as House Democrats work behind closed doors to shore up support on a major energy and climate bill, agriculture groups are pleading for major changes to make it more palatable in farm states.”

“Roughly 60 percent of Americans live in areas where air pollution has reached unhealthy levels that can make people sick,” says the 2009 State of the Air report released today by the American Lung Association.

CQ reports that “opponents of federal limits on greenhouse gases are launching ad campaigns in the districts of moderate Democrats negotiating a bill in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The radio ads, sponsored by the American Energy Alliance, are running in the districts of nine committee Democrats and one Republican.”