The Wonkline: June 1, 2009

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Yesterday, a federal bankruptcy judge “approved the sale of most of Chrysler’s assets to Italy’s Fiat, moving the American automaker a step closer to its goal of a quick exit from court protection.”

Roll Call reports that “key Democratic lawmakers are skeptical of a new White House effort to create a powerful banking regulator and don’t want to sidetrack their own financial sector proposals.”

Today, 46 states and Washington, DC “will announce an effort to craft a single vision for what children should learn each year from kindergarten through high school graduation, an unprecedented step toward a uniform definition of success in American schools.”

National Security

Defense Secretary Gates “said there is evidence North Korea has begun work on another long-range Taepodong-2 missile, but that it remained unclear whether Pyongyang was preparing to launch the rocket any time soon.”

An editorial in Israel’s Haaretz writes that P.M. Netanyahu’s support for settlements and refusal to endorse a Palestinian state “pits Israel against the American government — a serious and unneeded conflict that comes precisely when Israel is counting on U.S. support.”

Reuters reports that “Pakistani forces consolidated their hold on the main town in the Swat valley on Sunday and began trucking supplies to 40,000 civilians stranded there, as fighting flared in South Waziristan on the Afghan border.”


The United States accounts for “29 percent of the world’s total” of greenhouse gas emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution, over three times the amount of China.

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern tells Reuters, “I don’t think you are going to see a 25-to-40 percent aggregate number” for cuts by rich nations below 1990 levels by 2020, despite the warnings from scientists that anything less puts the world at high risk for global catastrophe.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he agreed with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) “that calculations of the carbon footprint of ethanol should not include ‘indirect land use,'” although failing to do so “could lead to massive deforestation and higher costs for limiting carbon emissions.”

Health Care

POLITICO lays out the counters of the health care debate. “If Congress were to take a vote on a health reform bill today, Democrats and Republicans would find a surprising level of agreement — so much so that the broad outlines of a consensus plan already are taking shape,” Carrie Buddoff Brown writes.

The hospital industry is mobilizing “to prevent Congress from including charity care requirements in legislation to overhaul the health care system.” “Under the proposal described by the Finance Committee, tax-exempt hospitals could not refuse service because of a patient’s inability to pay, and they would have to follow certain procedures before taking collection actions against patients,” the New York Times explains.

USA Today’s Susan Page with the hurdles facing health care reform.