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Barack Obama leaves the country for the first time as President. We hear about free trade, troops in Afghanistan and environmental protection from the US and Canadian points of view.  Also, California’s budget madness sort of comes to a close, and and a debate that’s not happening in Washington on single-payer healthcare.

Banner image: US President Barack Obama (L) speaks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Making News California Budget Madness Comes to a Close, Kinda Sorta 6 MIN, 8 SEC

California finally has a budget…or does it? After months of debate and a week of all-night sessions, agreement on $40 billion in spending cuts, tax increases and borrowing came early this morning in Sacramento. Democrats have huge majorities in the Assembly and Senate, but not the two-thirds the budget requires. Senator Abel Maldonado provided the final Republican vote. Evan Halper is Sacramento Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times.

Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times (@evanhalper)

The Cure

David Gratzer

Main Topic Obama Visits Canada 27 MIN, 42 SEC

On his first trip to another country as President, Barack Obama is spending a few hours in Canada, America’s biggest trading partner. He’ll hold a news conference with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but he won’t address Parliament or the Canadian public. Canadians are sorry he’s not staying longer, because there’s a lot to talk about, starting with that “Buy American” provision in the stimulus package. Presidential candidate Obama talked about re-visiting NAFTA, and Canadians are worried about protectionism. As President, Obama is focused on the move to pull Canadian troops out of Afghanistan, and the environmental effects of extracting oil from Canadian shale. We hear about those issues from the US and Canadian points of view.

L. Ian MacDonald, former Head of Public Affairs, Canadian Embassy in the US
Stephen Clarkson, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Toronto
Jonathan Riskind, Washington Bureau Chief, Columbus Dispatch
Michael Taube, former speechwriter, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Does North America Exist?

Stephen Clarkson

Reporter's Notebook Canada's Single-payer Health System 15 MIN, 6 SEC

The major players in Washington’s healthcare debate -- businesses, hospitals, doctors, labor unions, insurance companies and the members of Congress – have agreed that a “single-payer” system is “off the table.” That’s infuriated many Americans. Presidential candidate Barack Obama campaigned for “universal healthcare,” calling for unprecedented government intervention while preserving the employer-based insurance system. Obama’s visit to Canada provides the occasion for a debate that’s not happening in Washington on a so-called “single payer” system like those in Europe and Canada.

Noam Levey, Los Angeles Times (@NoamLevey )
Alan Cassels, health policy researcher, University of Victoria
David Gratzer, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute

Selling Sickness

Alan Cassels and Ray Moynihan

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