The WonkLine: November 18, 2010

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 a.m. roundup of the latest public policy news. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.



Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke yesterday “defended his expansion of record monetary stimulus in a meeting with Senators as top Republican lawmakers stepped up their criticism of the central bank chief’s policies.”

“American taxpayers’ ownership of General Motors was halved on Wednesday, and billions of dollars in bailout money was returned to the federal government,” as a result of GM’s initial stock offering.

The Federal Reserve is planning another round of stress tests for the nation’s 19 largest banks, “the latest indication federal regulators are seeking to toughen oversight of the nation’s biggest financial institutions.”

Climate Change

Climate legislation has “been dead for the last year,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) told reporters. “And it’ll be dead probably for the next four or five years. It’s just who’s in charge.”

“Four scientists from Rutgers and Princeton Universities have asked Gov. Chris Christie [R-NJ] to join them for a climate lesson,” in response to comments Christie made during a town-hall meeting last Wednesday in which he said he was “skeptical” about whether humans were influencing global warming.

Tundra fires are increasing, freak November-night thunderstorms hit Washington DC, a tornado hit Albany, and Nigeria and Cornwall, England is flooded.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed yesterday to move the DREAM Act to the floor during the lame-duck session.

Following an anonymous tip to the college newspaper, Cal State Fresno Student Body President Pedro Ramirez was forced to publicly reveal that he is an undocumented immigrant — sparking a debate throughout campus.

A committee of Georgia state lawmakers blasted the state Board of Regents for not going far enough when it barred undocumented immigrants from five state universities and requiring the verification of immigration status of students next fall.

National Security

John Podesta writes, “Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) must recognize that most Republicans have little interest in killing the [START] treaty.”

“The first former Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in federal criminal court was found guilty on a single conspiracy charge Wednesday but cleared on 284 other counts.”

The New York Times editorializes, “The world’s nuclear wannabes, starting with Iran, should send a thank you note to Senator Jon Kyl.”

Health Care

“Americans tend to have the least confidence that their [health] system will provide them the most-effective care compared to residents of 10 other industrialized nations, a Commonwealth Fund survey has found.”

“Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), has asked the Government Accountability Office to study alternatives to the controversial mandate requiring most Americans to obtain coverage.”

“The latest entry in the deficit reduction sweepstakes from the Bipartisan Policy Center calls for a major overhaul of Medicare financing that would turn most of the program over to the private insurance industry and cap government support.”

LGBT Equality

“Harvard University’s president on Wednesday invited the U.S. military to restore a training program at the college once a ban on gays serving openly is lifted.”

“Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who was named the winner yesterday (by the AP) in her write-in reelection Senate campaign over Tea Party candidate Joe Miller, won’t give her positions on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ or the DREAM Act.”

“A federal appeals court Wednesday authorized the televising of a Dec. 6 hearing on whether Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage, should be struck down.”


The Department of Education is considering rules reining in higher education programs “that leave students with big debts and little prospect of gainful employment.”

“The dismal economic climate may well represent a ‘new normal’ for schools.”

Four student loan “providers had agreed to pay $57.8 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit that accused them of abusing a loophole in federal law to derive hundreds of millions of dollars in excess federal subsidies.”


The Senate may need to hold weekend sessions to confirm long-stalled nominees who have previously been blocked by unprecedented GOP obstructionism.

The delayed nominees include four “controverisial” judicial nomines who Majority Leader Reid has now indicated he will hold votes on.

Tea Party rhetoic has Confederate roots.