The WonkLine: December 2, 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.



Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said yesterday that “Senate Republicans will filibuster any bill that doesn’t extend Bush-era tax cuts to all income groups.”

Federal Reserve officials “are pressing lawmakers to pair a long-term plan for deficit reduction with new short-term fiscal stimulus to boost an economy that the central bank admits needs more help than it can provide.”

The Federal Reserve yesterday released lending data from the height of the financial crisis, showing how much banks both here and abroad depended on low-interest loans from the central bank.


A Utah Valley University student was arrested Tuesday at Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) Salt Lake City office while demonstrating in support of the DREAM Act.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) has teamed up with former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) to restore the Republican Party’s standing in the Latino community.

Prince William County resident John Gray plans to challenge incumbent county board Chairman Corey Stewart (R) next year, focusing his efforts on countering Stewart’s hard line stance on immigration.


A Texas judge appears poised to declare the death penalty unconstitutional in his state. Sadly, this decision is unlikely to withstand appeal, as it would be reviewed by a presiding judge infamous for manipulating the court’s rules to kill more offenders.

There could be five votes on the Supreme Court willing to remedy a California prison overcrowding crisis which led to one inmate dying every week due to “grossly deficient” health care.

Transgender golfers will soon be welcome in the LPGA.


States are pushing ahead with the Race to the Top program, “despite some of them having seen individual schools and districts back out of the process because of concerns over the time and money required to make those plans a reality.”

The Answer Sheet looks at whether Florida’s public schools progress is exaggerated.

Florida Atlantic University is seeking to open the nation’s first for-profit medical school with the ability to issue MD’s.

LGBT Equality

“Republicans opposed to ending the U.S. military’s ban on gays and lesbians serving openly may seize on a Pentagon study’s finding that members of combat units and Marines were most likely to say it would have negative results.”

“Even as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal advocates scramble to line up the votes to beat a GOP filibuster of the National Defense Authorization Act, whispers of trying to attach a repeal measure to another piece of legislation are beginning to circulate.”

“A physician with experience caring for armed forces personnel says the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy puts both service members and the general public at risk by encouraging secrecy about sexual health issues.”

Climate Change

Jason Mark profiles the young leaders of the climate movement, from 350.org to Rainforest Action Network.

“An intense months-long drought through November drained the mighty Negro River — a tributary of the Amazon — to its lowest since records began in 1902, drying up the network of water that is the lifeblood of Brazil’s huge Amazonas state,” just five years after another severe Amazon drought, and one year after massive floods in the region killed dozens and made hundreds of thousands homeless.

“House Republicans plan to eliminate the global warming committee created by Democrats despite an attempt by the panel’s top Republican to preserve it.”

National Security

“As the United States and South Korea ended four days of joint naval exercises off the North Korean coast, the South’s intelligence chief on Wednesday warned that the North was likely to repeat a Nov. 23 artillery attack.”

“Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin responded Wednesday to criticism of Russia revealed in United States diplomatic cables published by the Web site WikiLeaks, warning Washington not to interfere in Russian domestic affairs.”

“The leader of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said Wednesday for the first time that any resolution of the Palestinian dispute with Israel should be put to a referendum of all Palestinians around the world, and that if one were held, Hamas would accept the results no matter what they were.”

Health Care

“To pay for health reform the President signed a bill that cuts Medicare spending by $455 billion. Now the deficit commission that he assembled is calling for another round of surgery.”

“Premiums for employer-sponsored family health insurance increased an average of 41 percent across states from 2003 to 2009.”

“The drug industry’s chief lobbyists – the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America – raised and spent at least $101.2 million in 2009 on advocacy efforts during the contentious health care debate, according to IRS documents the group filed in mid-November.”