The WonkLine: December 7, 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.



Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the DREAM Act, setting the stage for a vote as early as Wednesday morning.

Former Bush aide Michael Gerson writes that opponents of the DREAM Act “don’t want earned citizenship for any illegal immigrant – even those personally guilty of no crime, even those who demonstrate their skills.”

The Hill notes that census data shows that without immigrants and Latinos, “the number of young people in America would have declined.”

Health Care

“Senate leaders have reached a tentative, one-year deal on the Medicare ‘doc-fix,’ sources close to the negotiations say.”

“The Obama Administration has quietly granted even more waivers to the new federal health reform law, doubling the number in just the last three weeks to a new total of 222.”

“Rep. Michele Bachmann threatened an ‘insurrection‘ against the GOP leadership if there isn’t a full repeal of health care reform in 2011. And she’s urging the GOP not to replace health care reform.”


Early reports from yesterday’s Prop 8 hearing suggest that good news is coming for marriage equality.

The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to hear two more cases that could significantly expand corporate America’s ability to act without accountability. The First is a massive gender discrimination case against Wal-Mart, the second could determine whether there are any checks on polluters during conservative administrations.

Ginni Thomas is “probably” the queen of understatement.


Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee launched a new organization yesterday — StudentsFirst — that plans to spend $1 billion “bringing her aggressive brand of education reform to the national stage.”

According to the latest results from the Program for International Student Assessment, the U.S. lags significantly behind several countries in Europe and Asia in reading, science, and math.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is trying to blame New Jersey’s loss of a federal grant for charter schools on his predecessor.

LGBT Equality

“Add Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) to the list of Democrats who say the Senate should stay open long enough to give Republicans the time they require to bring the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers to an end.”

“With the clock ticking down to the end of the 111th Congress, Defense Secretary Robert Gates today said he is not banking on lawmakers succeeding this year in repealing the 1993 law banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.”

“Despite increased gloominess among advocates for repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the White House is insisting that Congress will have time to take up the issue before it adjourns for the year.”

Climate Change

Climate negotiators are looking for ways to reward the 1.5 billion people who live in the 500 million small-farmer households around the world for joining the fight against global warming.

“Mexico’s deft hosting of U.N. climate talks is raising the stakes for nations with hard-line positions — such as Japan and Bolivia — since they risk getting more blame if the meeting fails,” analysts say.

China on Monday offered for the first time to submit its voluntary carbon emissions target to a binding U.N. resolution,” buoying the negotiations, though India’s environment minister says delays in payments to the global climate fund “could wreck the prospects for advancing a global deal.”

National Security

“The United States and other world powers pressed Iran on Monday to assuage international fears that it intended to build a nuclear bomb.”

“In a sign of mounting tension between the United States and China over North Korea, President Obama telephoned President Hu Jintao and warned that China was emboldening its unruly neighbor by not publicly challenging its behavior.”

“Authorities in London have arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on an arrest warrant issued by Sweden. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden about allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. He denies the claims.”


The Treasury Department has sold off the last of its stake in Citigroup, and taxpayers ultimately “will reap a profit of $12 billion on their $45 billion cash investment in Citi.”

“US regulators are pressing for strict definitions of proprietary trading activities to be banned under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law in a move that could anger bankers and some of their toughest critics,” the Financial Times reports.

According to a report issued Tuesday by Experian,the percentage of auto loans going to subprime buyers “rose 8 percent in the third quarter, their first year-over-year increase since 2007.”