The WonkLine: December 8, 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, our dear friend and colleague Elizabeth Edwards passed away, after waging a courageous struggle against breast cancer. With her trademark courage, activism, and strong sense of justice, Elizabeth directly confronted the inequalities of the American health care system and the politicians who perpetuated them. Writing on The Wonk Room in 2008, Elizabeth — who was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress — challenged conservatives for releasing a health care plan that would have excluded millions of Americans who suffered from pre-existing or chronic conditions. “Why are people like me left out of your health care proposal,” Elizabeth asked. Through congressional testimonies, public speeches, blog posts, and countless television appearances, Elizabeth emphasized the human and moral dimension of the health care debate. We’ll miss her greatly, but we won’t forget her wonderful legacy.


Health Care

“The Senate majority and minority leaders and the chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee introduced legislation that would extend a fix to the Medicare physician payment formula through 2011.”

“While most discussion of the new healthcare reform law has focused on insurance coverage, the law provides a ‘serious platform’ to improving the quality of care.”

“Anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List has signed on as a co-sponsor of the upcoming debate between candidates running for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.”


The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to an Arizona law that revokes the licenses of companies that hire undocumented workers today.

Both the House and the Senate are expected to vote on the DREAM Act later today.

Actress Salma Hayek told a Spanish magazine that she initially entered the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant, saying “It was for a small period of time, but I still did it.”


The Chamber of Commerce thinks there’s nothing wrong with firing someone’s fiancé to retaliate against them when they bring a civil rights action against their employer.

Meet “Hang ‘Em High Henry,” the GOP activist, anti-pornography crusader, former talk radio host, investor in GOP campaign firms and, now, the federal judge considered most likely to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

Former Sen. George “Macaca” Allen (R-VA) jumps on the nullification bandwagon.


The Government Accountability Office “has revised portions of a report it released last summer on recruiting practices in for-profit higher education,” but is “still standing by its central finding that colleges had encouraged fraud and misled potential applicants.”

Bank of America has agreed to pay $137 million to settle fraud allegations in several states, and “in at least some of the states involved, the settlement money will be going back to school districts.”

Does President Obama’s tax deal end hope for addressing the Pell Grant shortfall?

LGBT Equality

“Senate majority leader Harry Reid may bring to a vote on Wednesday the National Defense Authorization Act with “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal attached, according to a Senate Democratic aide.”

“Groups seeking an end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ are planning a Capitol Hill protest on Friday to demand that lawmakers consider repeal of the military’s gay ban before the year is out.”

“The Rev Jesse Jackson has called for California’s ban on gay marriage to be struck down. The Baptist minister and civil rights activist spoke at a gathering outside the San Francisco appeals court where the latest hearings on the ban are taking place.”

Climate Change

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear American Electric Power v. Connecticut, a case which considers whether states can regulate greenhouse gases as a public nuisance under federal common law.

Despite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s skepticism about climate change, New Jersey environmental groups are hosting a panel discussion with Rutgers climate experts in Trenton.

Glaciers have grown in western Norway, New Zealand’s South Island, parts of Asia and the Tierra del Fuego in South America, according to a new United Nations, but “overall ice and snow on mountains has been retreating since the industrial age, according to scientists from around the world.”

National Security

“Several nations have indicated they will not attend the upcoming Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Norway as China protests the fact that the award honors an imprisoned Chinese dissident.”

“Indian authorities have appealed for calm and sounded a nationwide alert following a bomb attack in the Hindu holy city, Varanasi, which killed a child and injured 37 other people, including foreign tourists.”

“Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff lashed out at China on Wednesday for failing to intervene diplomatically with North Korea, as he met with his South Korean counterpart to discuss possible armed responses to future provocations from Pyongyang.”


The benefits of President Obama’s tax deal with Congressional Republicans “will flow most heavily to the highest earners, just as the original [Bush tax] cuts did when they were passed in 2001 and 2003. At least a quarter of the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 1 percent of the population.”

The Republican Steering Committee has formally endorsed Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) to be the next chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

“Fifteen states are facing combined budget gaps midway through their 2011 fiscal year totaling $26.7 billion,” according to a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.