The WonkLine: December 9, 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.


National Security

“Former president George H.W. Bush called Wednesday on the Senate to ratify a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia, adding his influential voice to a chorus of former officials backing the pact as it awaits a critical vote.”

“Violent protests, ignited by preliminary presidential election results that were widely considered suspect,” shut down Haiti yesterday.

Secret arms transfers to southern Sudan, “which will soon vote on secession, were revealed when Somali pirates found the weapons on a captured freighter.”


Last night, House lawmakers approved the DREAM Act — “a top priority of Democrats in both Congress and the White House” — by a tally of 216 to 198.

The DREAM Act will face a tough Senate vote later today, as “it’s unlikely Democrats can muster the 60 votes needed to advance it past opposition by Republicans and a handful of their own members.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that “the Supreme Court’s showdown over whether states can aggressively enforce laws against illegal immigrants may have ended in a draw Wednesday.”


The Senate removed more federal judges from office yesterday than it has confirmed in nearly three months.

Justice Elena Kagan’s recusal from a key case testing whether states can set 50 different immigration policies may lead to the Supreme Court splitting 4-4. In the event of a tie, the decision below (which upheld an Arizona law) stands, but the Supreme Court’s decision has no precedential value.

Turns out Minnesota voters would rather have an “erratic” recovering alcoholic as their governor than a crazy nullificationist.


“The public pins most of the blame for poor college graduation rates on students and their parents and gives a pass to colleges, government officials and others,” according to a a new Associated Press-Stanford University poll.

New York City’s rubber rooms mat be physically gone, but they linger on in practice.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) “has identified the next target in his campaign to draw attention to perceived abuses in for-profit higher education: the institutions’ large and growing share of financial aid for military service members and veterans.”

LGBT Equality

“Seventeen years after he led the fight in Congress against gays in the military, former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn says he thinks gays could serve openly without damaging the armed forces’ ability to fight.”

“While most military personnel see no problem serving with openly gay comrades, some military chaplains are bristling. Many of the 3,000 chaplains are evangelical and believe repealing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy may affect how they do their jobs.”

“The Senate postponed a planned Wednesday vote on repealing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law after Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the chief GOP negotiator, asked for a delay.”

Climate Change

Climate change is expected to cost Latin America 1 per cent of its GDP each year, according to a report published by The Economic Commission for Latin America.

A new study has concluded that California’s cap-and-trade system has neither damaged the state’s economy nor raised energy prices.

Julia Slingo, the U.K.’s Met Office Chief Scientist, said that “global warming continues to be very much a factual reality” during a seminar at Center for Climate Science at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Wednesday.

Health Care

“The deals that the White House cut with major industries during the health care debate are threatening to come back to haunt the administration once Republicans take control of the House.”

“The Senate — helped by a push from the White House — passed a one-year ‘doc-fix’ late Wednesday, preventing a 25 percent cut to Medicare payments that would kick in on Jan. 1.”

“Republicans should talk less about ‘death panels’ and more about cutting the overuse of expensive medical procedures, said a powerful GOP lawmaker who has the health industry in his sights.”


“An unusual split in the labor movement has developed over President Obama’s proposed free-trade pact with South Korea, with two powerful unions backing the deal,” the New York Times notes.

Both the working poor and public employees will be worse off under the tax deal President Obama negotiated with Congressional Republicans than they were this year.

Wall Street: Profiting off of homeowner distress.