The WonkLine: January 3, 2011

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.



The New Jersey Supreme Court will decide whether Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) draconian education cuts violate the New Jersey state constitution.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) is nuts: “Garrett is part of a movement, cheered by the Tea Party and derided as ‘tenthers’ by critics, who argue that a strict reading of the Tenth Amendment prohibits much of what the federal government does every day.”

The RNC is asking the Supreme Court to shrink campaign finance law until it is small enough to be drowned in a bathtub.


Writing in the Washington Post, Education Secretary Arne Duncan says that “few areas are more suited for bipartisan action than education reform.”

“A circuit court judge sided with the Florida Legislature on Thursday in a lawsuit over who has authority to set tuition for the state’s 11 public universities,” the Associated Press reports.

Jeb Bush’s influence over education policy spreads beyond Florida.


According the Arizona Republic, a number of laid-off Arizonans have been calling immigration officials on their ex-employers.

South Carolina law enforcement officials “want to know how a proposed state immigration law would work, adding they are unsure they have the resources to enforce it.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that, amongst Mormons, there is a deep divide on immigration while the church itself tries to straddle the fence.


Bank of America tries to set up a defense against Wikileaks.

According to a new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll, “sixty-one percent of Americans said that increasing taxes to the wealthy should be the first step toward balancing the budget.”

House Republicans aim to defund the newly passed food-safety bill: “People often focus on the legislative process, when really this is just the beginning, not the end,” said Sandra Eskin, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Food Safety Campaign.

Climate Change

“On the campaign stump, in books, speeches and nationally-televised commercials, aspiring GOP White House candidates such as Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have warned in recent years about the threats from climate change and pledged to limit greenhouse gases,” Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn writes.

“The extent of flooding being experienced by Queensland is unprecedented and requires a national and united response,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.

Changes in Iowa’s weather patterns, landscape, cities and farms have rendered some of the state’s most trusted flood prevention safeguards outmoded and inadequate,” a review by The Des Moines Register shows.

National Security

“Pakistan’s civilian government faces a fight for survival after the withdrawal of a key coalition partner on Sunday left Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani unable to command a majority in parliament.”

“An anonymous group of students in Gaza has created a document to express their frustration born of Hamas’s violent crackdowns on ‘western decadence’, the destruction wreaked by Israel’s attacks and the political games played by Fatah and the UN.”

“South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has said the door is open to new dialogue with North Korea. However, the North should abandon its “military adventurism” first, he said.”

Health Care

“The Republican majority that takes over the House this week plans an ambitious drive to slash government spending by tens of billions of dollars in the next few months, a strategy that ensures that the capital soon will be consumed by intense debate over how and where to reduce the size of government.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) argued that “Republican efforts to repeal the healthcare law could actually open the door for a single-payer system favored by liberals.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is distancing himself from “a memo sent by his office that urged health reform advocates not to advertise new end-of-life counseling regulations to avoid reviving talk of ‘death panels.'”

LGBT Equality

“Gay-rights activists, acknowledging they will lose momentum for their agenda in Congress when Republicans assume control of the House this week, are pinning their hopes for further gains in 2011 on a series of incremental measures and a host of federal court cases.”

“Republican legislators in Wyoming are planning to reintroduce a defense of marriage law that would bar the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.”

“The U.S. Navy has launched an investigation into a how a series of raunchy, and often anti-gay, videos were produced and then shown to a crew of nearly 6,000 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise while on deployment supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”