The WonkLine: January 4, 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.



Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) plans to reach out to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to craft a bipartisan immigration reform bill in the next Congress, though it’s not clear that Graham will want to work with him.

Arizona’s new Attorney General Tom Horne (R) says he’ll help defend SB-1070, while his predecessor — Democrat Terry Goddard — thought it was “misguided.”

Arizona politicians will soon be introducing model legislation that “reinterprets” the 14th amendment’s citizenship clause and aims to prompt other states to prevent the children of undocumented immigrants from becoming citizens.


A perfect storm of funding cuts, low interest rates and Scrooge-like policymakers is wholopping legal services programs for the poor.

Chief Justice Roberts will swear in incoming Speaker John Boehner’s congressional staffers. For the record, the Chief Justice typically swears in the President of the United States, not a Member of Congress’ political aides.

Iowa’s incoming Republican governor opposes an anti-gay effort to impeach four Iowa Supreme Court justices.

National Security

“The governor of Pakistan’s largest province — a sharp-tongued supporter of embattled President Asif Ali Zardari and an outspoken critic of religious extremists — was assassinated Tuesday at a genteel market in the nation’s capital, allegedly by one of his own security guards.”

“Iran has confirmed that it has invited foreign diplomats to tour its nuclear facilities, but apparently did not include any from the United States.”

“Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says he is prepared to assist southern Sudan if the region votes for independence on Sunday as expected.”


Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said yesterday that “the five largest loan servicers, including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., may be the first to settle with the 50 state attorneys general probing foreclosure practices.”

Holly Petraeus, the wife of American general David Petraeus, is reportedly going to be named to a senior post within the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where she will be “tasked with protecting military families from predatory lenders.”

More than 1.5 million Americans declared bankruptcy last year, a nine percent increase from 2009.

Climate Change

“The death toll from landslides and floods in the Philippines has climbed to 18 as more areas are submerged by torrential downpours,” with at least two other people missing, as the Australian dollar fell on flooding in resources-rich Queensland

“One of three law firms appointed by Ken Feinberg last week to advise people filing damage claims through the Gulf Coast Claims Facility has been working for BP since at least June,” according to contracts obtained by the Press-Register.

“The price of crude oil rose Monday to a 27-month high” of $91.55 a barrel “on speculation the United States will sustain an economic recovery this year, bolstering fuel demand in the world’s biggest oil-consuming country.”


Contrary to Republican claims, “U.S. Education Department officials did not engage in illegal lobbying in 2009 when they encouraged higher education leaders to publicly endorse legislation that overhauled the student loan programs,” according to the agency’s inspector general.

An Arkansas groups is pushing to overturn a ruling by the state Attorney General that allows universities to ban handguns on campus.

New Education Department data shows that 15.6 percent of community college students default on federal loans, which is “considerably higher than the default rate for four-year, private, nonprofit institutions (5.6 percent) and four-year public colleges (6.3 percent).”

Health Care

“Eager to show who’s now in charge, the House’s new Republican majority plans to vote to repeal President Barack Obama’s landmark health care overhaul before he even shows up in their chamber to give his State of the Union address.”

“As one of his first acts in office, California’s new insurance commissioner says he’ll back the national health care reform law by proposing emergency legislation to ramp up enforcement.”

“Already facing burgeoning health care plan costs, employers say the health care reform law will increase them even more, according to a survey released today.”

LGBT Equality

“The Navy officer behind a series of videos featuring simulated sex and antigay slurs will be temporarily relieved of duty as early as Tuesday, Navy sources told NBC News on Monday.”

“A poll shows that President Barack Obama held a higher job approval rating among the LGBT community than the public at large last fall even before ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal was passed and signed into law.”

“A teenage activist has notified officials at every school in Arizona that they need to put a stop to bullying of gay and lesbian students or face a lawsuit.”