The WonkLine: January 28, 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.


National Security

“After days of protests in the Arab world that have toppled one president and shaken many others, thousands of demonstrators calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak poured from mosques in Cairo after noon prayers on Friday, clashing with police who fired tear-gas, rubber-bullets and water-cannons.”

“The current unrest in the Middle East spread to impoverished Yemen on Thursday as tens of thousands of protesters angry over unemployment and political oppression marched in the capital against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.”

“Violent protests erupted in a Shiite neighborhood [in Baghdad] Thursday after a powerful car bomb ripped through a funeral ceremony.”

Health Care

“Months after they hammered Democrats for cutting Medicare, House Republicans are debating whether to relaunch their quest to privatize the health program for seniors.”

A new report on the impact of the health care reform law shows that “individuals and families purchasing coverage through the exchanges in 2014 will save 14-20 percent over what coverage would cost them if the law had never been enacted.”

National Nurses United is sharply criticizing the Obama administration for a decision Tuesday to withdraw a rule requiring employers to report musculoskeletal injuries to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


President Obama renominated labor attorney Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, sending the big business lobby into a new round of apoplexy.

Freshman Sen. Mike “noun, verb, unconstitutional” Lee (R-UT) has pledged to filibuster any attempt to increase the country’s debt limit.

In more signs that the American auto industry is coming back to life, General Motors withdrew an application for $14.4 billion in federal loans, saying it has enough cash to cover desired investments itself, while Ford reported its largest profit in 11 years.


Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and David Vitter R-LA) are introduced a resolution that would amend the Constitution so that the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants cannot become U.S. citizens.

Arizona Republicans introduced legislation yesterday seeking to challenge the right to U.S. citizenship for children born in the state whose parents are undocumented immigrants.

Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) signaled support for an Arizona-style immigration law, saying “that if you’re in our country and you do something illegally, you should be able to be asked just like I get asked for my ID.”

LGBT Equality

Harps grocery store in Arkansas “wrapped the cover of Us magazine featuring [Elton John], his husband David Furnish and their 1-month-old baby Zachary Jackson Levi Furnish,” to protect young shoppers, according to the store.

Evangelist preacher Ted Haggard, who was caught with a male prostitute and methamphetamine, said in a recent interview, “I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual.”

Bobby Harris, “the director of a homeless shelter in Columbus, Ga., refuses to budge on his opposition to serving gay and lesbian people.”

Climate Change

“The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that new Tea Party Governor Susana Martinez “violated the state constitution when she prevented New Mexico’s democratically-approved rule reducing carbon pollution from being published as codified state law.”

“Australia’s Queensland state, recovering from the nation’s worst flood disaster, is bracing for a cyclone expected to hit its northeastern coast within three days, threatening more damage to stricken coal mines” and battered residents.

“A North Atlantic current flowing into the Arctic Ocean is warmer than for at least 2,000 years in a sign that global warming is likely to bring ice-free seas around the North Pole in summers,” a study showed.


Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said that teachers need better information “about how their practices affect student learning.” “You can’t fly blind,” he said.

Administrators in Houston are taking a “hard look” at a bonus system that rewards 92 percent of teachers.

A lack of technological infrastructure is hurting northern Idaho as the state calls for more online classes.


Justice Sonia Sotomayor told a Kansas audience that “We can’t live in a society where the poorest children are the poorest educated.” Sadly, a 5-4 Supreme Court disagreed with her forty years ago.

After agreeing to a handful of very minor changes to the Senate rules, the Senate leadership agreed to kill filibuster reform for the next four years.

Senate Democrats plan to make addressing the judicial vacancy crisis one of their first priorities in the new Congress. Yet the GOP has already started invoking delay tactics.