The WonkLine: February 1, 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

“In a test of wills that seemed to be approaching a critical juncture, more than 100,000 people crammed into Cairo’s vast Tahrir Square on Tuesday, seeking to muster a million protesters demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.”

The Obama administration “appeared Monday to have settled on a public and private course of action that officials hope will lead to President Hosni Mubarak’s departure from office sooner rather than later.”

“New American intelligence assessments have concluded that Pakistan has steadily expanded its nuclear arsenal since President Obama came to office.”

Health Care

“A Florida federal court ruling against the health care law gave renewed life Monday to Republican efforts to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement — a campaign stalled by the Democratic-controlled Senate.”

“A federal court in Florida may have ruled the health reform law unconstitutional — but you wouldn’t know it from the constant buzz of activity in the 26 states that brought suit against the federal overhaul.”

“Insurance giant Aetna has pulled out of the individual market in Colorado, according to documents obtained by POLITICO.”


Oil prices cleared $100 per barrel for the first time in two years yesterday.

“In the fourth quarter of 2010, 66.5% of Americans owned homes, down from 67.2% a year earlier and the lowest rate since the end of 1998,” according to new data from the Census Bureau.

State tax revenue increased by 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter, which is the fastest rate in nearly five years, according to a report by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.


According to the Migration Policy Institute, the 287(g) program’s deputization of immigration law caused the Latino population to plummet in many places across the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called on public officials to stop exaggerating the violence on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico and “be honest with the people we serve.”

Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) directed state police to start asking about the immigration status of people arrested for crimes.


The National Consumer Law Center took a look at institutional loans at for-profit colleges, and found that in many instances the loans should be described as predatory.

Flypaper’s Mike Petrilli notes that schools all across the nation have found ways to prevent low-income students from attending.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged the Atlanta school board — which has been so bogged down by infighting that a major accrediting firm put it on probation — to get its act together.


In a decision which ignored the Constitution, is riddled with factual errors, is laden with Tea Party rhetoric, relies heavily on a brief submitted by an anti-gay hate group, and which engages in reasoning similar to Bush v. Gore, Republican Judge Roger Vinson struck down the Affordable Care Act.

Also, Vinson once accepted an expense paid junket from an infamous Koch-funded group that offers junkets for judges.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ belief that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to account for racial injustice, explaining that “our society is too complex to use that kind of analysis.”

Climate Change

“Oil and gas companies have injected more than 32 million gallons of fluids containing diesel fuel underground without first getting government approval,” a report by congressional Democrats said Monday.

“More than 47,000 people have been moved to relief centers as of yesterday as floods worsened” in Malaysia, and “Australia evacuated thousands of people from its northeast coast on Tuesday as a cyclone rivaling Hurricane Katrina bore down on tourism towns and rural communities.”

Alpha Natural Resources is buying the dirty coal company Massey Energy for $7.1 billion.

LGBT Equality

“The daughter of a Republican president who once endorsed passage of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage has spoken out in support of marriage equality.”

“Dozens of speakers lined up Monday night for and against the so-called marriage amendment, including a former three-term state senator who said his previous support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was misguided.”

“Two New Hampshire legislators have introduced bills to repeal the state’s marriage equality law, even though Republican leaders said January 13 that such a repeal is not a party priority in 2011.”