The WonkLine: February 2, 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

“Thousands of demonstrators for and against President Hosni Mubarak, some on horses and camels, fought running battles in and around Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Wednesday, despite a call from Egypt’s powerful military for the president’s opponents to ‘restore normal life.'”

“President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen said Wednesday that he would not run for re-election when his term ends in 2013.”

“A mental health specialist recommended that the Army private accused of leaking classified material to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks not be deployed to Iraq, but his immediate commanders sent him anyway.”

Health Care

“States took broadly divergent approaches on Tuesday to a federal judge’s ruling that invalidated the Obama health care law, while Congressional Republicans used the decision to build momentum for a vote on repealing the act.”

“Health-care companies said they were pressing forward with plans to implement the federal health-overhaul law, despite a new legal ruling that declared it to be unconstitutional.”

“While the rest of the country has maintained or increased health programs for children, Arizona has become an outlier.”


Wall Street pay hit a record $135 billion last year, as bank revenue rebounded in the wake of the Great Recession.

The Federal Reserve has officially abandoned a plan its plan to gut an important anti-predatory lending rule.

“Rising rents, stagnant wages and high unemployment led more than 7 million U.S. households either to live in substandard dwellings or pay more than half their monthly incomes for rent in 2009,” according to a new report.


After two years of declines, the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. was virtually unchanged last year, according to a report released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

New government data shows the Obama administration has sharply increased immigration prosecutions and has stepped up cases against white-collar crimes, drug violations, organized crime and official corruption.

Newt Gingrich and Howard Dean touched on immigration policy last night during a student-sponsored debate at George Washington University.


Lawmakers propose a bill in Washington State that “would make teacher effectiveness the main determining factor during layoffs,” instead of simply seniority.

A proposal for merit pay in Florida makes a comeback, after a similar measure was vetoed by former Gov. Charlie Crist last year.

For-profit colleges are suing the U.S. Education Department, but the Inspector General for the Education Department released a report showing that the schools’ claims are bogus.


Wisconsin’s Attorney General announced that his state would cease implementing the Affordable Care Act in response to Judge Roger Vinson’s erroneous decision striking down the law.

Vinson tried to take health care away from military vets in 1998 as well. He was reversed then, just like he’ll be reversed now..

South Dakota lawmakers are responding to Vinson’s decision with a bill requiring everyone over 21 in their state to buy a gun. The bill, while awesomely stupid, is constitutional.

Climate Change

” A colossal winter storm stretching from New Mexico to Maine hit the heartland of the United States with snow, high winds and freezing rain on Tuesday,” “shuttering airports and schools and leaving normally bustling downtowns deserted,” and “experts said the worst was still to come as the storm moved northeast and temperatures were set to plunge.”

” Australians braced Wednesday as a massive, powerful cyclone neared the already flood-ravaged northern state of Queensland,” and “Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has warned residents that there could be devastation and heartbreak on an unprecedented scale as Cyclone Yasi smashes into the state.”

With “record snowfall on the ground,” officials in North Dakota and Montana are getting residents prepared for “this year’s round of spring flooding.”

LGBT Equality

“As the Pentagon moves forward with its plans to implement the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ US military officials say they are ‘pretty certain‘ that they will be able to begin training US troops on the new policy during the month of February.”

“Sen. Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard) parted ways with fellow Senate Republicans on Tuesday as they voted as a caucus to oppose a same-sex marriage bill pending in the Maryland General Assembly this year.”

“About 2,500 people are expected in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday for the 23rd annual National Conference on LGBT Equality.”