The WonkLine: February 14, 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 Obama administration will release its 2012 budget today, which proposes savings of $1.1 trillion over the next decade by reducing or terminating 200 federal programs.

The housing crisis “is delivering a new wave of distress to communities once thought to be immune — economically diversified cities where the boom was relatively restrained.”

Americans believe transportation infrastructure is a high priority, but they don’t want to pay for it.

LGBT Equality

“Gay rights leaders said they are preparing for several more years of work to ensure gay troops and those kicked out for violating the ban earn the same rights and protections afforded to straight colleagues.”

“Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a libertarian considering a presidential bid, said this week that President Obama has helped advance gay rights — but not quickly enough.”

“Same-sex couples nationwide, including in Texas, plan to make a political statement today by seeking marriage licenses at county clerks’ offices.”


The Washington Post figures out that Roberts and Alito are not sure votes against the Affordable Care Act.

Arizona is in court today defending its unconstitutional decision to deny benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees.

Twelve states are considering unconstitutional bills to nullify the Affordable Care Act, a tactic George Washington called “preposterous and anarchic.”


Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) continues his fight to spend federal education money on things other than education.

In its 2012 budget, the Obama administration “is expected to call for creating an education research initiative modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.”

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) has proposed undoing 2009 legislation “that gave the University of Wisconsin faculty and academic staff the right to unionize.”

Climate Change

Scientists have found that government estimates of the natural gas spewed by BP’s oil disaster were 33 percent too low.

Heroic climate scientist Willi Dansgaard, who invented ice-core science, has died at the age of 88.

“Sri Lanka will lose over one million tons from its upcoming paddy harvest due to recent flooding,” and conditions for China’s winter wheat crop are “grim” because of widespread drought.

National Security

“The Egyptian army has tightened its grip over the country by suspending the constitution, dissolving parliament, and calling for elections within six months, key demands of the protest movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.”

Protests have erupted in countries throughout the Middle East, emerging in Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, and Yemen.

“A suicide bomber detonated explosives at the entrance of an upscale mall and hotel in Kabul Monday afternoon, leaving twisted metal and broken glass at a venue frequented by foreigners and wealthy Afghans.”

Health Care

“The House Republican spending bill to fund the government for the rest of the year would bar funding for the director of the White House Office of Health Reform and for enforcement of the 1099 reporting requirement.”

“President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal delays a steep cut in Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors by squeezing healthcare payments for a broad cross-section of medical providers.”

“As health care costs continue to escalate, employers are offering financial incentives to encourage workers to embrace high-deductible insurance plans.”


First Lady Michelle Obama called on the Latino community to put pressure on Republicans to support comprehensive immigration legislation.

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels (R) is keeping quiet on an immigration crackdown bill making its way through the state Legislature.

Oklahoma lawmakers have proposed nearly 30 immigration bills ranging from restricting property rights of noncitizens to requiring school officials know the legal status of students.