The WonkLine: April 5, 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.



“Republican leaders are preparing the House for a government shutdown,” as they plan today “to distribute a pamphlet about the mechanics of a partial congressional work-stoppage to all lawmakers’ offices.”

“Google Inc.’s dominance of the Internet-search industry is being considered for a broad antitrust investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission,” Bloomberg reports.

“Service industries probably grew in March at close to the fastest pace in more than five years, an indication the U.S. economic expansion is broadening beyond manufacturing,” according to a survey of economists.

National Security

Counterterrorism officials have said that Al Qaeda has been able to operate more freely inside Yemen because Yemeni troops are focused more on countering anti-government demonstrators there.

The UN condemned Israel’s approval of new east Jerusalem housing units and expanded settlements in the West Bank. “We reiterate that Israeli settlement activity anywhere in occupied territory…is illegal and contrary to the Roadmap,” a UN official said.

Gen. David Petraeus is being “seriously considered” for the job of CIA director. Government officials said Petraeus “would take the job if offered.”

Climate Change

Massey Chairman Bobby Inman told The Wall Street Journal that he believes the Upper Big Branch mine explosion that killed 29 miners one year ago today was a “natural disaster.”

“At least six people have been killed in the South as fast-moving spring storms packing high winds, hail and lightning blew through the region, uprooting trees and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands.”

U.S. corn futures reached a record high yesterday, part of a 10-month rally that has more than doubled corm prices since last summer.


Wisconsin voters take to the polls today to decide whether to reelect anti-worker Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) ally David Prosser to the state supreme court, or to replace him with challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Fresh off his opinion denying relief to a man who spent 18 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit, Justice Clarence Thomas released another 5-4 opinion yesterday allowing a man with severe brain damage to be executed.

Additionally, the Court handed down another 5-4 decision that effectively makes it impossible to challenge many tax expenditures that violate the First Amendment.

Health Care

“Health care advocacy groups spent Monday spoiling for a fight over expected proposals to privatize Medicare and convert Medicaid into a state-owned and operated program for the poor.”

“The proposal to be unveiled by House Republicans on Tuesday to rein in the long-term costs of Medicaid and Medicare represents a fundamental rethinking of how the two programs work, an ambitious effort by conservatives to address the nation’s fiscal challenges, and a huge political risk.”

“Seventeen Democratic governors have signed and sent a letter to congressional leaders stating their firm opposition to a Medicaid reform proposal championed by House Republicans.”


“Class sizes in Florida public schools may be getting much larger again next fall despite voter-mandated restrictions that went into effect just this year,” the Orlando Sentinel reports.

A Michigan judge “has ruled unconstitutional a state law forcing K-12 and community college employees to pay 3 percent of their salary toward retiree health care, saying they were paying into a system from which they were guaranteed no benefit.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) will make an appearance at the American Enterprise Institute next month to discuss education reform.


Olympic gold medal-winner and the son of undocumented immigrants, Henry Cejudo, has continued advocating for comprehensive immigration reform.

A new study found that “Mexicans who migrate are far more likely to experience significant depression and anxiety than people who stay in Mexico.”

Latino Democrats who are demanding Obama use his executive power to protect families facing deportation have been reportedly asked to back away by the White House which says it does not have legal authority to do so.

LGBT Equality

New and old marriage equality protests: five protesters arrested in NYC while many couples plan to file their taxes honestly.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had nothing to offer in regards to potential executive orders the President could issue against LGBT bias.

Today, Ireland recognizes its first public same-sex civil union: Hugh Walsh and Barry Dignam.