The WonkLine: April 8, 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

The CIA, FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies are preparing for “potentially significant” employee furloughs if the government shuts down. “The IC has been looking very carefully at this,” one official said.

The Justice Department concluded in a memo released yesterday that President Obama had the constitutional power to lawfully launch air strikes in Libya without congressional authorization.

U.S. Africa Command commander Army Gen. Carter Ham said yesterday that the U.S. may consider sending troops into Libya with a possible international ground force to aid rebels there.


The main item holding back a deal to prevent a government shutdown is not the money — as the two parties are just $5 billion apart on spending cuts — but House Republicans’ insistence on attaching policy riders to any funding bill.

According to the Tax Policy Center, “Representative Paul Ryan’s proposal to lower the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25 percent would require Congress to eliminate more than $2.9 trillion worth of tax breaks over the next decade.”

Even as the Dodd-Frank financial reform law is being implemented, “more than a dozen senior positions spread across seven regulatory bodies and the Treasury Department lack permanent occupants.”

Climate Change

“Murphy Exploration and Production Co on Thursday was issued the ninth permit for drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico since last year’s BP oil spill.”

Meanwhile, oiled dead dolphins are washing ashore along the Gulf Coast.

NRDC has launched DirtySecrets.org to hold accountable the 332 politicians who voted to block EPA rules on climate pollution this week.


A Republican elections official in the most Republican part of Wisconsin suddenly “found” over 14,000 new votes yesterday in a hotly contested judicial race. If this newly discovered votes prove to be valid, they will give conservative incumbent David Prosser a more than 7000 vote lead.

Right-wing operatives went digging for evidence that Justice Kagan must recuse from the Affordable Care Act litigation. They came up with a big goose egg.

Is the Supreme Court suffering from Gitmo fatigue?

Health Care

“Implementation of the health reform law will not stop if there is a government shutdown, an HHS official says.”

“Employers and even some younger people would pay more for health insurance if lawmakers raise the eligibility age for Medicare, a study concludes.”

“Republicans talk a lot about how Medicaid block grants could help governors bring down their costs, but they don’t talk as much about what, exactly, the states would do with them.”


By a 33-24 vote, “with several Republicans and all present Democrats voting against the measure,” the Arizona House approved a bill that will allow guns to be carried on college campuses.

New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black resigned after just three months on the job.

The NAACP and Americans for Tax Reform have launched an effort “to persuade legislators and policymakers to shift the growing amount of money spent on prisons to education.”


Federal officials agreed to pay $1.95 million to settle a wrongful death suit brought by a family of an undocumented immigrant whose cancer went undiagnosed and untreated while in detention.

At the Mormon church’s 181st Annual General Conference, “nary a word was uttered on the topic” of immigration, despite the fact that it’s a pressing issue in the church.

El Paso’s County Judge Veronica Escobar disagreed with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on the value of a border fence at a Senate hearing yesterday, stating that it is an inefficient use of resources.

LGBT Equality

The Delaware Senate yesterday approved a civil unions bill; it is expected to pass the House next week.

The Arkansas Supreme Court yesterday overturned the state’s voter-passed ban on same-sex adoption as unconstitutional.

A Montana legislator wants to keep the unconstitutional state sodomy laws on the books to combat gay “recruitment.”