The WonkLine: April 21, 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.


LGBT Equality

Analysis of the House GOP legal contract to defend DOMA reveals the $500,000 cap is unrealistic and there is a gag rule for all employees — even non-lawyers –of King & Spaulding.

After failing for six years, a bill in Tennessee explicitly prohibiting discussion of homosexuality in grades K-8 (the “Don’t Say Gay”” bill) passed out of committee yesterday.

The L.A. Lakers have released a PSA in response to Kobe Bryant’s use of a homophobic slur last week.


The New Jersey Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case yesterday to determine whether Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) violated the state constitution by cutting too much funding from low-income school districts.

“As fuel prices continue to rise, local school systems are looking for ways to keep school buses from running on empty,” Education Week reports.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) yesterday “signed a measure that restricts teachers’ collective bargaining ability.”

National Security

British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that NATO will not deploy ground troops in Libya but said the alliance must “turn up the pressure” on pro-Qaddafi forces.

The Israeli Defense Forces quoted a Red Cross official saying that the Gaza Strip is not experiencing a humanitarian crisis. “If you go to the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and a nice beach,” the official allegedly said.

President Obama’s deficit reduction plan “moves the starting point of negotiations on future [defense] budgets in the direction of deep cuts –something the nation’s top executive has heretofore been unwilling to do.”


“Almost all of the GOP presidential hopefuls with gubernatorial experience can boast upgraded credit ratings for their respective states during their tenure in office, with the exception of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R),” The Hill reports.

President Obama “has narrowed the list of candidates to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to a group of people with financial-services experience including Elizabeth Warren.”

The New Hampshire state senate yesterday “passed its version of a right-to-work bill by a veto-proof majority.” Enacting the law would make New Hampshire the first right-to-work state in the Northeast.


Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a completely meaningless bill which attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act though an “interstate compact.” The bill is meaningless because Congress must approve interstate compacts and because the President can veto them.

A Virginia board voted yesterday to maintain an unconstitutional policy that prevents gay couples from adopting children.

Federal courts in Arizona are being crushed by an unworkable caseload.

Climate Change

Rachel Maddow explains the rise of Doc Hastings (R-WA), a sordid tale of Jack Abramoff, Medicare Part D, and sweatshops.

“There are climate change deniers in Congress,” President Obama told supporters at a fundraiser in San Francisco.

“It might be only April, but the National Hurricane Center is already monitoring a patch of bad weather in the Atlantic that forecasters say could become a tropical cyclone.”


Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is demanding that the U.S. Justice Department sue Utah over its controversial guest worker law.

President Obama is facing increasing pressure from Latinos, Democratic lawmakers and immigrant groups to use his executive powers to offer relief from deportation to broad groups of undocumented immigrants.

A federal agency has filed a lawsuit against an oil rig construction company over treatment of hundreds of immigrant workers recruited in India to work in Mississippi and Texas.

Health Care

“Georgia could join with other states to try to assert control over health policy under legislation Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Wednesday.”

“At a town hall Wednesday, President Obama said that one of the biggest questions he has had about his leadership as president was the slow pace of health care reform. Given how complicated the issue was, though, he added that he’s not sure it could’ve moved any faster.”

“Idaho Gov. C.L. ‘Butch’ Otter has issued an executive order prohibiting the state from implementing the federal health care reform law.”