The WonkLine: April 27, 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

Afghan officials said Pakistan is lobbying Afghan President Hamid Karzai against building a long-term strategic partnership with the U.S., “urging him instead to look to Pakistan — and its Chinese ally — for help in striking a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuilding the economy.”

President Obama is preparing to nominate Ryan Crocker to be ambassador to Afghanistan while other sources say the President will name CIA Director Leon Panetta to replace Robert Gates as Defense Secretary and Gen. David Petraeus to replace Panetta as CIA Director.

A Syrian human rights organization has said that Syrian security forces have shot dead at least 400 civilians in their campaign to crush the pro-democracy movement there.


According to the latest data, “among the population of people aged 25 or older who are working, women are now more likely than men (37 percent vs. 35 percent) to have a bachelor’s degree.”

The Texas legislature is moving forward with a bill that would ban the Lone Star state from adopting the National Governors Association’s common curriculum standards.

Republican governors and state lawmakers are “pushing for a major expansion of voucher programs, efforts that in some cases seek to give taxpayer money for private school tuition to a much larger swath of the population, including middle-income families.”

LGBT Equality

Support in the Senate continues to grow for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA.

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate introduced a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, even though Minnesota law already prohibits it.

Attorney General Eric Holder praised DOMA defender Paul Clement, comparing attacks against him to attacks against DOJ for its work with Guantanamo detainees.


The Supreme Court appears poised to strike down a Vermont law that prohibits pharmaceutical companies from mining pharmacies’ prescription records to find out which doctors they should market their drugs to.

Tenther lawmakers in Minnesota are jumping on a fringe constitutional amendment that would allow states to repeal federal laws.

Fox News sucks all the facts out of their reporting on the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the health care case prematurely.

Climate Change

“From tornados to more heavy rain and rising flood waters, deadly storms continue to wreak havoc on the South while states to the north and east brace for the violent weather that’s heading their way.”

A drought in the Horn of Africa, including Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, “is plunging millions of pastoralists closer to food insecurity.”

” Climate change could cut water flow in some of the American West’s biggest river basins — including the Rio Grande and the Colorado — by up to 20 percent this century, the Interior Department reported on Monday.”


With the country approaching its legal debt limit, the Treasury Department “has already begun juggling the books to conserve cash, draining a special account at the Federal Reserve.”

“Consumers continue to spend billions on overdraft fees, despite a Federal Reserve regulation that requires banks to obtain customers’ permission before signing them up for overdraft-protection programs,” USA Today reports.

This afternoon, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will become “the first Fed chairman to take routine, on-the-record questioning from the media.”


President Barack Obama criticized an immigration bill passed by Georgia’s Legislature, defended his administration’s record on securing U.S. borders, and repeated his call for comprehensive immigration reform.

The Washington Post reports that “the nation’s fastest-growing minorities are largely failing to exercise their right to vote.”

According to the Arizona Daily Star, “The Obama administration is having second thoughts about withdrawing all National Guard troops from the border by the end of June.”

Health Care

“Speaker John Boehner has given an interview in which he said Ryan’s plan was an idea ‘worthy of consideration‘ and that he wasn’t ‘wedded to it.’

“On the fourth floor of the Capitol, lobbyists for the HMO and nursing home industries are huddling over bills vastly expanding managed care for Florida’s three million Medicaid recipients.”

“Attendees at Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) town hall meeting on Tuesday heaped more scorn on the powerful congressman for backing an extension for the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.”