The WonkLine: April 29, 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.


Climate Change

“The president and first lady will meet Friday with victims of a series of powerful storms that caused a path of destruction affecting six states and killed 300 people.”

Exxon tried to blame gas station owners for high gas prices as it announces $11 billion in profits.

Chevron Corp, the second-largest U.S. oil company, reported a 36 percent jump in quarterly earnings to $4.6 billion “as oil prices surged and refining profits improved along with the global economy.”

Health Care

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he will hold a test vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal, which Democrats strongly oppose.

Ryan has spoken out against GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty’s budget proposal that would implement “payment reforms” for Medicare.

The Congressional Budget Office found that Congress could save $14 billion by repealing grants to help set up state health insurance exchange programs, but the consequences of not helping set up the exchanges could be worse.

LGBT Equality

The White House will today be hosting its first-ever meeting solely focused on transgender issues.

The Department of Labor announced yesterday that it will extend nondiscrimination protections based on gender identity and pregnancy.

Despite acknowledging the conflict of continued discrimination against trans recruits, Stanford University’s Faculty Senate voted to invite ROTC back to campus.


Should Justices Ginsburg and Breyer retire this year before they risk giving their seat to a nut like Justice Thomas?

The ACLU is challenging Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) plan to subject all state employees to random drug testing.

Waukesha County, Wisconsin, the county that somehow managed to lose and then find 14,000 mostly Republican ballots in the recent state supreme court election, has also managed to botch its recount of those ballots.

National Security

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said yesterday that pro-Qaddafi troops in Libya are increasingly engaging in sexual violence and some have been issued the impotency drug Viagra.

European Union ambassadors will consider a number of sanctions against Syria when they meet today, including an asset freeze, travel bans and an arms embargo.

The unity deal between Fatah and Hamas “is a fatal mistake that will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and will sabotage chances of peace and stability in the region,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said.


“More than one million community college students in 31 states do not have access to federal student loans because their institutions choose not to offer them,” according to a new report by the Project on Student Debt.

“Members of Idaho’s statewide teachers union have filed a lawsuit against the state, the governor and Idaho’s public schools chief over a new law that phases out teacher tenure and wipes out collective bargaining over salaries and benefits,” Education Week reports.

“Faced with modest tax increases and fewer program cuts, New Jersey voters approved 80 percent of school budgets this week in an election that was largely free of last year’s turmoil,” the New York Times reports.


CNN reports that “President Barack Obama on Thursday appeared to rule out acting on his own to implement some provisions of an immigration reform bill that failed to win congressional approval last year.”

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce voiced its opposition yesterday to Florida’s proposed immigration-enforcement bill, “for fear of the economic impact such legislation will have on the state of Florida.”

A Minnesota House committee approved a bill that would prohibit cities from having policies that forbid police from routinely asking about immigration status.


Chrysler announced that it will be repaying its $7.5 billion in loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments, “another sign that the automaker is recovering from its near collapse in 2009.”

“Under orders from U.S. regulators, 14 financial institutions have until mid-June to lay out plans to clean up their mortgage-servicing operations — and another 60 days to make the changes,” the Wall Street Journal notes.

Jordan Eizenga and Seth Hanlon call for the return of Build America Bonds: “Congress can still revive the Build America Bonds program and make it a permanent feature of the municipal bond market.”