The WonkLine: May 3, 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 death of bin Laden has reinforced and increased calls in Washington for a faster withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Osama bin Laden’s death in Pakistan proves that his country is “not the place of terrorism.” “If the international forces are true allies of the Afghans, they should come out and say that the killing of Afghans, children and elders which took place over the many years on a daily basis was not a good idea,” Karzai said.

The Obama administration will investigate whether Pakistani authorities helped bin Laden stay in hiding for years, after bin Laden was killed in a compound located in the same city as Pakistan’s top military academy.


“The Justice Department plans to intervene in a whistle-blower lawsuit charging that one of the nation’s largest for-profit college companies, the Education Management Corporation, defrauded the government by illegally paying recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled,” the New York Times reports.

“A proposal to repeal Tennessee teachers’ collective bargaining rights passed the Senate 18-14 on Monday,” the Associated Press reports.

“After Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave the Christina school board in Delaware a public reprimand last week for going back on its Race to the Top promises,” the school voted to reinstate its RTTT plan.

LGBT Equality

The U.S. House has renewed its contract with Paul Clement to defend DOMA with the same terms as before, but House Democrats have still not been consulted on the process.

Both the Minnesota House and Senate have advanced an anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment out of committee with voting along party lines.

J. Crew again shows its support for LGBT customers by including one of its designers and his boyfriend in their May catalog, describing them as “Happy Together.”


Senate Democrats filed a cloture petition seeking an protect the victims of lead paint poisioning.

The Supreme Court denied review of the Fifth Circuit decision saying that the First Amendment does not protect a high school cheerleader who was dismissed from the cheerleading squad after she chose not to cheer for the man who allegedly raped her.

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) is expected to sign a wildly unconstitutional bill nullifying part of the Affordable Care Act.

Climate Change

“AAA and other market watchers say they expect $4 gasoline to become the norm nationwide by the end of the week.”

“The Army Corps of Engineers exploded the Birds Point levee after nightfall Monday, flooding 130,000 acres of rich farmland and about 100 homes in Missouri to spare the Illinois town of 2,800 residents that is at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.”

“Damage surveys have confirmed that last week’s April 25 – 28 outbreak spawned at least eleven violent EF-4 tornadoes (winds 166 – 200 mph) and two EF-5 tornadoes (winds greater than 200 mph),” Jeff Masters reports.

Health Care

“In a new effort to increase access to health care for poor people, the Obama administration is proposing a rule that would make it much more difficult for states to cut Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals.”

“State governments across the country are exploring work-arounds to get health exchanges up and running after Republican legislators and tea party protests have blocked state laws to implement this piece of health care reform.”

“The news of Osama bin Laden’s death may have consumed Capitol Hill Monday, but it didn’t alter House Republicans’ plans to continue their months-long quest to defund President Obama’s health-care plan.”


President Obama will meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus today to discuss the flaws in the immigration system and how to address them.

The Alabama Legislature “is close to enacting an Arizona-style law,” as the final bill awaits a vote in the state Senate.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder “says he embraces immigration as a way to repopulate Michigan as part of a larger plan to spur economic development.”


“A greater-than-expected increase in tax revenue has extended by about a month, until early August, the federal government’s ability to pay its bills without an increase in the debt ceiling,” the Treasury Department said yesterday.

Heather McGhee explains why Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-TN) CAP act “would mandate huge cuts to popular domestic programs — even when there’s a budget surplus.”

Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) said yesterday that “he won’t return $271 million in federal funds for a canceled commuter-rail tunnel to New York, a decision that may cost the state $52,000 a week in interest.”