The WonkLine: May 4, 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

U.S. officials said the Obama administration is seeking to use Osama bin Laden’s death to accelerate a negotiated settlement with the Taliban “and hasten the end of the war in Afghanistan.”

While a former CIA counterterrorism chief said that harsh interrogation tactics led to bin Laden’s death, the New York Times reports “the harsh techniques played a small role at most in identifying Bin Laden’s trusted courier and exposing his hide-out.”

Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas today “proclaimed a landmark, Egyptian-mediated reconciliation pact aimed at ending their bitter four-year rift.”


“Top prosecutors in 10 states have convened a joint investigation into potential violations of consumer protection laws by for-profit colleges” that is being led by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (D).

California’s school systems “could be forced to make extensive layoffs, raise class sizes, and eliminate more programs and services” if state Republicans will not agree to a series of fee extensions and tax increases.

The “gainful employment” regulation that the for-profit college industry has been intensely lobbying against was sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review yesterday.

LGBT Equality

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) has introduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would block federal funding to states that discriminate against same-sex couples in adoption and foster care.

Google Chrome premiered a new anti-bullying commercial during last night’s Glee in coordination with the It Gets Better Project.

Following the lead of Indiana and Minnesota, Pennsylvania has introduced a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, even though it’s already against the law there.


State Rep. John Kriesel (R-MN), an Iraq war veteran who lost both of his legs in combat, became the first Republican to speak out against a marriage discrimination amendment making its way through the Minnesota legislature. “It’s just wrong,” Kriesel said. “There is not anything that can move me on this.”

A Florida judge ordered the state to follow a state constitutional amendment requiring the minimum wage to keep up with inflation and raise the minimum wage in that state.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens criticized the Supreme Court’s recent decision saying that a man who spent years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit has no recourse.

Climate Change

“While tornadoes and floods have ravaged the South and the Midwest, the remote western edge of the Oklahoma Panhandle is quietly enduring a weather calamity of its own: its longest drought on record, even worse than the Dust Bowl.”

“As the global offshore oil and gas industry meets in Houston this week, leaders say they are aware the reputation of their business is still bruised after the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill and that motorists and politicians are fuming over $4 gasoline prices,” but we “cannot afford to have emotions control business and policy decisions.”

Children and young adults plan “to file legal actions in every state and the District of Columbia on Wednesday in an effort to force government intervention on climate change.”

Health Care

“For the first time since Democrats in Congress passed the national health care bill in March of last year, support for repeal of the measure has fallen below 50%.”

“Republicans insist the health care repeal effort hasn’t jumped the shark — but even they admit the bills they’re pushing through the House Tuesday aren’t exactly the biggest repeal votes they’ve taken.”

“Vermont’s legislative roadmap to dramatic reform of health care is two steps from becoming law. All that remains is a vote in the House, expected Thursday, and Gov. Peter Shumlin’s signature. The Senate endorsed the revised bill Tuesday afternoon.”


The Hill reports that “President Obama is urging Congress to pass immigration reform, but has given no indication he will craft a plan of his own.”

Florida’s Arizona copycat bill is “likely dead” after an E-Verify amendment failed to clear the House yesterday.

The ACLU and National Immigration Law Center have filed a lawsuit against Utah’s watered-down version of Arizona’s controversial statute claiming that it will lead to civil rights violation.


Florida Republicans blocked Gov. Rick Scott (R) proposed corporate tax cut yesterday, saying “the state could not handle slashing spending deeply enough to make up for the lost tax revenue.”

During a surprise inspection yesterday, “U.S. mining regulators found multiple safety violations at a West Virginia mine owned by Massey Energy Co.” Inspectors called the violations “nothing short of outrageous.”

“U.S. senators formally referred to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission an investigative report that found Goldman Sachs Group Inc. misled clients about mortgage-linked securities,” Bloomberg reports.