The WonkLine: May 5, 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.



General Motors posted its biggest profit since 2000 in the first quarter of this year, just two years after it was rescued by the federal government.

Goldman Sachs is “totally freaked out” about a new rule aimed at limiting its trading, and is lobbying hard to weaken it.

“World food prices rose to near a record in April as grain costs advanced,” while the price of corn has nearly doubled in the past 12 months.

LGBT Equality

Ted Nugent, a current board member of the NRA, defended Kobe Bryant’s use of “faggot” in an incendiary column in the Washington Times.

LGBT groups will protest in Newark, NJ tomorrow as a binational same-sex couple is about to be separated due to immigration policies under DOMA.

At a benefit for social advocacy site Friendfactor, Chelsea Clinton offered her support of marriage equality.


Immigration hardliner Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) is creating the new 112th Congress Immigration Reform Caucus.

Arizona has received more than $3.7 million in private contributions to defend SB-1070.

The Illinois state Senate passed its own version of the DREAM Act yesterday in a 45-11 vote.


The Senate confirmed Judge Jack McConnell to a federal district court in Rhode Island last night over strident objections from the Chamber of Commerce.

President Obama nominated seven attorneys to federal judgeships yesterday, including Judge Chris Droney to the Second Circuit.

Linda Greenhouse laments the increasingly common practice of lawyers in high-profile cases trying to strategically recuse judges that they think will vote against them.

Climate Change

An analysis led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health calculated that the city of Chicago will experience a “profound and potentially devastating” increase in deadly heat waves because of global warming.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) “is increasing his pressure on the Justice Department to deepen the recently announced interagency probe of potential oil and gasoline price manipulation.”

“Three recent explosions at levees have helped ease the dangerously swollen Mississippi River, though the waterway continues to rise to historic levels and threatens to overrun some cities, the Army Corps of Engineers says.”

Health Care

“The House passed a bill Wednesday designed to block any government connection to abortion, underscoring Republican attempts to balance the party’s focus on jobs and the deficit with signals that its leaders care about social issues.”

Voting 235 to 191, the House also “blocked money for construction of school-based health centers that had been earmarked in the health care act.”

“Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said Wednesday that a fellow Democrat’s plan to tackle federal spending would be even worse for Medicaid than House Republicans’ ‘heartless” proposals for the program.'”

National Security

The covert operation that killed Osama bin Laden produced new evidence that the Al Qaeda leader actively commanded the terror group’s affiliates in Yemen, Somalia and other parts of North Africa.

“U.S. and European intelligence officials increasingly believe active or retired Pakistani military or intelligence officials provided some measure of aid to” bin Laden, “allowing him to stay hidden in a large compound just a mile from an elite military academy.”

A group of top progressive lawmakers said in a letter to President Obama yesterday that the U.S. can now start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan now that bin Laden is dead.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has thrown “its considerable lobbying weight behind an Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization proposal that would keep intact key aspects of the accountability system at the heart of the No Child Left Behind law.”

“Most high-school seniors have only a basic understanding of civics, and their average knowledge has slipped,” according to the new release of the Nation’s Report Card.

In a speech yesterday, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) explained his support for national education standards, while also saying that federal education funding shouldn’t be increased.