The WonkLine: May 6, 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

Record-breaking flooding threatens the communities of the Mississippi in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and 15 other Republican senators introduced legislation to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.

Commodities prices fell sharply on Thursday, led by the steepest drop in oil prices since the fall of 2008,” as nvestors were nervous that “regulators would soon intervene to limit what many saw as a feeding frenzy in commodities.”

Health Care

“The legal battle over the federal health care law shifts to a historic Richmond courthouse Tuesday, in the first appellate hearing on the constitutionality of the Obama-sponsored legislation.”

“A 54-year-old today would have to save an extra $182,000 to pay for healthcare costs until the age of 84 under the GOP’s Medicare proposal, says a new report from the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research.”

“Fifty Senate Democrats on Thursday sent President Obama a letter commending him for his opposition to Republicans’ Medicare overhaul and urging him to stay the course as both parties negotiate an increase in the debt ceiling.”


“CEOs at the nation’s largest companies were paid better last year than they were in 2007, when the economy was booming,” according to an AP analysis.

Secretary of State Clinton warned today “that global shortages of food and spiraling prices threaten widespread destabilization.”

Oil prices fell 8 percent, to below $100 a barrel yesterday, which is the “lowest level since mid-March and marks its biggest one-day percentage drop in two years.”

LGBT Equality

An overwhelming 10-0 decision (with one abstention), Brazil’s Supreme Court has voted to give same-sex couples the right to civil unions.

LGBT activists will rally today in Newark, NJ to try to save Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia from being broke up by deportation, though Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday vacated a similar deportation decision, creating hopes for binational same-sex couples.

Mike Gin (R-CA) could become the first Congressional representative in a same-sex marriage if he wins a special election later this month.

National Security

Today, al Qaida’s “general leadership” confirmed the killing of Osama bin Laden and warned of retaliation, saying Americans’ “happiness will turn to sadness.”

“A set of handwritten notes picked up by the Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden prompted the government to warn of potential al Qaeda threats to the U.S. train network.”

The U.S. Air Force has grounded all of its F-22 Raptors until further notice because of potential malfunctions in the fighter jets’ oxygen-generation system.


House Republicans lay out their plan to reduce the maximum Pell Grant, which they call “more generous” than the government can afford.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs faced significant problems in carrying out the Post-9/11 GI Bill, resulting in significant delays in processing education benefits for veterans and major headaches for college officials,” the Government Accountability Office reported yesterday.

“A new report says student achievement is improving in 15 Connecticut school districts since state educators started helping them improve their curriculum and teacher training,” the AP reports.