The WonkLine: May 18, 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.



In one tweet, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) both reveals her cartoonish understanding of the Constitution and demands that schoolchildren be served unhealthy lunches.

The Senate confirmed Judge Susan Carney to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Anti-worker Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is slowly restructuring the Wisconsin government to give more and more power to himself.


Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has pulled out of the “Gang of Six” budget talks, and “the group’s two other Republicans said it would be hard to continue” without him.

Politico profiles the growing number of “default deniers,” who don’t believe that failing to raise the nation’s debt ceiling would be bad for the economy.

“Major U.S. newspapers have increasingly shifted their attention away from coverage of unemployment in recent months while greatly intensifying their focus on the deficit,” according to a National Journal analysis.

LGBT Equality

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) lobbied for marriage equality yesterday in Albany, calling it the single most important issue facing the state.

A new study with data provided by bishops suggests that the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal is not the result of homosexuality or celibacy, but the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s.

Questions continue to arise about where House Speaker John Boehner (R) will be getting the funds to defend DOMA and whether the contract violates the Antideficiency Act.


After the Oklahoma House shot down the latest version of the state’s Arizona copycat immigration law, the author of the bill stated that it won’t be reconsidered this year.

The Obama administration decided to extend the Temporary Protected Status afforded to Haitians following last year’s earthquake for an additional year and a half to live and work in the United States.

After passing the South Carolina House Judiciary committee, the state’s Arizona copycat law is heading to the state House floor, “where Republicans have made its passage a priority.”


Attorney General Holder said yesterday “that much work in promoting equality and opportunity remains nearly six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ‘single greatest’ decision declaring segregated schools unconstitutional.”

“As the needs of global labor change and college readiness standards increase, American boys have been slower to adapt than girls,” according to a report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education.

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) “vetoed a $2.8 billion K-12 education spending bill from Democrats on Monday.” Sandoval opposes any new taxes, which Democrats included in the budget anyway.

Health Care

“House Republicans returning to their districts on Monday faced harsh criticism for voting to turn Medicare, the federal health care program for retirees, into a voucher system.”

“Right-wing pundits and politicians, including Sarah Palin, are charging that the latest round of health care reform waivers from the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) are ‘corrupt,’ since nearly one-fifth went to businesses in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district.”

“The Obama administration is trying to hasten the spread of new arrangements to coordinate and pay for the health care of older Americans, even as major groups of hospitals and doctors are skeptical of the government’s plans.”

Climate Change

The U.S. Forest Service and Southern Group of State Foresters unveiled findings of the Southern Forest Futures Project: More frequent and intense wildfires; spread of plant, insect, and disease pests; urbanization, climate change, and invasive species could combine to kill over a thousand species and reduce forests by 23 million acres.

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) was called a “phony” at a town hall meeting for pushing an oil-above-all agenda and ignoring the role of Wall Street speculators on spiking gas prices.

As Mississippi River floodwaters approach, many homeowners are not insured.

National Security

Syrian president Bashar Assad said the country’s security forces have made mistakes during the demonstrations against his regime, in part blaming poorly trained police officers for the bloody crackdown.

Pakistani soldiers exchanged fire with two NATO helicopters that crossed into Pakistan’s airspace from Afghanistan yesterday.

Human Rights First reports that more than 800 people have been arrested in Bahrain since February, mostly Shiite Muslims protesting for democratic reforms, and that many were taken without warrants and beaten.