The WonkLine: May 26, 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.


Health Care

“The GOP continued its bloody walk into the Medicare buzzsaw Wednesday, when 40 out of 47 Senate Republicans voted in support of the House GOP budget, and its plan to phase out and privatize the popular entitlement program.”

“The House on Wednesday afternoon approved an amendment from Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) that would prevent a federal healthcare education fund from being used for abortion or to provide for training for abortion procedures.”

“Moments after preaching extreme self-reliance to one of his constituents, a Georgia Republican told a gathering in his district that he will continue to rely on government-subsidized health care ‘because it’s free‘”


The Illinois Senate narrowly passed a new bill Wednesday requiring public schools to teach contraception as part of its sexual education curriculum. Prior to the vote, schools were only required to teach students abstinence to prevent pregnancy and STDs.

According to new federal data, for-profit colleges spend less than a third per student than public universities but charge nearly twice as much in tuition.

The Obama Administration is granting qualified states an addition $500 million after expanding the Race to the Top initiative to now include preschools programs.

LGBT Equality

Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is concerned that the House GOP may try to overturn marriage equality in the District of Columbia.

New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation plans to show a new training video to its 38,000 staffers about how to better treat LGBT patients “with dignity and respect.”

The National Organization of Marriage accused ABC’s “What Would You Do?” segment about gay parenting of being unrealistic, even though all the anti-gay talking points have been used and promoted by NOM.


Professor Goodwin Liu asked President Obama to withdraw his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after Senate Republicans filibustered his nomination.

The SEC rejected a bid by corporate lobbyists to require corporate whistleblowers to reveal what they know to their employer before they bring it to the SEC. Instead, the new rules offer whistleblowers a financial incentive to speak to their employer first.

The Supreme Court’s decision requiring California to fix its unconstitutional prison crowding problem could lead to long-overdue nationwide prison reform.

National Security

Serbian authorities said that Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general accused of overseeing the worst massacre in Europe since the end of World War II, has been arrested. Mladic was wanted for his alleged role in the 1995 slaughter of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the enclave of Srebrenica.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel returned from Washington on Wednesday to a nearly unanimous assessment among Israelis that despite his forceful defense of Israel’s security interests, hopes were dashed that his visit might advance peace negotiations with the Palestinians.”

Turkey’s foreign minister said yesterday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must deliver reforms that would constitute “shock therapy” to his country if he had any hope of ending a nine-week crisis that was roiling the region.


Unemployment claims rose unexpectedly last week, a sign that modest economic gains are yet to be felt among most of the nation’s labor force.

The Obama Administration announced plans today to loosen hundreds of federal regulations – namely in workplace safety and the environment – in an attempt to spur economic growth.

Yesterday, the senate voted unanimously to reject the $3.7 billion budget plan President Obama submitted in February, with Democrats instead advocating for his deficit-reduction plan he introduced in April. Republicans said each budget “continues the unsustainable status quo.”

Climate Change

Despite strong support for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is planning to announce New Jersey is pulling out of the successful climate and clean energy program under pressure from Koch’s Americans For Prosperity.

“Senate Democrats are going to press for limits on speculative trading in the energy markets Thursday during a meeting with the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.”

Greenpeace activists are arrested for occupying the 100-year-old Fisk coal plant in Chicago, which kills over a dozen Chicagoans a year.


The Hill reports that “a group of liberal Democrats” is “asking Obama to scale back his aggressive deportation policy, particularly in cases when children are seeking an education or families would be split apart.”

The U.S. government has launched an ad campaign “to encourage more immigrants to become American citizens and become more integrated into society.”

The ACLU of Indiana seeking an injunction of a new immigration law which the ACLU claims includes unlawful provisions that would allow local police to interfere with federal authorities and arrest immigrants.