The WonkLine: April 13, 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.


“Student loan debt outpaced credit card debt for the first time last year and is likely to top a trillion dollars this year,” the New York Times reports.

Community colleges are banding together in an attempt to “compete against the mass marketing of for-profit institutions.”


The Indiana state senate voted yesterday in favor of a bill expanding charter schools. Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) is likely to sign the legislation.

LGBT Equality

The Republican National Committee’s fundraising site, “Hope Isn’t Hiring,” which attacked President Obama’s support of LGBT equality, has disappeared.

First lady Michelle Obama’s new “Joining Forces” campaign for military families will not acknowledge LGBT families while Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is still in effect.

Yesterday, the Hawaii Senate passed a bill adding employment to its list of protections for transgender individuals. They will be the 13th state to provide such protections.

Climate Change

“A scorching drought in much of the Southwest is hurting farmers across several states and potentially crimping supplies of crops and cattle.”

The flooding Red River has reached record levels north of Fargo-Moorhead, threatening residents and crops.

High-intensity, high-volume rainstorms mean that Iowa is losing topsoil considerably faster — 10 to as much as 50 times faster — than it’s forming.


The Virginia prison system loves them some censorship.

The Fifth Circuit held that two gay parents in Louisiana may not have both of their names appear on their adopted child’s birth certificate, even though the state typically issues a new birth certificate with the names of both adoptive parents at the time of adoption.


A right-wing federal judge is now claiming that Justice Clarence Thomas only showed up at a Koch-fueled political fundraiser because his wife Ginni was attending.


“Some Republicans are already squirming” over House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to dismantle Medicare.

“Just two years after the financial panic reached its nadir, the nation’s biggest banks have regained their footing”; JP Morgan Chase will announce a 67 percent jump in first-quarter profits today.

Several candidates have turned down the Obama administration’s offer to become the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as they don’t want to undercut Elizabeth Warren, who is currently setting up the agency.

National Security

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said yesterday that defense spending cuts must be part of the upcoming budget negotiations.


France and Britain are complaining that other NATO members, including the United States, are not doing enough to help protect rebels in Libya. The Pentagon said yesterday that NATO has not asked the U.S. to intensify its military operations in Libya.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday that the U.S. plans a new push to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.


One day after the state Senate approved a similar proposal, the Georgia House of Representatives passed an Arizona copycat immigration bill yesterday that will likely end up in a joint House-Senate conference committee. Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman said that her party must change how it thinks and talks immigration if it wants to be successful in California. The New York Times reports that “few issues are proving more divisive within the [European] bloc than immigration.”

Health Care

Pawlenty’s new campaign manager Nick Ayers told POLITICO’s Kendra Marr “that health care will be a central theme of the 2012 campaign and that Pawlenty will build his campaign around his record as Minnesota governor.”

“Amid a budget debate that will affect the health care of virtually every family, a new poll finds support for President Barack Obama’s overhaul at its lowest level since passage last year.”

“In a postelection reversal, House Republicans are supporting nearly $450 billion in Medicare cuts that they criticized vigorously last fall when Democrats and President Barack Obama passed them as part of their controversial health care law.”