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The WonkLine: April 22, 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.

National Security

While U.S. and Iraqi military officials discuss plans for keeping 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq past 2011, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that the Iraqi army is capable of maintaining security.

A Libyan rebel spokesman yesterday welcomed President Obama’s decision to deploy Predator drones, saying, “There’s no doubt that will help protect civilians, and we welcome that step from the American administration.”

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Dozens of Israeli academics, writers and artists have signed a declaration welcoming a Palestinian state on the basis of Israel’s 1967 borders.

Education

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that “New Jersey voters disapprove of the way Gov. Chris Christie is handling public education — one of his key issues — by 52 to 44 percent.”

During his first year in office, Education Secretary Duncan granted 315 waivers from No Child Left Behind rules, which is “a nine-fold increase in the number under his predecessor.”

“At a time when many states are eager to display their commitment to education through unnecessary contentiousness, Illinois is serving as a model of collaboration for other states that are serious about reforming education,” write Cindy Brown and Theodora Chang.

LGBT Equality

After being interrupted about “gay marriage” while talking about unfinished business, President Obama responded, “Our work is not finished.”

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A Montana judge dismissed a lawsuit from six same-sex couples petitioning for privacy rights and access to healthcare information and medical insurance.

Republicans in the Iowa House are calling for the impeachment of the four remaining Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined the 2009 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Economy

A new study “provides some of the most detailed evidence yet that so-called millionaire taxes have little effect on the movements of millionaires as a whole.”

“A new US taskforce will investigate fraud in the oil and gas markets as soaring prices prompt accusations of profiteering and manipulation,” the Financial Times reports.

Bank of America “has pocketed about twice as much cash this year parking money at the Federal Reserve than it has paid to savings-account holders.”

Justice

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is suing the FEC to overturn a regulation that makes it easier for anonymous corporate donors to buy and sell elections.

A Montana trial judge ruled against marriage equality in that state.

A George W. Bush appointee tossed out yet another challenge to the Affordable Care Act on standing grounds. Among the plaintiffs’ many arguments in this case, they argued that the ACA is not constitutional because President Obama was born in Kenya.

Climate Change

“Softening federal clean air and water laws would be a blow to the local economy,” several green businesses told Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) on Wednesday.

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Media Matters has a round up of right-wing media ridiculing Earth Day, including Rush Limbaugh’s call to “grill a polar bear.”

Throughout eastern North Carolina, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler saw “unbelievable” damage to crops and farms from the tornado-spewing storm front that swept through the state on Saturday.

Immigration

Last night, the Alabama Senate approved an Arizona copycat immigration bill. The Indiana House voted 64–32 to pass a bill described as “a watered-down version of a proposal that originally would have allowed police officers to ask people for proof that they are in the country legally.” The East Valley Tribune reports that “after thousands of taxpayer dollars were spent on training materials for officers and hundreds of hours went toward enforcement training, agencies now are waiting for the courts to decide whether the law is constitutional.”

Health Care

“A federal judge in New Jersey has dismissed a lawsuit brought by two men who sought to block the federal health care reform law.”

“The White House’s new deficit plan has the drug industry crying foul, and that means Big Pharma may now join Big Insurers to push back on health reform.”

“UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s quarterly profit soared past estimates, fueled by growth across its health plans and continued benefits from Americans’ moderate use of health care services.”