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The WonkLine: December 13, 2010

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.

Economy

Wall Street’s biggest banks “are set to complete their best two years in investment banking and trading, buoyed by 2010 results likely to be the second-highest ever.”

Bank of America Corp has put at least $1 billion of toxic mortgage assets up for sale as “part of a larger effort by the bank to unwind a trove of assets in the wake of the purchases of Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch.”

The New York Times explains how a secret banking elite rules trading in derivatives.

LGBT Equality

Senators on Friday “introduced a new bill, with bipartisan support, that would end the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ ban on gays serving openly in the military.”

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) “is co-sponsoring stand-alone legislation” to repeal DADT.

“The Czech Republic apparently will no longer require gay asylum seekers to undergo their very unpopular arousal tests to prove that they are homosexual.”

Climate Change

Extreme winter storms battered the entire nation, with record rainfall in Washington state, thunderstorms in Hawaii, and blizzards that killed four in the Midwest, while a huge storm brought destruction to Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, and flooding rain pounded Australia.

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“We have a long road ahead and limited time; the impacts of climate instability are already being felt,” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said in response to the Cancun climate agreement.

Crude oil prices jumped above 91 dollars today.

Education

Can Obama’s education agenda move in a Republican-led House?

Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta yesterday “called for a strong national commitment to ensuring that Americans master foreign languages, saying the issue is vital to U.S. security and competitiveness.”

Gov.-elect Rick Scott (R-FL) may criticize the stimulus, but it helped Florida colleges avoid deep cuts.

Health Care

“United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson is expected to issue a ruling targeting a provision of the act that requires individuals to either obtain a minimum level of health insurance coverage, or pay a penalty for failing to do so.”

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“Republicans rebuffed a Democratic effort to repeal health reform’s universally panned 1099 IRS reporting requirements as a piggyback in the tax cut deal.”

“Big employers faced with incorporating the first round of health-care changes next month are grappling with how to comply with the long list of new rules.”

Immigration

The Supreme Court “grappled last week over whether the state of Arizona has authority to implement standards and penalties on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): Roadblock to immigration reform.

“In New York, we know the economic power of immigration — because we see it every day,” said New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg in a speech last week.