The WonkLine: December 6, 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.

National Security

“Dismayed by rising Taliban activity and persistent economic hardship, Afghans have turned more negative in their assessment of the presence and performance of U.S. and NATO forces in their country.”

“Iran and six world powers came to the table in Geneva today for the first time in a year, exchanged pleasantries, but remained far apart on how deeply their talks should tackle the West’s greatest concern — Iranian nuclear activities.”

“President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party has swept to a predictable huge parliamentary win, state media reported on Monday, after an election boycotted by Islamists who were crushed in a vote they said was rigged.”


The Supreme Court will hear a case this week which could establish whether draconian anti-immigration laws such as Arizona’s SB 1070 are constitutionally valid.

Ultra-conservative Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli may try to bypass the court of appeals and get the Supreme Court to review the Affordable Care Act as quickly as possible. Such an attempt is unlikely to succeed.

It’s anyone’s guess why the Senate will spend a day or more of its precious floor time on the impeachment trial of a federal judge when it hasn’t even voted on repealing DADT, the Dream Act, the START treaty or any judicial confirmations.


The White House and Congressional Republicans are reportedly close to a deal that would extend all of the Bush tax cuts, as well as provide an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.

“Worried that lawmakers will allow taxes to rise for the wealthiest Americans beginning next year,” Wall Street banks may move up their bonus payouts from next year to this month.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Elizabeth Warren is trying to wean the financial industry “off ‘hidden’ fees, such as overdraft charges, which can represent up to a third of core revenues for some banks.”


An Associated Press investigation finds that the U.S. has failed to crack down on student visa abuses, despite 20 years of warnings from government auditors.

“Research doctorate degrees were awarded to 49,562 students by American academic institutions in the 2008–9 academic year, the highest number ever reported,” according to a new report from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates.

Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee will announce today that she is launching a national advocacy group that “will draw on the natural grassroots power of teachers, parents and pupils.”

LGBT Equality

“This was supposed to be the year that the law banning gays from serving openly in the military would be repealed. President Obama and the top Pentagon brass made clear their distaste for ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

“Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) ripped into Sen. John McCain on Saturday, saying the Arizona Republican has issued a ‘dizzying’ defense of the Pentagon’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy banning gays from openly serving in the military.”

“A dramatic new chapter in the legal fight over Proposition 8 opens today, with debate over the purpose of marriage, the power of social convention and the rights of gay individuals televised live from federal court for the first time.”

Climate Change

“A national program that paid farmers millions of dollars for reducing greenhouse gases has fizzled amid uncertainty about U.S. climate legislation and will no longer taken enrollment after this year.” “Even when we’re underwater, when the bubbles pop, you’ll hear us yelling,” says Seychelles delegate Ronny Jumeau. Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, says “devastating flooding forced him to cancel his scheduled trip to the United Nations’ climate change conference this week” — even though global warming itself is what is affecting his nation, he says.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Saturday the Senate would hold procedural votes this week on a series of Democratic-backed bills, including the DREAM Act. The Hill reports that “Republicans and centrist Democrats are already lining up to shoot it [the DREAM Act] down,” including Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) — a former sponsor of the bill. An upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act which cracks down on employers will set the stage on the most disputed issue in immigration law: Can states and cities enforce their own laws?

Health Care

“Congressional Republicans are hoping to put Democrats in a no-win new year’s jam: defund a big chunk of their health care overhaul or slash Medicare payments instead.”

“The Virginia attorney general’s office is considering a petition to fast track the state’s challenge to federal health-care legislation so the case would bypass the appellate court and be heard directly by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“A Republican senator is planning on introducing legislation this week that would allow state officials to challenge federal regulations before they go into effect.”