The WonkLine: February 25, 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.


Wisconsin Republicans in the state assembly early this morning passed a bill stripping Wisconsin public employees of their collective bargaining rights, without leaving enough time for most Democrats to vote.

The bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors yesterday called the spending plan passed over the weekend by House Republicans an “un-American atrocity.”


Banks oppose a plan that would have them modify mortgages instead of paying fines for their role in ongoing mortgage scandals.


A new poll finds overwhelming opposition to right-wing proposals to rewrite the Constitution to strip Americans of their citizenship.

The Supreme Court rejects the auto industry’s attempt to claim lawsuit immunity against state suits ensuring that their vehicles are safe.

Alabama will try — again — to remove racist language from its constitution that applies an unconstitutional poll tax and requires separate schools for blacks and whites.

LGBT Equality

“The Maryland Senate narrowly approved legislation Thursday that would legalize same-sex marriages after a day of emotional and often personal debate laced with references to religion and civil rights.”


In the wake of the Department of Justice’s decision Wednesday to drop its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, potential presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) called on House Speaker John Boehner to defend the law in court.

“President Obama’s decision to abandon his legal support for the Defense of Marriage Act has generated only mild rebukes from the Republicans hoping to succeed him in 2012, evidence of a shifting political climate in which social issues are being crowded out by economic concerns.”

National Security

“Reports from Libya indicate thousands may have been killed or injured as the government crackdown escalates ‘alarmingly,’ UN human rights head Navi Pillay has said.” “Hundreds of thousands of protesters turned out in cities across the Middle East on Friday to protest the unaccountability of their leaders and express solidarity with the uprising in Libya that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is trying to suppress with force.” “The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in ‘psychological operations’ to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned — and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.”

Climate Change

Newt Gingrich is speaking to the Virginia Cardiovascular Association in Fairfax, VA, on Saturday, but he probably won’t mention the new Lancet study that found dirty air is the top trigger of heart disease.


Severe weather swept through the nation, leaving a path of destruction in Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

“New Hampshire appears to be on its way out of the nation’s first government program designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions,” after its Koch-driven legislature voted to drop out of RGGI.


The American Federation of Teachers yesterday unveiled a new plan for overhauling how teachers are evaluated and dismissed.

The New Teacher Project lays out the case against quality-blind layoffs.

“The U.S. Education Department has vowed to revamp a program designed to forgive the student loan debt of disabled borrowers after an investigation by the nonprofit journalism entity ProPublica found significant abuse in the program.”

Health Care

“As part of a 12-year-old lawsuit against the tobacco industry,” the “Justice Department wants the largest cigarette manufacturers to admit that they lied to the public about the dangers of smoking, forcing the industry to set up and pay for an advertising campaign of self-criticism.”

“New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed into law a ban on smoking in city parks, beaches, public plazas and boardwalks.”

“State Attorney General Roy Cooper says a North Carolina challenge to the federal health care overhaul is ‘unenforceable’ and could endanger federal health care funding to the state.” “State legislatures cannot pick and choose which federal laws the state will obey,” Cooper wrote.


According to a new poll conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, 57 percent of Americans oppose changing the Constitution’s 14th amendment that grants automatic citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has spent over $1.5 million in donated funds defending herself and the state against lawsuits stemming from the state’s controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070. A bill that would require Utah to set up a pool of money to reimburse medical workers and hospitals for serving undocumented immigrants cleared the state House yesterday.