The WonkLine: January 11, 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.


Ford announced yesterday “that it plans to hire 7,000 new workers in the United States by the end of 2012 behind expectations of an improving economy and growing car sales.”

In a 63-page report set to be released today, Goldman Sachs will, for the first time, “start disclosing how much revenue comes from the firm’s own trading and investing.”

New York judges have had enough of lawyers processing shoddy paperwork to speed foreclosures.

LGBT Equality

“Weeks after Congress voted to repeal the law banning gays from serving openly in the military, opponents of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ returned to court on Monday seeking to press ahead with their lawsuit against the policy.”

“McDonald’s says it has begun lifting the blocks on some gay websites in its New Zealand restaurants.”

“Uganda’s top opposition leader on Monday said the country’s police have more pressing tasks than investigating homosexuality and suggested he would decriminalise the practice if elected.”


Nebraska Sen. Beau McCoy is the latest state lawmaker to push an unconstitutional bill nullifying the Affordable Care Act.


Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) is debating whether to join Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) in trying to Calvinball President Obama’s judicial nominees into oblivion.

It’s not every day that Justice Antonin Scalia kicks off an oral argument by asking “what do you think about Satan?” Scalia’s question came after a drug company claimed it should be immune from securities fraud law because someone once falsely believed another company was Satanic. Yes, this was an actual argument presented to the Supreme Court.

National Security

In an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel, the head of the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano notes that, “Despite all unanswered questions” about Iran’s intentions, “we cannot say that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.”

“China confirmed it held its first test-flight of a stealth fighter jet on Tuesday, a show of muscle during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates aimed at defusing military tensions between the two big powers.”


“Southern Sudanese officials say 10 people were killed in an attack near the north-south border, as people continue to flood polling stations to vote in a landmark referendum on southern Sudan’s independence.”

Health Care

“Implementation of key elements in the federal health care overhaul law would be blocked in Nebraska under a measure introduced Monday by state Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha.”

“As Republicans in Congress consider a vote to repeal federal health care reform, Maryland officials are poised to begin taking specific steps this year to implement the law.”

“Even as House Republicans press to repeal the health care law, government advisers this week are preparing to wade into one of the most contentious questions raised by the legislation: What benefits must insurers cover?”


Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D-CA) proposed budget “would strip $1.4 billion from public higher education institutions,” including $500 million each from the University of California and California State University and $400 million from California Community Colleges.


Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) “says he wants to do away with a cap in tuition increases at the state’s public universities.”

A judge ruled yesterday that New York City “may release performance rankings of thousands of teachers to the public, denying a request by the teachers union to keep the teachers’ names confidential.”


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is calling on conservatives to step up their outreach to Latinos, writing that “the center-right movement” is a natural home for the Latino electorate. A handful of demonstrators arrested in July 29 protests against SB-1070 have chosen to fight instead of pay a $450 fine, putting the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office on trial over selective enforcement. Nebraska police are investigating after several state lawmakers received an ominous e-mail imploring them to pass a tough immigration law, stating “we shed blood to build this country, and we will shed blood again to take it back.”

Climate Change

The bipartisan commission appointed by President Obama to investigate last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster is “set to recommend a higher liability level for companies involved in a spill, more time for federal regulators to review drilling permits and a host of other ways to update federal and industry safety and oversight” to change the “ culture of complacency around safety issues within the oil and gas industry.”

“The worst flooding in the Australian state of Queensland in 50 years” has killed 18 people [and] could send food prices soaring.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday “refused to hear a request to reopen a lawsuit that charged energy companies with contributing to the effects of Hurricane Katrina by emitting greenhouse gases.”