The WonkLine: January 12, 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

“Haitians are preparing to mark the anniversary of the earthquake that devastated their country and left some 250,000 of their fellow citizens dead.”

“US Defense Secretary Robert Gates emphasized to Chinese leaders this week that two things had changed the Korean Peninsula ‘in a worrying way’ and said North Korea could become a ‘direct threat’ to the United States.” “Taliban militants in a brazen suicide attack rocked the capital Kabul leaving three persons including the bomber and an intelligence service staff dead and injuring 32 others in the morning rush hours Wednesday, Interior Ministry confirmed.”

LGBT Equality

“The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has drawn the ire from sections of the socially conservative base over their decision to allow gay-rights groups to take part in the event.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide soon whether to hear a case regarding the possibility of Washington, D.C. residents to vote in a referendum on the city’s same-sex marriage law.”

“California state assemblyman Tom Ammiano expects to introduce a tough antibullying bill, one on par with legislation recently passed in New Jersey that youth advocates call the strongest of its kind.”


The Supreme Court has long followed a policy of deferring to DC courts on matters of DC law. On Friday, the justices will decide whether to break with that policy and hear a case seeking to spirit of John C. Calhoun is alive and well in Florida, where far-right lawmakers are one step closer to enacting an unconstitutional law nullifying the Affordable Care Act.

Alaska’s Attorney General just declared a proposed ballot initiative unconstitutional which would provide that “the natural right to life and body of the unborn child supersedes the statutory right of the mother to consent to the injury or death of her unborn child.”


For months, Goldman Sachs insisted that no more than ten percent of its revenue comes from trading and investing for its own benefit. Turns out that wasn’t true.

Researchers have found that a California law ensuring paid family leave for workers has not been the job killer that businesses said it would be, but has actually “produced significant economic, social and health benefits.”

Big banks want New Jersey courts to stop bugging them about fraudulent foreclosure documents.

Health Care

“Supporters of the federal health care overhaul law are making a final plea to Maine officials to not join states that are challenging the law in court. But their request will likely to fall on deaf ears.”

“By delivering a more-than 200-page report to state legislators last week, members of the SustiNet board opened the next chapter in the debate over a proposed state-run health insurance plan.”

“Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other Republican governors are asking the federal government to give them more power to trim Medicaid eligibility to help control costs.”


A Tea Party backed school board in North Carolina has “abolished the policy behind one of the nation’s most celebrated integration efforts.”

According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, “President Obama will mount a fresh attempt this year to rewrite the No Child Left Behind education law.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) wants his education reform package passed and he wants it now.


Jill Lawrence of Politics Daily explains all the reasons why Rep. Steve King (R-IA) didn’t get the Immigration Subcommittee leadership position he was vying for. The American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest farm lobbying group, says if state lawmakers crack down on undocumented immigrants, they should also help farmers who need seasonal labor. Haitian-American leaders are imploring the Obama administration “to welcome tens of thousands of Haitians who were promised visas but remain in the crippled Caribbean country on waiting lists.”

Climate Change

With Cyclone Vince off the West Australian coast, the city of Brisbane is bracing for rising floods, while nearly one million people have been affected and 18 killed by flooding from torrential rain in Sri Lanka.

U.S. oil prices jumped two percent to top $91 a barrel on Tuesday “as the shutdown of two North Sea oilfields stoked supply concerns for markets already on edge from the closure of Alaska’s main crude pipeline.”

“At least 56 senators — just four short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster — will most likely support measures to hamstring climate rules, and an additional eight votes may be in play this Congress,” a POLITICO analysis shows.