The WonkLine: January 14, 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.


According to a report from the Inspector General for TARP, the bailout of mega-bank Citigroup was initiated based on “gut instinct and fear,” and Citi is still too big to fail.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner “has questioned the feasibility of identifying financial institutions as ‘systemically important’ in advance of a crisis, just as the regulatory council the Treasury secretary chairs is supposed to start doing precisely that.”

Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) wants to repeal a $1 billion corporate tax break that took effect only last week.

Health Care

“House Republican leaders said Thursday that they will begin their effort to repeal the new health-care law next week, a return to normal legislative business after the shootings in Arizona suspended activity on Capitol Hill.”


“While Republican state lawmakers are working to block federal health reform, many of them are signing up for coverage on the state employee health plan or equivalent subsidies of their personal health insurance costs.”

“Well-intentioned efforts to offer individuals and small groups great health benefits could push the price of coverage far out of reach, an America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) executive warns.”

Climate Change

“How many times do we have to be smacked in the face with factual evidence before we address global climate change? Report after report keep confirming it’s getting worse every year,” said Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said in a statement Wednesday.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) “will introduce sweeping legislation later this month to block the Obama administration and states from imposing climate rules.”


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “has vetoed the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history.”

LGBT Equality

“Under the leadership of a new governor who supports gays and lesbians, Hawaiian lawmakers are looking to resubmit a bill to legalize civil unions after the legislature reconvenes in Honolulu next week.”

“As the prospects for legalizing gay marriage have brightened in [Rhode Island], with a supportive new governor and House leadership, opponents this week released a TV ad urging against legislative action to pass it.”

“Gay marriage opponents said Thursday they are confident the New Hampshire state House will vote on legislation to repeal the law that sanctions gay marriage, even though Republican leaders have said it is not on their list of priorities this year.”


The Virginia Supreme Court rejected a claim that George Mason University’s ban on guns in its buildings violates the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court will decide whether police can enter your home without a warrant because they smell weed.

Not to be outdone by the Wisconsin GOP’s attempt to enshrine disenfranchisement in that state’s constitution, a Tennessee Republican lawmaker now wants to make the income tax unconstitutional in that state.


“Already, there are signs that some states and districts may be backing away from education overhaul goals because of the continuing economic doldrums,” Education Week reports.

An all-star roster of lobbyists goes to bat for the for-profit college industry.

Should Education Secretary Arne Duncan have plugged Kaya Henderson for D.C. schools boss?


Utah state officials stated that there would be no financial help to put on a Latino Day event planned at the Capitol and that the heat from the immigration debate drove that decision. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday that “judges in Virginia may not use an obscure writ to reopen the cases of immigrants who say they weren’t told that a criminal conviction could lead to their deportation.” Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has put a priority on abolishing the “sanctuary cities” which he claims “provide a haven for illegal immigrants in the Lone Star state.”

National Security

“The news in Lebanon was of Hezbollah’s toppling of the unity government. But the Shiite movement fears that if it seizes power it will seem more like a sectarian militia.”


“Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Friday invoked threats from North Korea and China’s modernizing military as reasons to strengthen the U.S. alliance with Japan and to keep U.S. forces strong in the Pacific.”

“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a scalding critique of Arab leaders here on Thursday, saying their countries risked “sinking into the sand” of unrest and extremism unless they liberalized their political systems and cleaned up their economies.”