The WonkLine: January 7, 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

“Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that the nation’s ‘extreme fiscal duress’ now required him to call for cuts in the size of the Army and Marine Corps, reversing the significant growth in military spending that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” “The top two U.S. specialists on North Korea issues met Thursday with their Chinese counterparts for discussions on a new round of six-party talks, as the Obama administration intensifies its efforts to coordinate a relaunch of dialogue with Pyongyang.” “The second-largest party in Pakistan’s governing coalition reversed its decision Friday to defect to the opposition, restoring the alliance’s parliamentary majority and staving off a possible government collapse.”

Health Care

“Republican governors are pressing the Obama administration to make it easier for states to cut Medicaid enrollment, setting up a fight over one of states’ costliest programs.”


“For the first time in the Obama presidency, the White House is without an Emanuel. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a health care adviser in the Office of Management and Budget, departed earlier this week.”

“Americans are closely divided over whether the new Republican-controlled House should vote to repeal the health care law that was enacted just last year, a Gallup Poll finds. But partisans on both sides are united: Republicans solidly back repeal, and Democrats overwhelming want to let the law stand.”


Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee said yesterday that she will continue to be an informal education adviser to Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL).

According to a new study from Harvard researcher Michael Hurwitz, “legacy status may matter a lot more in college admissions than previously estimated, offering an advantage of up to 45.1 percent.”


“The budget situation in Nevada is so dire that lawmakers there could cut more than twice the amount they spent on higher education last year and still not fill the state’s projected $1.2-billion shortfall,” the Chronicle of Higher Education notes.


“A group of Republican lawmakers demanded the repeal of the financial regulatory law” yesterday, led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). “They yearn to return to the thrilling days of yesteryear, so the loan arrangers can ride again — untrammeled by any rules restraining irresponsibility,’’ said Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

During congressional testimony today, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke “may put the brakes on some of Wall Street’s optimism surrounding a recent rebound in key economic data.”

Is tax reform around the corner?


Even Glenn Beck thinks the GOP’s decision to censor the unpleasant parts of the Constitution yesterday was “cowardly.”


Justice Antonin Scalia’s disturbing claim that the Constitution does not protect women and gay people against discrimination has sparked renewed interest in ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Illinois House voted to abolish the death penalty in that state, “moving the measure on to the Senate a decade after a moratorium on executions was put into place by former Governor George Ryan.”

LGBT Equality

“Republican lawmakers and conservative leaders hoping to impeach the four remaining Iowa Supreme Court justices over the 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage have not been dissuaded, despite Gov.-elect Terry Branstad‘s public denouncement of the idea.”

“New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Thursday, signed what many believe is the nation’s toughest law to fight bullying in institutions of learning.”

“Rhode Island may be poised to become the next state to legalize same-sex marriage as bills were introduced Thursday in the state’s House and Senate chambers aimed at doing just that.”