The WonkLine: March 23, 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

“International forces have launched new air strikes near Libya’s rebel-held western city of Misrata, witnesses say.”

“President Obama worked to bridge differences among allies about how to manage the military campaign in Libya, as airstrikes continued to rock Tripoli early on Wednesday. Forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, however, showed no sign of ending their sieges of rebel-held cities as the international effort to contain them entered its fifth day.”


“Radioactive iodine detected in the capital’s water supply spurred a warning for infants on Wednesday as the government issued a stark new estimate about the costs of rebuilding from the earthquake and tsunami that slammed into the northeast of Japan this month.”

LGBT Equality

An investigation by Equality Matters reveals that Chick-Fil-A has contributed more than $1.1 million to anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

Several transgender residents of NYC are suing to overturn an outdated law that prohibits them from updating their gender on their birth certificates and other identification documents.

A judge adjourned the deportation proceeding of Argintinian Monica Alcota, who married her same-sex partner Cristina Ojeda in CT, leaving room for her to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act and have her marriage recognized on the federal level.


Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to force state employees and welfare recipients to undergo an expensive battery of drug tests, even as he complains about how his state spends too much money.

Wisconsin’s Republican Attorney General is trying to appeal an order suspending that state’s new anti-union law.

Supreme Court spouse Ginni Thomas is now writing for the right-wing Daily Caller.


The undocumented parents of a 4 year-old U.S. citizen daughter who was sent back to Guatemala by immigration authorities are struggling to bring her back home to the U.S. As his campaign for Arizona’s 2012 GOP Senate nomination revs up, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is explicitly rejecting his past advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform. The Arizona Republic points out that “Hundreds of thousands of children born to illegal immigrants every year would no longer be eligible to join the military if efforts to restrict birthright citizenship are successful.”

Health Care

Today is the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law, which, once fully implemented will cover 32 million Americans and begin to lower the rate of growth in health care spending.


Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has joined Sens. LIsa Murkowski (R-AK) and Scott Brown (R-MA) “in opposing defunding Planned Parenthood, alongside her previous opposition to ending the Title X program.”

“Even if the House moves ahead on those bills to shut down the $105 billion in automatic funds, Rep. Steve King says that’s no substitute for doing it through a final CR.”


“Laying bare the country’s most startling example of modern urban collapse,” new census data shows that Detroit’s population had fallen 25 percent over the last decade.

“The Federal Reserve turned a record $81.7 billion profit in 2010, up 53 percent from 2009”; $79.3 billion of this will be turned over to the U.S. Treasury.

“Bank of America will still seek permission for a modest increase in its common dividend in the second half of the year, although the Federal Reserve objects,” CNBC reports.


A Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that Gov. Chris Christie’s (R-NJ) education cuts violated the state constitution, as they fall harder on poor districts.


“The number of U.S. schools with such poor graduation rates that they are known as ‘dropout factories’ fell by 6.4 percent between 2008 and 2009,” according to a new report.

The Maryland state senate has approved a bill tightening regulation of for-profit colleges.

Climate Change

“Coal will be a part of the energy portfolio in America for the future,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said yesterday.

“Congressional Republicans’ plan to cut Commodity Futures Trading Commission funding to 2008 levels would allow for manipulation of energy markets and could lead to higher U.S. oil prices,” more than 40 Senate Democrats said in a letter.

Of the $32 million the U.S. Chamber spent on the 2010 midterm election, 94% went to candidates who are climate deniers.