The WonkLine: May 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.

Climate Change

“A TransCanada pipeline that carries tar sands oil into the U.S. from Canada had to be shut down for inspection Saturday after spilling about 21,000 gallons of tar sands oil in southeastern North Dakota,” according to news reports. In a letter to Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), “the physician leaders of the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association and other health groups pointed to a broad range of peer-reviewed studies that ‘establish a clear link between air pollution and a range of serious adverse human health effects.’” “Flooding along the Mississippi River, already swamping cities and farmland and crimping business from river barges to casinos, could cost billions.”


Bloomberg notes that Speaker Boehner (R-OH), during his speech before the Economic Club of New York on Monday, made “several assertions that are contradicted by market indicators and government reports.”


General Motors announced yesterday that it plans to “invest $2 billion in its factories in the United States to meet gradually growing demand for its products in the aftermath of its government-sponsored bankruptcy.”

“The U.S. regulator for commodities trading threatened Goldman Sachs Group Inc. with possible civil-fraud charges over the firm’s role in clearing trades for a client,” according to a Goldman disclosure form.


The Chronicle of Higher Education finds that teachers working for Kaplan’s for-profit colleges were pressured to falsify attendance records and grades, to keep student aid flowing to the school.

The Southern Poverty Law Center “has filed a federal complaint against Durham County schools, alleging a pattern of discrimination against Latino students.”


The Tennessee House has advanced a bill that, while not as draconian as previously considered measures, would still strip teachers of many of their collective bargaining rights.

LGBT Equality

The U.S. State Department, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), and the Archbishop of Canterbury have all condemned Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, which may be approved this week, but also may end up not being considered. Air Force Major Margaret Witt has settled her DADT suit with the Pentagon; she will retire with full benefits and her discharge will be removed from her record. A new study shows that not protecting transgender citizens from employment discrimination is costing Massachusetts millions of dollars a year.

National Security

President Obama is preparing a fresh outreach to the Muslim world in coming days, “one that will ask those in the Middle East and beyond to reject Islamic militancy in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death and embrace a new era of relations with the U.S.”

NATO carried out its most forceful attacks in weeks against Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in an apparent coordinated push with rebels there to force the Libyan leader from power.


A confidant and cousin to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the ruling elite will fight to the end to maintain power against those demonstrating for political reforms.

Health Care

“Health Care for America Now (HCAN) breaks down the state of play ahead of Tuesday’s appeal of the healthcare reform law in a new column this morning at the Huffington Post.”

“As Republicans inch away from their plan to reshape the nation’s Medicare program, their equally transformative ideas for Medicaid, now largely in the shadows of the budget debate, are moving front and center.”

“House Republican freshmen wrote a letter to President Obama on Tuesday urging him to get Democrats to ‘stop the political rhetoric’ and abandon “Mediscare” tactics.”


In yesterday’s immigration speech, Obama declared meaningful immigration reform is just as much an “economic imperative” as a moral one, arguing that innovation from immigrants was crucial to job growth.

A day after President Obama’s immigration speech in Texas, Senate Democrats plan to renew the fight for the DREAM Act.

Libyan students at American universities face an uncertain future after the U.S. froze $30 billion of the Qaddafi’s government’s assets, their main source of funding, last February. Without the necessary funds to keep student status, nearly 2,000 Libyan students could eventually face deportation.


Remember when the Republican Party first proposed the individual mandate in 1991 and then widely supported it in 2008? Thankfully, the Fourth Circuit appears to agree with the GOP circa 2008 and disagree with the GOP circa 2011.

A federal judge blocked a Utah law allowing police to check the citizenship status of anyone they arrest.

The Texas legislature refuses to repeal the state’s “homosexual conduct” law, even though it was declared unconstitutional eight years ago.