The WonkLine: May 25, 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.

Health Care

Democrat Kathy Hochul “scored an upset in one of New York’s most conservative Congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party’s plan to overhaul Medicare.”

“We got some good news Tuesday about how the Affordable Care Act is helping people with Medicare get the health care they need,” HHS Secretary Sebelius writes. “Already this year, 271,000 seniors and people with disabilities have saved an average of $613.”


“Nursing homes have little to gain directly from the 2010 health law’s expansion of health coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans. That’s because nursing homes have few uninsured residents, as nearly all have private or government insurance.”


Public schools across the country “are shifting costs to students and their parents by imposing or boosting fees for everything from enrolling in honors English to riding the bus,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

David Leonhardt notes that “only 44 percent of low-income high school seniors with high standardized test scores enroll in a four-year college…compared with about 50 percent of high-income seniors who have average test scores.”

“The New Jersey Supreme Court rebuked Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday and ordered the state to increase spending on poor schools by an estimated $500 million,” the AP reports.

LGBT Equality

The White House has strongly objected to the various anti-gay amendments that were added to the National Defense Authorization Act.


PBS Frontline has investigated the background of Bradley Manning, the soldier who supported gay rights and allegedly leaked classified documents to Wikileaks.

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) has signed one and committed to signing two other bills that would prohibit discrimination against transgender Nevadans for employment, housing, and public accommodations.


The Tea Party wants to infiltrate public schools and teach “Constitution lessons” developed by a guy who “called Jamestown’s original settlers communists, wrote end-of-days prophecy and suggested Russians stole Sputnik from the United States.”

Proposed legislation to create three new federal judgeships in some of the nation’s most overstretched federal courts doesn’t go nearly far enough, but it’s a start.

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he is “disappointed” in his own conduct at the helm of the Department of Justice. So are we, Fredo. So are we.

National Security

The IAEA revealed yesterday that it possesses evidence that Iran “has conducted work on a highly sophisticated nuclear triggering technology that experts said could be used for only one purpose: setting off a nuclear weapon.”


Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday that “it would be a good thing” if some U.S. forces stayed in Iraq past 2011 to counter Iranian influence there.

A Syrian human rights group says Syrian troops and security forces have killed at least 1,100 civilians in their two-month campaign to crush pro-democracy demonstrations.


“State attorneys general told five of the nation’s largest banks on Tuesday they face a potential liability of at least $17 billion in civil lawsuits if a settlement isn’t reached to address improper foreclosure practices,” in addition to facing billions in claims from federal agencies.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) once again took taxes off the table during deficit reduction negotiations with Vice President Joe Biden, saying that “tax increases cannot pass the House.”

Senate Republicans break with the House Republican plan to dismantle Medicare.

Climate Change

Google Inc. is investing $55 million in a large Mojave Desert wind farm, pumping fresh air into California’s wind power industry.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), and James Woolsey are helping introduce Hertz’s all electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in its Washington, D.C. fleet today. A critical fire weather outlook covers nearly all of New Mexico.


The South Carolina House House approved an Arizona-style immigration bill by a 69–43 vote.

A Wisconsin Republican Assemblyman introduced an immigration bill that will require residents to carry identification.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, says Australia’s mandatory detention policy for asylum seekers breaches the nation’s international human rights obligations.