The WonkLine: November 2, 2010

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.


President Obama backed away from comments he made last week in which he suggested that Republicans are “enemies” of Latinos. A U.N. investigator pointed out that migrants bear the brunt of discrimination around the world, and Arizona’s controversial immigration law is the kind of policy that could open the door to human rights abuses. The number of Latino voters who cast early ballots in this year’s legislative elections grew by 13 percent compared to 2006, a senior White House official reported.

National Security

“A major military and intelligence operation is under way in Yemen as authorities attempt to track down an alleged Saudi bomb-maker who is a key suspect in a foiled air cargo bomb plot over the weekend.”

“The United States’ offer to host talks between the country, Japan and China still stands.”

“President Nicolas Sarkozy of France was traveling to Britain on Tuesday to initiate defense agreements promising cooperation including a joint rapid deployment force, shared use of aircraft carriers and joint efforts on nuclear research.”


Guantanamo Bay has lowered America’s moral standing to the point where it is now scandalous that the Canadian government is negotiating with the United States.

Automakers seek lawsuit immunity from the Supreme Court.

Enron CEO Jeff Skilling is asking an appeals court to knock out his conviction after the Supreme Court undermined it earlier this year.

LGBT Equality

“Iowa voters will decide Tuesday whether three Iowa Supreme Court justices get to keep their jobs .”

“The Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone, which has initiated a campaign to out and encourage the murder of gays, has been shut down by a court order.”

“The District of Columbia leads the nation in male same-sex households.”


“General Motors will succeed in shrinking the federal government’s ownership stake to less than 50 percent in a $10.6 billion initial public offering later this month,” the New York Times reports.


Robert Marshall, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, “asked the state’s attorney general to launch an investigation of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, the middleman firm in millions of court filings that helps keep the mortgage-securitization machine moving.”

President Obama’s bipartisan debt commission “will begin meeting privately soon after Tuesday’s elections,” with just three weeks to craft a proposal for getting the budget into primary balance.


Inside Higher Ed explains how “the outcomes of today’s Congressional elections will shape debates on higher education for the next few years.”

Education Week looks at how the elections “could have major implications for the direction of federal education policy, the implementation of key state K-12 initiatives, and education spending at all levels.”


According to a new report from the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California Berkeley, “drastic reforms must be done within California’s higher education system in order to meet President Obama’s goal of the U.S. having the highest graduation rate by 2020.”

Climate Change

As a hurricane of Republican climate denial heads toward Washington, Tropical Storm Tomas is strengthening into a real hurricane that threatens Haiti with further devastation.

“It could take the Earth 100,000 years to recover” from global warming if fossil fuels continue to be burned at their current rate, the Geological Society warns.

Koch Industries’ subsidiary Flint Hills Resources runs the Pine Bend Refinery, “specifically designed to process heavy, sour crude piped in from Canada,” making it one of America’s biggest processors of the greenhouse-pollution-intensive Alberta tar sands.

Health Care

“While the health care reform law isn’t on the ballot today, the results of the midterm elections will have vast implications on the debate over the Democrats’ controversial legislation.”


“Voters in three states will cast ballots Tuesday on the new healthcare law’s individual mandate to buy insurance. Arizona and Oklahoma are expected to pass the state constitutional amendment, but it faces an uphill battle in Colorado.”

“Tuesday’s elections could have ramifications for a number of state insurance commissioner posts across the country.”