The WonkLine: November 29, 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.


Retired Justice John Paul Stevens drafts a book review explaining his opposition to the death penalty.

What do you do when your ideological allies win a single election? If you’re the Federalist Society, try to pass a constitutional amendment banning all progressive policy. Forever. Religious right leader Bill Donohue is mailing religious displays to all fifty states with instructions to display them in public squares.


Admissions representatives at for-profit Everest College were instructed to make prospective students feel hopeless about their lives in an effort to convince them to enroll,” according to a court filing obtained by the Deseret News.


“After dropping for decades, average class sizes in American schools may be growing again as schools cope with budget shortfalls,” Education Week reports.

Rahm Emanuel: the education mayor?

LGBT Equality

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Sunday “the Senate likely doesn’t have enough Republican votes during Congress’ lame-duck session to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military.”

“Mayoral candidate Gery Chico is urging the legislature to pass a bill that would allow civil unions. Chicago met with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at a North Side restaurant Sunday. The bill, which may be considered by the general assembly this week, would make civil unions legal for same sex couples in Illinois.”

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, a gay Marine honorably discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” tells his story.

Health Care

“Job-based health care benefits could wind up on the chopping block if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans get serious about cutting the deficit.”


“The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) said it plans to ask the federal government for a waiver that would give health plans more time to meet restrictions on how they spend premium dollars.”

“Obama administration officials this week told a federal judge that even if the healthcare reform law’s individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, other parts of the law should be allowed to stand.”


European Union officials yesterday announced an 85 billion ($113 billion) bailout of Ireland and its banks, which Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen called “absolutely essential for the country.”

“Trading in credit-default swaps, Wall Street’s fastest-growing business before the credit crisis, has tumbled 40 to 60 percent from three years ago as banks prepare for new regulation of derivatives,” Bloomberg reports.

The Huffington Post reports that “Elizabeth Warren was the first senior Obama administration official to recognize the potentially incendiary impact of a bill that would have made it significantly easier for mortgage companies to foreclose on homes.”

Climate Change

“In the first comprehensive global survey of temperature trends in major lakes, NASA researchers determined Earth’s largest lakes have warmed during the past 25 years in response to climate change.”


Outside observers are optimistic that “negotiators will agree on the UN’s proposed reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation mechanism, known as REDD+,” at the international climate negotiations beginning today in Cancun.

“The UK’s Royal Society has published a detailed study of how the world will look when it is 4 °C warmer,” which could happen as early as 2060.

National Security

“A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world.” CNN reports that “the Republican senator [Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl] who opposes ratification this year of a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia made clear Sunday that politics, not policy, is the main issue.” “South Korea will abandon its long-standing policy of not responding militarily to the North’s hostile acts, President Lee Myung-bak said.”


Latinos, feeling neglected by both parties, are discussing forming an independent “Tequila Party.” A group of Colorado conservative lawmakers is hosting a summit on illegal immigration today in preparation for introducing an Arizona-style immigration bill in the legislature in January. Though Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott’s (R) spokesperson says an Arizona-like immigration bill “hasn’t fallen down our priority list,” he “did not breathe a word about illegal immigration or the Arizona approach” when state lawmakers went into special session.