HUFFPOST HILL - Republicans Demand Urine

Now that CNN has canceled a primary debate, ill-informed Republicans will have to base their votes on a paltry 50,325,623 debates. So few women appeared on Darrell Issa's contraception panel that you'd be forgiven for confusing the panel with, uh, Congress. And the New York Times reported that [soon-to-be-former] Rep. Michael Grimm had shady business "ties." You'll know when Grimm is in trouble once those "ties" start being referred to as "associates." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 16th, 2012:

NEGOTIATIONS HINGED ON FEDERAL BENEFITS - WaPo: "Much of the deal hinged on the support of Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Maryland lawmakers who represent tens of thousands of current and former federal employees. As negotiations continued into early Thursday, the pair opposed plans to force all federal employees to pay more toward their retirement benefits to help pay for unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut extension. They agreed to the deal when both sides agreed to shield current federal employees from any pension changes. In an interview, Cardin shared details from the negotiations and said he plans to block any other Republican attempt to curtail federal pay and benefits." [WaPo]

The language of the conference agreement is now online

HOW MUCH PEE WILL THERE BE? - Republicans and Democrats disagree sharply over how many workers will wind up peeing in cups as a result of a payroll tax cut compromise bill that would allow states to drug test the jobless. The bill limits testing to laid off workers seeking new jobs in occupations where drug testing is common. Republicans cited a 2006 survey finding 84 percent of workers take drug tests to get hired. "That's total nonsense," Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich) told HuffPost Hill. "No way 80 percent." [HuffPost]

J. WELLINGTON WIMPY IN DA HOUSE - Mark Warner: "I somehow feel like this conference report that we'll be voting on tomorrow may reflect the thinking of a more obscure individual, someone that I recall as a child growing up, and that was Wimpy ... a cartoon character, Popeye's pal. 'I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.' Well, it seems on this economic policy we're taking today, deferring payment for this payroll tax policy, that Wimpy once again has won out."

AMERICA REMEMBERING THE LADIES, THOUGH MAYBE NOT IN THE BEST POSSIBLE FASHION - Sam Stein: "According to a Pew Research Center study, the attention being paid to the contraception debate has been greater than the news coverage. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said that they had followed the debate over the Obama administration's rule requiring religious institutions, such as hospitals and universities, to cover birth control in their health insurance plans. Just 12 percent said this was the story they followed closest. Compare that to economic news, which 42 percent of respondents said they followed very closely and 18 percent said was the story they followed the closest. With respect to the coverage itself, the two topics are getting near-equal billing. Pew found that 10 percent of news aired from Feb. 6 to Feb. 12 was devoted to the economy, while 8 percent was devoted to the birth control rule. The 2012 presidential campaign dominated both, with 22 percent of the coverage. [HuffPost]

MILLER NOT RUNNING FOR NC GOV, HINTS AT OTHER PLANS - Outgoing Rep. Brad Miller announced today he'd decided not to seek the Democratic nomination for North Carolina governor, saying that he wants to focus instead on bringing accountability to the Wall Street thugs (our words, not his) who stole your mothers 401k. "But the issues I have worked on in Congress for a decade are the injustice and dysfunction in our nation's economy. The financial crisis was not the result of a 'perfect storm' of unforeseeable economic events, but of blameworthy conduct, of what Franklin Roosevelt called 'heedless greed,' for which there has been too little accountability. Although my term in Congress expires at the end of the year, I believe I will have other opportunities to continue work on those issues." There are a few ways to go about that. One might be to set up a tent and try to reignite Occupy Charlotte. Another would be to lead the Eric Schneiderman task force charged with investigating banker wrongdoing. [bluenc]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The stigma of long-term unemployment is so bad that it actually raises the national unemployment rate, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. "Regardless of its initial cause, unemployment in general and long-term unemployment in particular can lead to subsequent difficulties for the affected workers," CBO says. "One mechanism by which unemployment reduces future employment prospects is through the stigma attached to long-term unemployment -- that is, an employer's inference that people who have been unemployed for a long time are low-quality workers." The CBO's economists estimate that stigma and erosion of skills among the jobless boosted the unemployment rate by a quarter of a percentage point since the start of the recession in December 2007. [CBO]

UPSIDE DOWNER - New unemployment claims are tumbling in what is unequivocally good news for our Saul Alinsky president: "In the week ending February 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 348,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 361,000," the Labor Department said today. "The 4-week moving average was 365,250, a decrease of 1,750 from the previous week's revised average of 367,000." [DOL]

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PELOSI: DOES MY GOOD FRIEND, THE GENTLEMAN FROM GEORGIA, KNOW WHAT THE HIP BONE IS CONNECTED TO? - If you're a Democratic minority leader in the House, your duties mostly consist of tossing off good one-liners and making sure Heath Shuler and co. don't propose that Discovery Communications Inc take over the Education Department. Nancy Pelosi succeeded at the former today. Jen Bendery: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday ripped House Republicans for holding a contentious hearing on birth control that included next to no female witnesses and even prevented one progressive woman from testifying, suggesting that she may need to step in and teach her male GOP colleagues a thing or two about the issue... "What else do you need to know about the subject?...If you need to know more, tune in, I may, I may at some point be moved to explain biology to my colleagues." [HuffPost]

Carolyn Maloney and Eleanor Holmes Norton walked out of the hearing held in Darrell Issa's oversight committee.

'PERRY PAC' WOULD BE FUN TO SAY - Rick Perry wants to start a PAC to promote candidates, advance issues and, uhhh, ummm, fly private?...WaPo: "Perry's campaign sent a request to the Federal Election Commission asking if he could turn his campaign into a political action committee or even possibly a so-called super PAC, a recently created type of political interest group. The request was released Thursday...If Perry were to turn his campaign into a PAC, he could accept contributions of up to $5,000 from one person to donate directly to other candidates or run his own advertising supporting them. If he decides to create a super PAC instead, he could raise unlimited amounts from individuals or corporations but could only spend the money without coordinating with the candidates he was helping. In the request, treasurer Salvatore Purpura said the campaign collected $270,000 for the general election that it kept in a separate bank account. The campaign has mailed letters to those donors asking if they'd be willing to let Perry keep their money for a PAC." [WaPo]

Here is a picture of Mitt Romney riding a horse

STRIKING A BLOW TO POSTERITY, CNN CANCELS DEBATE - But what will future historians do without some wildly offensive comment from Rick Santorum about contraception? Or Newt Gingrich's inevitable comparison of John King and Pol Pot? How will they discern the national mood? "Mitt Romney and Ron Paul told the Georgia Republican Party, Ohio Republican Party and CNN Thursday that they will not participate in the March 1 Republican presidential primary debate," the network said in a statement released today. "Without full participation of all four candidates, CNN will not move forward with the Super Tuesday debate. However, next week, CNN and the Arizona Republican Party will host all four leading contenders for the GOP nomination. That debate will be held in Mesa, Ariz., on February 22 and will be moderated by CNN's John King." SAD. [HuffPost's Elise Foley]

Santorum is up in Michigan: "Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has a slim lead over Mitt Romney...Santorum leads Romney 34 percent to 30.4 percent among likely Republican primary voters, but the gap is within the margin of error of 4.4 percentage points." [Detroit News]

BOEHNER ON PAYROLL TAX CUT DEAL: HELL NO YOU -- JUST DID - The Hill: "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday the deal struck to extend the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits was 'a fair agreement,' but he was in no mood to celebrate. The Speaker opened a press conference Thursday morning by acknowledging the bipartisan accord but was quick to tell reporters that the measure was an 'economic relief package' necessitated by the failure of President Obama's policies rather than a job-growth bill. 'The agreement that's been reached to stop a tax hike on middle class Americans is a fair agreement and one that I support,' Boehner said. 'Let's be honest, this is an economic relief package, not a bill that's going to grow the economy and create jobs.'" [The Hill]

Roll Call: "Speaker John Boehner this morning declined to rule out bringing a payroll tax compromise to the House floor on Friday, despite the fact that doing so could violate the chamber's three-day rule. When asked whether he would waive the rule, the Ohio Republican said there are still 'technical issues' that need to be worked out before the bill can be finalized." [Roll Call]

PAYROLL TAX DEAL HELPS SCOTT BROWN - Why? Because it lets him play moderate-to-liberal while still being the guy that reminds everyone of their high school soccer coach. Mike McAuliff: "Facing a tough election challenge from Elizabeth Warren, the popular architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Brown was among the first politicians on Capitol Hill -- and the first Republican -- to call for extending the 2 percent cut for a full year without paying for it...With Warren riding a populist surge of anger over income inequality, Brown has recently been touting his bipartisan and moderate votes, and the payroll outcome hands him a new plank to stand on, especially with his early advocacy for the deficit-spending solution. 'It's funny. I've been talking about it since then,' Brown told The Huffington Post. 'I talked about it in caucus. I brought it up . I let the people in the House know that.' No one took up his suggestion until Monday." [HuffPost]

MICHAEL GRIMM'S BUSINESS CONNECTIONS UNDER FIRE - An article published in the Times today raises questions about the Staten Island congressman's business "ties." Times: "Shortly before leaving the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2006...a young agent named Michael G. Grimm went into real estate, investing roughly $1 million of borrowed money in a luxury development in Texas...Seeking a builder to cooperate on the project, Mr. Grimm chose a former F.B.I. agent who had served with him in New York -- even though the former agent was under indictment on state racketeering and fraud charges, according to court and property records...Before becoming an F.B.I. agent for a decade, Mr. Grimm worked for a year for a small firm on Wall Street that frequently ran into problems with regulators and customers, regulatory filings show. But his official biographies do not mention the firm, Whale Securities. After he left the bureau, he opened a restaurant in Manhattan that has been accused in a lawsuit of cheating its workers and fined by the state for failing to carry workers' compensation." Hey Grimm, not sure if you know how this works, but the Lady won't let up until you step down or get beat. Sorry guy. [NYT]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - This is a cat wearing paper glasses dancing to dubstep. (TRIGGER WARNING: dubstep)

Ahhhhhhhh---Ahhhhmmmmmm soooooo in looooooove with yoooou. Jen Bendery: "Looks like Al Green will get to return the favor to President Barack Obama for making his 1971 classic 'Let's Stay Together' popular again -- and sending his record sales through the roof. Green will perform for the president and his supporters at a campaign fundraiser in San Francisco on Thursday night. 'He'll be performing at the dinner at a private residence this evening,' an Obama campaign aide told The Huffington Post. Obama is slated to give remarks at a campaign event in San Francisco at 7:10 p.m. PST, according to his daily schedule. ABC News reported Thursday that the event is taking place at the home of novelist Robert Mailer Anderson, with tickets priced at $38,500 each." [HuffPost]

By @bradjshannon!

- Rope swing, fixed improved. [http://bit.ly/whB9Br]

- Silly classical cover of "I Will Survive" via NPR. [http://bit.ly/zu3uKW]

- Middle school fad "fingerboarding" goes pro. [http://bit.ly/Ayrm5i]

- If fonts were cats... [http://bit.ly/AnUhM5]

- This guy knows what we're talking about. [http://bit.ly/ybOnrl]

- This guy definitely knows what we're talking about. [http://bit.ly/yGiPNd]

- Our caption for this video would be inappropriate, so just figure it out for yourselves. [http://bit.ly/xV9vtG]


@dceiver: So, will Virginia's transvaginal ultrasound wands be outfitted with "Virginia Is For Lovers" stickers?

@delrayser: Was struggling to figure out who the Dowager Countess of the GOP is until I realized they pretty much all are.

@FamousDC: [Insert Witty Tweet to Be Included in @HuffPostHill ]


6:30pm - 8:30pm: The title of Alan Simpson's new biography, "Shooting From The Lip" makes us think of spittle. A lot. But at least the party will be swanky. [1200 16th St., NW]

7:00pm - 9:00pm: Fishbowl DC hosts a party they wanted to keep a secret. Just like hundreds of journos felt about the news that they'd been fired. Oops. [2001 14th St., NW, invitation only]


7:15am - 9:30 a.m. Bisnow's Schmoozarama, because who isn't psyched to schmooze at seven in the morning? [Founding Farmers, 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW]

7:00pm: Now that he's not so busy with TV, Pat Buchanan's got plenty of time to toast his new biography, "Crusader: The Life and Tumultuous Times of Pat Buchanan." [5015 Connecticut Ave., NW]

7:00pm: The regular weirdos in Lafayette Park will get some company from new weirdos, when the Pray Without Ceasing Movement (PWCM) holds a White House Spiritual Tribute to Whitney Houston. [Across from the White House]

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