POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Budget Talks Fizzle

The Senate ended months of deadlock and passed a bill that 87 percent of its members wanted. Paul Ryan's proposed budget promises to do everything under the sun short of eliminating coffee breath. And all those Hill staffers who tell their parents they have the ear of the congressman will have some explaining to do when they're deemed "non-essential" during a government shutdown. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 5th, 2011:

BUDGET TALKS BREAK DOWN - Okay guys, we get it. You're serious! Time to cut it out. Ha ha! Very funny! We'd like our national parks open, guys! We've all had fun but why don't we ... GUYS???. After a contentious White House meeting with the president and members of congressional leadership this morning, Speaker John Boehner announced that the White House has rejected a one-week continuing budget resolution offered by House Republicans. After the meeting, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer chided, "You would think if you're going to reach a compromise, we get two, they get one," he said, referring to the Democrats' control of the White House and Senate. " It appears that one side doesn't want to compromise." [HuffPost's Budget Liveblog]

A meeting between Harry Reid and John Boehner also was a dud. "The Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader sat down privately and had a productive discussion," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told reporters in an e-mail. "They agreed to continue working on a budget solution."

BOEHNER RAISES BUDGET COMPROMISE TO $40 BILLION - Democratic and Republican sources confirmed to David Rogers that Boehner has upped the ante and raised the Republican budget compromise number by $7 billion. A White House official responds to Sam Stein: "Does that sound like someone who is serious about finding common ground and averting a shutdown? [HuffPost's Budget Liveblog]

President Obama, making a surprise appearance at the press briefing before Boehner's counteroffer went public: "There is no reason why we should not get an agreement... We have now matched the number that the Speaker originally sought. The only question is whether politics and ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown." [HuffPost's Budget Liveblog]

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ TO HELM DNC - With outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine leaving his post to run for the Virginia Senate seat being vacated by Jim Webb, NBC News is reporting that Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been selected to take his place. The Florida lawmaker will be the first woman to chair either the DNC or the Republican National Committee. She will continue to serve as the representative of the Sunshine State's 20th congressional district. [First Read]

Wasserman Schultz is a prolific fundraiser, inexhaustible campaigner and on good terms with Wall Street -- the perfect DNC head for this White House

Former White House communications staffer and Chicago for Rahm aide Ben LaBolt has been tapped as Obama 2012's national press secretary, Sam Stein reports.

FRANK COMES OUT AGAINST DURBIN, PUSHES FOR SWIPE FEE DELAY - Barney Frank, in a statement this morning: "The Federal Reserve's announcement that they cannot meet the deadline on interchange fees confirms my view that this is the only part of the financial reform bill that needs to be amended. For this reason, I support legislative action to postpone the deadline so that we can revisit it." That almost guarantees a landslide vote in the House banking committee for a two-year delay of rules that would reduce swipe fees on debit cards.

The Hill will be featuring a piece from Debbie Siegelbaum about congressional aides being furloughed.

Tonight in Roll Call: "To prod lawmakers to approve a long-stalled free-trade agreement, the South Korean government is turning to its secret weapon in the United States: Korean-Americans, writes Roll Call's Bennett Roth. The South Korean government has paid the Edelman public relations firm $10,000 monthly to reach these voters with ads in both English and Korean."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Three-time breast cancer survivor Mary Duffy of Redwood City, Calif. hoped and prayed health care reform would provide affordable health insurance ever since her days as a volunteer for the Obama campaign. Last year she signed up for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, pretty much fulfilling those hopes and prayers. But she made a late payment in March, and now she's been given the boot. "Is there not even a few days grace period at all for PCIP payment?" wrote Duffy in a letter to the local PCIP administrators in California, pointing out they cashed her first check in August even though the program didn't launch until October. Full story on HuffPost tomorrow.

DOUBLE DOWNER - For the second month in a row, the Treasury Department has boasted that the Home Affordable Modification Program has give more than 600,000 homeowners a shot at a permanent mortgage modification. For the second month in a row, it's worth knowing that fewer than 600,000 homeowners remain in active permanent modifications. HAMP is sad.

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PAUL RYAN'S BUDGET WILL MOW YOUR LAWN - The Budget Committee chairman this morning unveiled a sweeping budget proposal that he claims reduces spending by $6.2 trillion over the next decade, reduces the deficit by $4.4 trillion, lowers the top marginal income tax rate from 35 to 25 percent, creates a Windows operating system that isn't riddled with bugs, eliminates the designated hitter from Major League Baseball, convinces your ex-girlfriend that you've changed your ways and deserve a second chance, mandates that the clothes in J Crew fit you the way they fit the models in the catalogue and expedites production of the next season of Mad Men. The proposal assumes that health care reform will be repealed and that its repeal will cut $1.4 trillion in spending, despite CBO projections that it will actually reduce the deficit. His budget would also cut $389 billion from Medicare and $735 billion from Medicaid over the next decade. Also included in the proposal are an additional $923 billion in domestic programs. [HuffPost's Jon Ward]

With a government shutdown increasingly likely, congressional aides are vying to be deemed "essential" employees so they can work through the closure. Usually, a green badge, one of those rectangular boxes of business cards and a friendly rapport with the bouncer at Pour House is all most Hill staffers really need to validate themselves. Now, with a shutdown looming, the stakes are much higher. In a "Dear Colleague" letter, House Administration Committee Chairman Dan Lungren ordered members to draw up a list of staff whose presence is essential to helping end a possible shutdown. That sound you hear are hundreds of legislative directors politely sidestepping the anxious inquiries of thousands of legislative correspondents. Good time to work on grad school apps, kids. [HuffPost's Mike McAullif]

According to the guidelines cited by Lungren, essential employees are those "whose primary job responsibilities are directly related to constitutional responsibilities, related to the protection of human life or related to the protection of property." We really look forward to the stories about the congressperson who kept their staff asst on board because fetching those Chinese orders was "related to the protection of human life." [Roll Call]

@Todd_Zwillich: .@speakerboehner spox: 4pm meeting is in Reid's office. Reid: no it isn't. #itsnotgoinggreat

The RNC's parody of President Obama's 2012 announcement video has more YouTube hits than the video it spoofs. Wah Wah.

SENATE REPEALS HEALTH CARE REFORM 1099 TAX PROVISION - At long last, after months of debate, the Senate has put its differences and agreed to vote on a measure it agreed on. Josiah Ryan: "After a months-long battle, the Senate voted Tuesday, 87 to 12, to repeal the 1099 tax-reporting requirement in Democrats' healthcare reform bill. The measure now goes to the president, who is expected to sign it, making it the first part of his party's signature reform bill to be scrapped. The measure, initially included as a funding measure for the healthcare bill, does away with the requirement for companies to report to the IRS transactions valued at more than $600." [The Hill]

TIM KAINE ANNOUNCES SENATE CANDIDACY - After decidedly-unhappy-with-his-job Jim Webb declined to run for a second term in the Senate because he clearly wanted to spend more time reading Tom Clancy novels in his tool shed and adorning his study with oil paintings of hunters with their dogs, speculation quickly mounted that former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine would enter the contest to fill his seat. Well, big surprise that's happened. In an announcement video on his nascent campaign website, Kaine tried to portray himself as a fiscal hawk with a long history of spearheading budget-cutting initiatives. "As governor, I helped lead Virginia through the toughest economy in 70 years," Kaine says as folksy guitar music typically reserved for Folgers Coffee commercials plays in the background. "We cut billions of dollars from the state budget, tightened our belt and made government more efficient." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

Oh dear lord: Donald Trump is polling well among New Hampshire primary voters. In a new PPP survey of Granite State Republicans, Trump garners the support of 20 percent of respondents, second only to Mitt Romney who leads with 27 percent. You know what? We won't judge. Having the Department of Housing and Urban Development divert all its resources to massive condo projects on the West Side Highway and a renovated White House lined entirely with fake gold trim can't be that bad, right? [PPP]

For what it's worth, PPP also finds that Obama would beat trump 47 percent to 38 percent

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A feature on LSD documentaries and drug scare films with clips. We wish there was a cell phone ring that featured a British man soberly discussing mind-altering substances. [http://bit.ly/iic0TO]

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Winds remain, but the rain has disappeared. Hooray! 40 degrees makes it a bit chilly, but warmer than usual. Tomorrow: A beautiful day, with sun, blue skies, and temperatures reaching 60! Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- Americans are no so overweight that boat capacity levels are being lowered. USA! USA! [http://bit.ly/gf809Z]

- The preview for the National Day of Prayer indicates that Tim Pawlenty's video guy has an apocalyptic side project. [http://bit.ly/enoh4o]

- Co-anchor tricked you into licking your iPad on air and now you're seeking sweet, sweet revenge? There's an app for that. [http://bit.ly/fIO2uT]

- Famous writers at the typewriters. It's how people used to compile videos of cats doing funny things. [http://bit.ly/fqm1yd]

- If you're going to make a ship in a bottle, why not spare yourself some of the difficulty and build it with Legos? [http://bit.ly/fAD2gs]

- Rebecca Black's widely-loathed "Friday" performed on Mario Paint Composer. [http://bit.ly/hqdJeI]

- In the 1950s, Jim Henson filmed a series of commercials for the now-defunct Wilkins Coffee using early model Muppets. The commercials were, to put it mildly, ridiculously violent. [http://bit.ly/e3rzrW]

- Hot Wheels wins the week for most original marketing campaign. [http://chzb.gr/fjpISP]

TWITTERAMA

@lizzieohreally: Also, who wants to go the Natural History museum, like, today?

@jakehparrott: Paul Ryan's budget also made more shots than Butler last night. Barely.

@chrislhayes: My line about ppl at tea party protests resembling a casting call for a remake of Cocoon cut from column.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:30 pm: Jo Ann Emerson is the guest of honor at a "Special Evening," maybe the most suggestive description of a fundraiser we've ever heard. Eric Cantor will apparently be there [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

6:00 pm: Everyone's favorite legislative sociopath, Ben Nelson, who probably has some sort of "Rosebud"-like childhood trinket hidden away somewhere that he loves above all else, gets in league with some insurance dudes [Property Casualty Insurers Offices, 444 N Capitol NW, Suite 801].

6:00 pm: Sherrod Brown, Congress' most gravely-voiced lawmaker (who we think should start a 1-900 line so heavy smokers and Tom Waits impersonators can get together), passes the hat [Trattoria Alberto of Capitol Hill, 506 8th Street SE].

6:30 pm: Given its name, we assumed the "Fund for a Conservative Future" advocated for time itself to advance more slowly, meaning their fundraisers are likely just symposia on space-time relativity. Apparently it's Jim Inhofe's PAC. Whatever [P.J. Clarke's 1600 K Street NW].

TOMORROW

8:00 am: How will the always loquacious Sheila Jackson-Lee and a group of lawyers behave when put in a room together? Find out! [Law Offices of Baker & Hostetler, 1050 Connecticut Ave NW].

8:00 am: You can never start too soon. Fresh off her reelection last November, Patty Murray solicits donations [The Monocle Restaurant, 107 D Street NE].

8:30 am: The only funny person in Congress (on purpose) Anthony Weiner raises funds so he can continue to have a job until he runs for mayor of New York [DCCC, 430 South Capitol Street, SE 2nd Floor].

6:00 pm: Well this is genuinely awesome. David Scott attends an "Evening With A Legend" fundraiser. While "legend" status is typically awarded to D.C. types who didn't mess up the country TOO bad, Scott scored honest-to-God legend in home run king Hank Aaron [Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave NW].

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