HUFFPOST HILL - Debt Ceiling Transforms Everyone Into 3rd Graders

HUFFPOST HILL - Debt Ceiling Transforms Everyone Into 3rd Graders

North Dakota isn't technically a state ... but, then again, you already kinda knew that. Mark Warner's rigatoni might be the only thing standing between America and fiscal insolvency. And the level of civility on the Hill plummeted faster than America's credit rating: It's bad enough when lawmakers call one another "childish" or question each other's ability to speak English, but when BOTH happen on the SAME DAY, you know there's trouble ahead. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, July 14th, 2011:

BERNANKE AND HUFFPOST HILL ON SAME PAGE, UNIVERSE IMPLODING - When Ben Bernanke comes to the Hill, that means there are at least four dudes around who think all this talk of cutting spending is horseshit that needs to be shoveled and cleared from the streets so traffic can get moving again. And Bernanke is smart. "I only ask," he told a Senate panel, "as Congress looks at the timing and composition of its changes to the budget, that it does take into account that in the very near term the recovery is still rather fragile, and that sharp and excessive cuts in the very short term would be potentially damaging to that recovery." See? [Reuters and, last year, HuffPost]

GEITHNER, BERNANKE WARN AGAINST DEFAULT - Mike McAuliff: "With members of Congress stuck squabbling over a debt agreement, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner bluntly warned them Thursday that time is nearly up. 'We have looked at all available options, and we have no way to give Congress more time to solve its problem," Geithner said at a Capitol Hill news conference. 'We are running out of time.' The Treasury secretary has warned that the United States won't be able to pay all of its bills after Aug. 2 if Congress doesn't raise the cap on its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. And the consequences would be catastrophic, Geithner has warned, starting with interest rates spiking on U.S. debt and the government having to decide who it won't pay, from senior citizens to the unemployed, to government contractors and whole branches of government. Many economists fear it would spark a new recession." Bernanke: "Loss of investor confidence could potentially raise interest rates quite significantly." [HuffPost]

BROKEN NEGOTIATION GROUP IS AMERICA'S BEST HOPE - The Gang of Five have reportedly been ... just ... jamming, man -- so much so that ex-member Tom Coburn is mulling a return. "We've worked tonight, made a lot of progress," Kent Conrad said yesterday. "We got people reducing things to writing tonight, and ... we'll see when we get back together tomorrow if people want to go forward." Alexander Bolton reports the group met last night over a pizza and pasta dinner to discuss possible avenues for deficit reduction. Bolognese is the new backroom. [The Hill]

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST SEES THROUGH YOUR DISGRUNTLED DEBT MUD-SLINGING - Our Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist often says that if at first you don't succeed, increase your Paxil regimen, consult your analyst and try, try again. PSLGOPL is TIRED of all the media sniping. "You gotta love reporters from the Too Big To Fail media outlets using irresponsible anonymous quotes from disgruntled sources 'close' to the debt limit negotiations to color their soap opera stories, which generate the clicks they crave from getting linked to Drudge," PSLGOPL writes. "And really enjoy watching the top brass from those same mainstream media outlets do cable hits and wring their hands that Congress is acting 'irresponsibly' with the full faith and credit of the American economy as if their decisions to print the stories including unsourced and disgruntled quotes didn't do more than anyone involved to create a 'crisis' in the first place." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

CONGRESSIONAL BASEBALL GAME TONIGHT - Lawmakers from both parties will take a break this evening from creating and then trying to avert economic catastrophe to throw balls at each other. "The Democratic team hopes to extend its winning streak to three, while the Republican squad expects that an infusion of freshman talent will earn it the victory...The game is the third in the current best-of-five-game series for the coveted Roll Call trophy. Ticket sales benefit the Washington Literacy Council and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington." [Roll Call]

Radio Rootz, a youth media education program based in DC and New York, teaches poor kids about multimedia journalism, so as to entice them into a career in journalism and keep them poor. They're launching a small-dollar fundraiser that'll be featured on tomorrow, but you don't have to wait that long to give.

Speaking of giving: The Obama-praised do-gooder whose nonprofit is tanking received hundreds in donations following a profile by HuffPost's Andrea Stone.

HuffPost Hill's own Cannabis Carly Schwartz has (of course) helped launch HuffPost's San Francisco local page. San Francisco is a lot like Washington D.C., except without the rampant self-promotion, lax personal ethics, disgusting weather and Chris Cillizza. [HuffPost Es Eff]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Ernie Soto walked away from his underwater mortgage on a home in Alamogordo, N.M. early in 2010 after his fledgling mechanic business faltered. He and his wife moved into a nearby trailer. Now, a year and a half later, Soto's got a new job at a furniture rental store, to which he said he commutes more than 200 miles a day for training -- and his old house is just sitting there, vacant. (The average foreclosure is delinquent for 580 days.) Soto said he told himself, "OK, I'll move my ass back in there." So that's what he did Tuesday. He said he told the mortgage servicer, Ocwen, that he wanted to work something out. He said he's going to have to fork over $1,100, however, to get the electricity and gas reconnected. "We're hoping we can get it all fixed," Soto said. "I didn't expect this kind of expense. A few years back I could have told you it was nothing, I had it in my front pocket."

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REID AND MCCONNELL FORGE 'HYBRID' DEBT PROPOSAL - No, it has nothing to do with the mix-CD-filled car that HuffPost Hill tools around town in. The Senate's two party leaders have reportedly come to tentative agreement on a last-resort solution to the current debt ceiling standoff. Sam Stein: "The plan, which is being hatched by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would ensure that over $1.5 trillion in cuts over ten years be passed into law. It would also grant President Obama the authority to extend the debt ceiling through the 2012 election season while requiring him to propose -- but allowing him to ultimately veto -- cuts beyond those initial $1.5 trillion. Additionally, the deal would create a new 'deficit commission' comprised solely of lawmakers who would be tasked with finding additional savings in the budget. The commission's recommendations would be given automatic, amendment-free votes in both chambers of Congress." So, essentially, congressional leadership wants to restructure our form of government and the whole how-a-bill-becomes-a-law thing. [HuffPost]

JOHN BOEHNER TURNS DOWN WORKING VACATION - The House speaker today turned down an invitation from President Obama to hash out their debt disagreements at Camp David this weekend. But there are tire swings and tennis courts and shuffleboard courts and ice cream sundae Thursdays and flashlight tag and water skis!. "The speaker has told the White House he sees no need to go to Camp David this weekend," Boehner flack Michael Steel said of the snub. Maybe the speaker is waiting for a Camp David Living Social deal or something? At a press conference today, Boehner and Eric Cantor tried to temper rumors that the right hand doesn't know what the Young Gun hand is doing. "We have been in this fight together," Boehner said as he awkwardly shuffled up next to Cantor and put his arm around the majority leader. "Any suggestion that the role Eric has played in these meetings is anything but helpful is just wrong." Thanks, John! [Roll Call]

REID: CANTOR ACTING 'CHILDISH' - Now that Moody's is threatening a rating downgrade and congressional negotiators seem to be stuck in the debt ceiling mud, lawmakers are reverting to what they do best: NAME-CALLING!!!. "Another Republican said Cantor is putting himself first," Reid said on the Senate floor today. "The time for personal gain and political posturing are over." He also called the House majority leader "childish." Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring fought back: "It's not surprising that Harry Reid doesn't want to cut spending and wants to raise taxes with so many Americans out of work," he said. "This isn't a question about personalities -- Eric, President Obama or Harry Reid -- it's about doing what is right for the country." All this comes on the heels of President Obama getting cranky with the Virginia lawmaker during a closed-door White House meeting. This can only end with Chuck Schumer appearing on the Sunday shows alongside Mitch McConnell and declaring, "stupididiotwhowantstodefaultthecountrysays'what'." [Politico]

ELIZABETH WARREN HOUSE OVERSIGHT HEARING GETS REAL - The CFPB adviser -- who is kind of an American progressive Anita Pallenberg if Anita Pallenberg spent less time doing coke with Mick Jagger and more time reading up on credit default swaps -- appeared before the panel today. Here's Rep. John Tierney to Chairman Darrell Issa in regards to some procedural disagreement: "What part of the English language don't you understand?" Then there was Rep. Jim Cooper, who was just fed up with the committee's bickering. "Some of us come here and we get so used to the food fight that we want it to continue. And you'll probably score brownie points if you make your partisan hit. You might even get on a better committee," he said. "Well, congratulations. You will not have solved a problem." They talked about financial stuff, too. [ABC News]

OBAMA DOWN BY EIGHT IN GENERIC 2012 POLL - A Gallup survey has President Obama trailing an unnamed Republican by eight points, 47 percent to 39 percent. Gallup says this is the "First statistically significant" lead for the GOP. We never know if people think a "generic" Republican is just any old Republican, a composite of ALL Republicans or just some really run-of-the-mill GOP backbencher. If it's the last one, Ed Whitfield should really think about jumping into the race. Now is his time. [WSJ]

President Andrew Cuomo is very popular. The New York governor clocked in a redonkulous 71 percent approval rating with only 21 percent of Empire State voters disapproving of his job performance. Nearly half of the respondents to the Siena poll want to see Vice President Joe Biden replaced by Cuomo, who recently signed New York's gay marriage bill and played a major role in its passage. This doesn't so much confirm the fact that Cuomo is a transcendent politician as it confirms our longstanding suspicion that everyone in New York is gay. [Siena]

ORRIN HATCH WINNING THE MONEY GAME - Despite the growing consensus that Orrin Hatch is dunzo and will soon go the (very profitable) way of Bob Bennett thanks to Utah's knight-in-shining-temple-garments, Jason Chaffetz, campaign disclosures indicate Hatch is out-fundraising his House counterpart. Hatch has raised $1.3 million over the last three months, a vast sum compared to Chaffetz's mere $124,000. "I really don't give a hoot about how much money he raises," Chaffetz said of the numbers. "If I run this will be a campaign about who could do more with less." A "hoot"!!! What a guy! [Salt Lake Tribune]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - The view aboard a new roller coaster in Japan that is apparently the steepest in the world. []

NORTH DAKOTA NOT TECHNICALLY A STATE - North Dakota, that sparsely-populated bastion of meth and roadside Native American tchotchke emporiums that mostly serves as a land buffer between us and the bloodthirsty, war-crazy aggressors in Manitoba, is still technically a territory ... or something. "John Rolczynski, an 82-year old Grand Forks resident, discovered the error in 1995 and has been been campaigning to fix North Dakota's constitution ever since. The problem lies in the state constitution's omission in requiring the governor and other top officials to take an oath of office. In failing to require these oaths, North Dakota's constitution is at odds with federal requirements established by Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, therefore making statehood illegitimate. After nearly 16 years of fighting to change the constitution, Rolczynski may finally see his goal accomplished: Senator Tim Mathern of Fargo introduced a bill this spring that would fix the error." [Time]

The saddest Wikipedia line ever: "North Dakota is considered the least visited state, owing, in part, to its not having a major tourist attraction."

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Picture everything that's awful. Now picture you've just escaped all that, but know that it's coming back again soon. You'd make sure to enjoy it extra special, right? Well, that's what we have. We're looking at a cool 68 degrees, with nice skies. Tomorrow: A bit warmer than today, but all in all, absolutely stunning. 87 degrees, which means we're not over 90. A bit more humid, but it's bearable. In the middle of the country, we have more misery... that may be coming this way early next week. Don't say you weren't warned. Thanks, JB!


- Birthday dog is the funniest thing we've ever seen ... this week. []

- "Retirement Community Lip Dub" is your epically adorable elderly person thing of the month. []

- Awaken the inner curious seven-year-old child within you with this featuer on what sand looks like up-close. []

- Here's a shocker: Men account for 75 percent of Google+ users. A lot of them are engineers []

- Even though it's framed a bit too much like a segment on E!, this feature on a day in the life of Pixar chief John Lasseter is pretty interesting. []

- A typeface designed specially for people with dyslexia. Technology! []

- HuffPost Culture essay by Ricky Gervais in which the comedian laments the prissy little bugger he was as a child. []

- A helpful recap of ALL the Harry Potter movies up to the current one ... in seven minutes. []


@StephenAtHome: This whole debate over the debt ceiling would be a lot more interesting if Lionel Richie would dance on it.

@pwgavin: "Why Slate Shouldn't Hire Me As an Intern" #winningslateapplications #slatepitches

@FakeAPStylebook: A two-piece bathing suit is a "bikini." A three-piece suit is a "trikini." A four-piece suit is a "Bikini Quatro Xtreme with ComfortGlide™."



5:30 pm: Lisa Murkowski says "hello" to her benefactors at a fundraiser to benefit her Denali PAC. Denali might be a beautiful park in Alaska, but in the East, it's probably your neighborhood gay bar [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Sam Farr celebrates his 70th birthday at the UPS Townhouse. HuffPost Hill's grandfather celebrated his 70th birthday at a restaurant but this works too. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, George Miller and Zoe Lofgren are scheduled to attend [UPS Townhouse, 421 New Jersey Ave SE].

6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Keli Goff celebrates the publishing of her book, "The GQ Candidate." Carolyn Maloney, Artur Davis and others will be on hand for the book party. [Blue Duck Tavern, 1201 24th Street NW].


10:00 am: Because compared to Idaho in the Summer, even D.C. doesn't seem that bad. Mike Crapo spends an extra day in town for a fundraising golf tournament [TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, 10000 Oaklyn Drive, Potomac].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: For whatever reason, Scott Brown is in Chicago and is attending a fundraiser there. The event is being hosted by Hospitality Industry Leaders. Hopefully they put a mint on your donation envelope [Harry Carry's, 33 West Kinzie, Chicago].

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