President Obama's eagerly-awaited new release "FISCAL YEAR 2013 BUDGET OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT" landed today, though don't expect any in-store author Q&As at Politics and Prose. Now that Justice Breyer will spend the next year entangled in the Nevisian legal system, the health care reform challenge might stand a chance. And unless the Army set up a green zone in someone's fallopian tube, a Republican congressman is wrong about contraception being a national security risk. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, February 13th, 2012:
GOP CAVES ON PAYROLL TAX CUT - Luke Johnson and Mike McAuliff: "House GOP leaders announced Monday they were putting forward a 'backup plan' that would extend the payroll tax cut for 10 months, while cleaving it from a similar extension of unemployment insurance benefits and what's known as the 'doc fix,' a measure needed to prevent dramatic cuts in Medicare reimbursements. The plan would not be offset by cuts elsewhere, the announcement said, meaning the cost of the tax cut would be added to the deficit. The announcement, made quietly on a day Washington is digesting the president's budget proposal, is a stark reversal...A Democratic aide familiar with the talks said that Republican leadership had privately conceded the issue in negotiations on Friday, though word had not leaked out over the weekend." [HuffPost]
A GOP aide provided Mike McAuliff some background. According to said aide, Boehner's Chief of Staff, Barry Jackson, told a recent Ripon Society gathering of senior Republican staffers in Mt. Vernon that "you've really go to put yourself in the shoes of some of our other members." The aide elaborated: "Really what he was saying was don't vote for the interests of your constituents, vote for the interests of your colleagues because we want to keep the majority...It's going to be a rough road, again. It's like groundhog day."
Another aide elaborates on the first aide's elaborating. Mike McAuliff: "The aide said Jackson was making a point not just about payroll, but was appealing for members to look at any issue 'from the perspective of one of your colleagues and think about how the way you frame up your position impacts them. He said don't change your view or compromise your principles, but always give a thought as to how your position might help or hurt others on the team. Pretty broad, general, reasonable statement.'"
Now Congress is all set for ANOTHER unemployment standoff. Almost everything is happening the same way it happened each previous time, with labor advocates warning how many millions will lose their benefits and famous human being Mark Zandi crawling out of his burrow and wagging his finger about Republicans ruining the economy. The only thing new this time around is all the class-warfare drug testing stuff.
Even the Catholic Bishops are doing their thang.
STAFFERS USE LOOPHOLES TO STAY IN HOTELS, PLAY WITH NEXT GENERATION TABLETS - In tomorrow's Roll Call from Amanda Becker: "Under House rules, lawmakers and staffers lucky enough to snag a coveted invite to the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are generally forced to limit their fun one business day. But through the clever use of loopholes, about a dozen Members and staffers (and spouses) were able to convert the convention into a four-day junket, with the Consumer Electronics Association still picking up the bulk of the tab. And it's all within the rules. Travel disclosure reports filed with the House Ethics Committee show that participants used an exemption that permits additional travel time to far-off locations and paid there own hotel bill for an extra day or two, allowing them to spend several days in Vegas and still accept round-trip airfare and other expenses from the association -- exactly what a 2007 rules change was supposed to eliminate."
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Brian Perry of Mumford, R.I. lost his job as a law firm clerk in 2008. "I have been out of work four years and one month," Perry said in an email. "I am soon to be a 54-year-old homeless man with no job. I have had no health benefits for about five years. I still have applied for near 1300 jobs." Contrary to what the Heritage Foundation likes to suggest, people do not magically find jobs when their unemployment insurance runs out.
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DEBT CEILING DEBATE COULD BE AN OCTOBER SURPRISE - Last year's torturous congressional debate over raising the federal debt ceiling eventually resulted in a deal that President Barack Obama and congressional leaders believed would keep the federal government funded through the 2012 elections. Not so fast. In what one top congressional aide calls a 'nightmare scenario,' the federal government could wind up hitting the debt ceiling at the height of the presidential campaign. The Treasury Department is now contemplating the prospect of invoking 'extraordinary measures' to keep the government funded through November. Barring a major economic shock -- a financial meltdown in Europe, for instance -- the emergency measures should be enough to get the federal government past the election. But even under a rosy scenario, the next Congress will be forced to raise the debt ceiling as one of its first orders of business in 2013, if the lame duck outgoing body doesn't do it. And if the Treasury does have to invoke "extraordinary measures" before the election, it's easy to imagine a re-run of last year's political circus, magnified many times over." [With Zach Carter]
TAKE YOUR PLACES, EVERYONE: PRESIDENT SENDS 2013 BUDGET TO CONGRESS - It won't pass. He knows that. Congress knows that. Reporters know that but, hell, here we go: "President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.8 trillion spending plan on Monday for 2013 that seeks to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade... The president would achieve $1.5 trillion of the deficit reductions in tax increases on the wealthy and by removing certain corporate tax breaks...Obama would also impose a new $61 billion tax over 10 years on big banks aimed at recovering the costs of the financial bailout and providing money to help homeowners facing foreclosure on their homes. The proposal also would raise $41 billion over 10 years by eliminating tax breaks for oil, gas and coal companies and it claims significant savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would save $25 billion over 11 years through cutting costs in the U.S. Postal Service, including eliminating Saturday mail delivery...To spur job creation in the short-term, Obama is proposing a $50 billion "upfront" investment for transportation, $30 billion to modernize at least 35,000 schools and $30 billion to help states hire teachers and police, rescue and fire department workers. Republicans in Congress, opposed to further stimulus spending, have blocked these proposals in the past." [AP]
@AnnieLowery: Which department gets the biggest funding boost in Obama's budget? Commerce.
AFTER AMERICA TURNS INTO AN ISLAMIC CALIPHATE, IT WILL TURN INTO GREECE: REPUBLICANS - Conservatives are running out of Mediterranean cultures that they insist America will transform into. We give it, oh, six weeks until America will be haunted by the specter of mutating into a Algerian-style semi-authoritarian bicameral government. But right now, it's Greece. Look out, y'all. Jen Bendery: "President Barack Obama's $3.8 trillion budget plan does nothing to address mounting debt and could lead the country into a European-style crisis, key congressional Republicans said Monday. 'Again, the president has ducked responsibility. He has failed to take any credible action' to address the debt crisis, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on a conference call. 'All we're getting here is more spending, more borrowing and more debt that will lead to slower economic growth. This is not a fiscal plan to save America from a debt crisis. It's a political plan for the president's reelection.'...Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), also on the press call, said Obama's budget is "exceedingly deceptive" because it actually creates $11 trillion in new debt." [HuffPost]
PRESIDENT'S 'TRUTH TEAM' TO FIGHT LIES, MEET IN ICY LAIR OF JUSTICE - This morning, the president's campaign launched a "Truth Team" that will fight alleged misinformation. WaPo: "On Monday, the president's reelection team will unveil a trio of Web sites dedicated to providing supporters with information on the president's record -- and more than a little dirt on his Republican rivals. The campaign has named it Obama's "Truth Team," and the goal is to arm millions of surrogates with the facts, figures and talking points they need to engage in ground-level political combat -- on their Twitter and Facebook feeds and in old-fashioned conversations with friends and neighbors." [WaPo]
SCOTT BROWN FORGETS ABOUT THE "SHOW PROPERTIES" BUTTON - Properties. They'll get you every time. Scott Brown has made a big deal out of "The Pledge" he took with Elizabeth Warren that they would keep out third-party groups -- Super PACs, party committees, etc. -- and not try to work through any "legalese" or loopholes. When the Brown camp emailed out one version of his Pledge, along with the letter to go along with it, they forgot to do their due diligence: Namely, copy and paste the thing into a new document if you had the chief counsel for the NRSC -- an outside group! -- write/edit your Pledge. Or paste it into an email. Something. Just don't forward reporters the Microsoft Wrod doc. These basic things are all we ask. Worst of all, the Boston Globe picked up our item. [Boston Globe With Our Item]
SANTORUM NARROWING THE GAP - Ew. Anyway, he is. LA Times: "The poll, released Monday, showed Rick Santorum in a virtual tie with Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential race. Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, has moved up as a result of his backing from Tea Party Republicans and white evangelicals. He led Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, 30%-28% among Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters in the survey, which was conduced Feb. 8-12. In a Pew survey only a month ago, Romney led Santorum 31%-14%. But both Republicans trailed Obama by sizable margins. Obama led Santorum by 10 points among registered voters nationwide (53%-43%) and led Romney by 8 points (52%-44%)." [LA Times]
Vince Vaughn is supporting Ron Paul, Joe Perry is too, and other weird Hollywood Republican endorsements
Mitt Romney described himself last week as "severely conservative." Here are other things that have been described as such, via the New Yorker: "Reformed alcoholics and criminals," "A province in Afghanistan where mannequins are veiled," "The 2004 budget of Ghana," "The proper kind of jewelry to be worn at a Mormon wedding." [The New Yorker]
HORMONALLY REGULATED OVARIES WILL HURT OUR VETS, WARNS PERSON WHO WAS ELECTED BY OTHER PEOPLE - Amanda Terkel: "Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), a leading Republican congressman overseeing veterans issues, is warning that President Obama's decision on birth control will have far-reaching effects even on the seemingly unrelated issue of combating homelessness amongst veterans. Miller is chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. On Monday, he sent out a press release on the president's FY '13 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs, saying that upon 'first glance.' it 'appears positive given today's constrained fiscal environment, which is a good step forward.' But, he added, Obama's decision not to exempt all religiously affiliated organizations from covering the cost of birth control for their employees may cause problems for veterans. Essentially, he is worried that religiously affiliated institutions may stop helping homeless veterans because they are so upset over the contraception issue." [HuffPost]
Washington's governor signed that state's gay marriage bill into law today. It's truly bittersweet, as most Washington gay weddings will probably be held elsewhere because most in-state ones would undoubtedly be ruined by rain. AP: "Gov. Chris Gregoire handed gay rights advocates a major victory, singing into law a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage in Washington state, making it the seventh in the nation to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed...The law takes effect June 7, but opponents are already mounting challenges on multiple fronts. Opponents planned to file a challenge Monday that could put the law on hold pending the outcome of a November vote. Separately, an initiative was filed at the beginning of the session that opponents of gay marriage say could lead to the new law being overturned." [AP]
Dear Google, in case you were wondering about that spike in "Nevisian law" queries, here's why: "Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed at knifepoint last Thursday at his family's vacation home in the Caribbean island of Nevis, the Associated Press reported. 'Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed last week by a machete-wielding intruder at his vacation home in the West Indies,' the AP reported. Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg told the AP that 'the intruder took about $1,000 in cash and no one was hurt.'" [HuffPost's Mike Sacks]
ARBEIT MACHT STUPID - Before you get all riled up about the U.S. military base named "Aryan," just remember that the Army could've named it after another, more explicit concept that has threatened America (Camp Juche has a nice ring, too) so... yeah. Remember, perspective is very important. Max Rosenthal: "Following last week's embarrassing controversy involving Marines displaying a flag with what appeared to be a Nazi insignia, American and Afghan soldiers have alleged that a base near Kandahar was named Combat Outpost 'Aryan,' a term evocative of Nazi rhetoric. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on Monday morning, lawyers representing the Military Religious Freedom Foundation demanded that Panetta immediately rename the base and launch an investigation into its naming. 'The horrendous religious and ethnic connotations are beyond dispute, as is the horribly wrongful nature of either the base name or the use of the SS insignia,' wrote Randal Mathis of the Dallas law firm Mathis, Donheiser and Jeter. The name of the outpost was included in a news bulletin from June 2011 on the website of the 170th Infantry Brigade. A subordinate unit of the brigade, which is based in Germany and was deployed to southern Afghanistan at the time, published a photo of American soldiers meeting with their Afghan counterparts at 'Combat Outpost Aryan' on June 5." [HuffPost]
Sad. "Just over just over half of American voters -- 51 percent -- say it is at least somewhat important to find a Valentine who shares their political views. That tops the 47 percent who keep politics out of love, according to a Fox News poll released Monday." [Fox News]
GRRR - From a press release: "On Tuesday, February 14, Outside the Westminster dog show at Madison Square Garden at 12 Noon dogs and their dog-loving friends and families will gather for an informational protest to ensure pet lovers are aware that Mitt Romney is mean to dogs. Armed with signs bearing slogans like 'I Ride Inside,' the passionate canines and humans will seek to focus more public attention on the fact that Romney forced his dog to ride for 12 hours on the roof of his car in a crate -- even when the dog became ill."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Animals kissing each other and also people sometimes.
- Here's a little drum solo. [http://bit.ly/xbGTo0]
- Turtles all the way up. [http://bit.ly/yYPuvl]
- Valentine's Day card writing is a cutthroat business. [http://bit.ly/y7fru0]
- Know Your Enemy: Student loans. [http://bit.ly/znjR82]
- Thomas Edison was a cool dude. [http://bit.ly/wD0b1y]
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the Gregory Brothers (of "Autotune The News" fame) introduce an animation on photographers' rights. [http://bit.ly/xlGowr]
@daveweigel: DEVELOPING: Newt Gingrich releases plan to rule Washington state unconstitutional, give it to Canada.
@EveryTweet_Ever: [PROMOTED] Celebrate Valentine's Day with your significant other by WAIT, WHAT, YOU'RE SINGLE? LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL
5:00pm - 7:00pm: GE CEO Jeff Immelt is the guest of honor at one of those industry receptions congressional staffers can totally go to for free [Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW]
6:30pm and 7:00pm: Tonight's a good night for a book party. We recommend "Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to a Food and Farm Bill" with author Daniel Imhoff, or "Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror" with author Matthew Aid [Busboys and Poets; Politics and Prose]
7:00pm - 9:00pm: Squeaky clean do-gooders make Buffalo Billiards smell nice at a KIPP Schools recruiting partyfor Teach For America alums. [1330 19th St NW]
5:30pm - 7:30pm: Avery from "30 Rock" aka Elizabeth Banks is on the Hill for women's heart disease. To sneak in, just say you're Hoyer's chief of staff. [Canon Caucus Room 345]
7:00pm - 9:00pm: For the least romantic V-Day ever, you should go hear Jack Abramoff lecture college kids about corruption. [George Washington University, 800 21st St. NW]
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