POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Incoming Appropriations Chair Wanted Health Care Funds

It seemed like everyone today was fuming at the president's tax cut compromise. Free your mind, people! There's plenty more to get bent out of shape about! Joe Lieberman defended the men and women defending our Constitution abroad by attacking the First Amendment. At least one financial publication is arguing that scraping by on $250k is hard work. And Joe Barton, the self-described George Patton of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was denied the chance to courageously lead the panel by the GOP Steering Committee. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, December 7th, 2010:

SCOOP: INCOMING HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS CHAIR LOBBIED FOR HEALTH REFORM $$$ - The Republican Steering Committee -- which is like a whiter, more Brooks Brothers-clad version of the Hogwarts Sorting Hat -- this afternoon selected Hal Rogers to helm the House Appropriations Committee. According to a piece slated to run in ThinkProgress tomorrow morning, Rogers previously requested health care reform funds in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, which TP uncovered with a FOIA request that HuffPost Hill is kicking itself for not filing. This contradicts Rogers' committee campaign pledge that he will defund reform and tackle earmarks.

The Steering Committee also selected Fred Upton for the Energy and Commerce Committee top spot. Some Republicans have criticized Upton for being too moderate and not proficient enough in PowerPoint presentations comparing himself and his leadership to World War II leaders (sorry, Joe Barton). Darren Samuelsohn: "Barton was coy after Tuesday's steering committee decision about whether he'd seek a vote before the entire caucus. Conservatives like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) have said they'd support Barton, but others are warning Barton it would be bad strategy and make an already uncomfortable situation even worse. 'I think that'd be a tremendous mistake on Joe's front,' a former senior House GOP aide told Politico. 'It'd tarnish Joe; it'd tarnish the process. In the strongest sense, I'd advise against that type of move.'" So, of course, Joe will press on, we're sure (we hope). [Politico]

TAX CUT DEAL MAKE DEMOCRATIC BASE ANNNNNGRRRRYYYY...JUST...KINDA SAD - Actually, let's settle on a deep-seated, my-favorite-vegan-cafe-just-closed sense of ennui. Presidential elections have a way of uniting leaders and their base. Yet Obama and liberals are starting to view one another like college buddies whose friendship soured after they moved in together and realized they couldn't stand each other after one too many arguments over the thermostat. It's been a breakneck turn-of-events from Inauguration to now. Obama seems convinced that he had no other option and liberals are just as persuaded he could have won this fight if he'd made a veto threat (and certainly could have won it if the Senate had set the table so that budget reconciliation could have been used). But for Obama, progressives don't represent a core constituency that has genuine demands that flow from their real economic interests, but are rather bratty coastal elites launching FireDogPutsches from their moms' basements.

Obama: "This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats have been fighting for for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn't get that would have affected maybe a couple million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people, and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise. Now, if that's the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let's face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of a preexisting condition." Sam Stein has more: [HuffPost]

The public option thing is over, dude, so save the sanctimonious lecture on sanctimony. And extending unemployment insurance with a jobless rate like this is no signature accomplishment: It's what has always been done. Whatever!

Harry Reid won't give up his online poker push. Now he's trying to squeeze it into the tax deal. We presume he'll latch it to the CR next. Jon Kyl says forget it. [Ken Vogel and Manu Raju]

Mary Landrieu today called into question the morality of the "Obama-McConnell" plan's tax cuts for the rich. "I'm going to argue forcefully for the nonsensicalness and the almost, you know, moral corruptness of that particular policy," she said as she entered a Democratic caucus meeting with Joe Biden. Considering that Landrieu backed the same tax cuts a decade ago and just a few years ago backed an estate tax cut much like this one, this is kind of like Yoko Ono bemoaning Linda McCartney's distracting studio presence during the White Album sessions. But, hey, we'll take it. [HuffPost]

Lamar Alexander has nothing but respect for President Obama. HuffPost Hill asked the senior senator from Tennessee if he was surprised at how much he could get from Obama. He paused and said: "I think I want to respect the president and the process and say that we appreciate the fact that, instead of, 'We won the election, we'll write the bill,' he involved himself in give and take, in check and balance, took some of our ideas. That's a good step forward. I hope that happens on other issues. He got some things."

Vice President Biden met with Senate Democrats today, many of whom said they'd be opposing the tax-cut deal, but with enough Democrats and Republicans behind it, bipartisan leadership will be able to get the bailout coalition back together to jam this thing through.

A number of Democrats are sounding the alarm about the payroll tax holiday. Cutting the tax threatens funding for Social Security, and given today's deal, what chance is there the rate will ever return to where it is now? Don't believe us? Read Nancy Altman. [HuffPost]

WHITE HOUSE 'HOLIDAY' PARTY TODAY - Despite President Obama's expressed willingness to compromise with Republicans and label the event a "Christmas And Five-Year Estate Tax Moratorium Party," the commander-in-chief will stick to his lefty, anti-Christian laurels at least once today when he hosts the White House's annual "holiday" party (HOLD YOUR FIRE, ADAM GREEN).

SENATE HOLDS IMPEACHMENT HEARING FOR FEDERAL JUDGE - Christmas came early for parliamentarian nerds today as the Senate convened to decide whether Thomas Porteous should be removed from office for allegedly accepting bribes over the last 25 years to fund a drinking and gambling habit. Procedural fetishists gawked at chamber-crossing House Impeachment Managers Bob Goodlatte and Adam Schiff the way baseball fans used to when pre-interleague AL pitchers batted in the World Series. Gentlemanly decorum prohibited sweatpants-wearing constitutional obsessives from standing as Senate President pro tempore Daniel Inouye presided over the proceedings and Senators were required to ask questions through a proxy. The chamber is now in a closed session to debate the case. Whether they vote tonight or tomorrow is unclear.

Won't someone PLEASE free MSNBC's talking heads from the De Stijl chamber of sadness? [HuffPost Hill's BlackBerry Camera]

Very sad news: "Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, has died, according to WRAL. She was 61." [HuffPost]

@jaketapper: President Obama called John Edwards and his daughter Cate this afternoon after Elizabeth Edwards had passed away.

IN ROLL CALL TOMORROW - "President Obama's endorsement of a tax cut compromise turned longtime allies into critics and former foes into friends as outside groups quickly weighed in on a plan that could resonate well into the next presidential campaign, writes Roll Call's Bennett Roth."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Michele Bachmann is the latest member of Congress to demonstrate that she does not completely understand unemployment legislation. In a statement to MinnPost on Tuesday, the Minnesota Republican criticized the deal President Obama crafted with Republican leaders to preserve rich people's tax cuts for two years and extended unemployment benefits for 13 months. "As part of the compromise, the President wants to extend unemployment benefits for another 13 months," Bachmann said. "Unemployment benefits are already at a historical length of 99 weeks, and the President's request would push benefits to three years." Problem is, the president's request would do no such thing. It would preserve the 99 weeks by reauthorizing Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits programs, which together provide up to 73 weeks of benefits beyond the standard 26 funded by states. God. [HuffPost]

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JOE LIEBERMAN SAYS GOVT SHOULD PROBE MEDIA FOR WIKILEAKS STORIES - As part of his Quixotic mission to replace the baloney/American cheese grinder as the worst thing ever birthed by Connecticut, Joe Lieberman suggested to Fox News today that media outlets that have publicized the Wikileaks cables should be investigated. "To me, the New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship," Lieberman said. "Whether they've committed a crime, I think that bears very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department." Lieberman acknowledged that the issue is "sensitive" as it "gets into the First Amendment." You don't say. [TPM]

JOHN KERRY'S WIKIBUMP - No that's not the name of the party yacht he has docked out of state for tax sheltering purposes. It's the positive light in which the Massachusetts senator is being cast in some of the cables disclosed by Wikileaks. Leave it to Windsurfy McBeaconhill to somehow score a political win with an assist from Julian Assange. "The cables are filled with references to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman's active diplomacy around the world. And while Kerry naturally doesn't come across as flawless (he was mistakenly optimistic about the prospects for moderation in Syria, for instance) they support the idea that Kerry has been an effective envoy for the Obama administration--a kind of utility player who can lay diplomatic groundwork for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or step into a crisis where other officials can't--as when he assuaged an ornery Afghan president Hamid Karzai during last year's elections at a moment when Karzai wasn't willing to deal with Richard Holbrooke." We'll let you know when he sends out mailers touting his J.Press endorsement. [Time]

@senatus: For those wondering, Sen. LeMieux did thank Gov. Crist in his farewell speech.

HAS THE CHRIS CHRISTIE YOUTUBE PHENOMENON JUMPED THE SHARK? - After a string of YouTube videos surfaced showing Chris Christie confronting hecklers and naysayers with a sort of fuggedaboutit pragmatism that painted the New Jersey governor as a BS-free champion of practicality, it appears he's reached his limit. "Keith Chaudruc, of Madison, asked the governor how he could sign off on a tax cut for the rich while lunch-pail stiffs were hit with painful increases like transit fare hikes. After some give and take, Christie invited Chaudruc to the stage for 'a conversation.' Chaudruc, reluctant to be part of another Christie YouTube moment, was escorted to the stage by a state trooper. Chaudruc never got another word in. Twice Chaudruc's size, Christie crowded his personal space, raised his voice and lectured him on economics with a wagging finger. Each time Chaudruc tried to make a point, Christie cut him off. When Christie finished, Chaudruc motioned for the microphone. This was, after all, a 'conversation.' Christie shooed him away and a trooper herded Chaudruc off stage." To put this in Bruce Springsteen parlance that the governor -- an undying Boss fan -- would understand, this incident is his Tunnel of Love. [Star Ledger]

SOMEONE ACTUALLY TRIES TO ARGUE THAT A $250K FAMILY INCOME IS CONSTRAINING - Do you people have any idea how much private school tuition is these days? Have you been to Restoration Hardware lately? Is your pea-sized, public school-educated brain capable of grasping the fact that Oliver Peoples' line of children's eyewear doesn't pay for itself? Have you asked your immigrant Mexican contractor to price a halfway decent slab of marble for that kitchen island you want to build? Can you mouth-breathing, tree-hugging, "the union makes us strong"-chanting commies even begin to comprehend how much you have to shell out for a decent seat-heating system on a Volvo S60? Would you anti-business, tax-and-spend do-gooders please put down the Utne Reader for just one freaking second to ponder what inflation has done to Dior's overhead? HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO BUY YOUR "ACADEMICALLY DISTURBED" CHILD'S ADMISSION INTO YOUR ALMA MATER? TRUST US, IT AIN'T CHEAP. Jesus Herbert Walker Christ IV!!! The Fiscal Times: "The bottom line: It's not exactly easy street for our $250,000-a-year family, especially when it lives in high-tax areas on either coast." [Fiscal Times]

Correction: A cow with three-hundred and six to thirteen million tits: "The government provided new estimates Monday showing the U.S. population grew to somewhere between roughly 306 million and 313 million over the last decade, acknowledging uncertainty due to rapid shifts in immigration." [AP]

Say what you will about Jim Traficant but the dude is still a winner. The former congressman -- famous for being expelled from the House after a corruption conviction and for the aging possum that took up residence on his head and then abruptly died -- earned the most votes out of any third party candidate in 2010. Smart Politics: "Traficant bested the 15.2 percent he won back in 2002 when he ran for his seat from behind bars after being incarcerated in federal prison - recording the largest tally for an independent or third party candidate in a U.S. House race with both Republican and Democratic candidates on the ballot in that cycle as well. In both 2002 and 2010, Traficant lost to one of his former aides, soon to be 5th term Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Ryan." [Smart Politics]

Budget solutions! "The largest of the five books comprising the federal budget is available for download in e-book format for $9.99 (free for the PDF version). Public Printer Robert Tapella told Roll Call's Rachael Bade that more GPO documents will be offered through Google's e-bookstore, which officially launched Monday." [Roll Call]

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT -Tonight: Absolutely freezing. I'm serious. Expect temperatures in the twenties!. Tomorrow: Stays cold, with arctic chill. Thanks, JB!

COMFORT FOOD

- Whoever said "let sleeping dogs lie" never met this lazy ass K-9. [http://bit.ly/GDSrd]

- You want some baby parrots in little bowls? Well baby parrots in little bowls is what you've got. [http://bit.ly/hdO7Fw]

- Panda researchers are dressing up like their subjects in order to not frighten the cubs. The result is...creepy [http://bit.ly/f1h2En]

- This guy loves Space Camp so much he wrote a synth-based song about his experience there [http://bit.ly/8lj9Q]

- With the year winding to a close we might not get the decade retrospectives we got last year but we still get "The Best Mugshots of 2010." [http://bzfd.it/hwQ9j2]

- For the person who only takes road trips down the block to get groceries, here is every Billy Joel single played at once. [http://bit.ly/gYNFKE]

- If you're seven-years-old and don't want Thanksgiving ruined forever, best you don't watch this video of a Rudolph parade float be impaled by a stoplight. [http://bit.ly/hpySS2]

TWITTERAMA

@pattonoswalt: Full details of Neidermeyer "friendly fire" incident in Saigon 1970 released by Wikileaks.

@brianbeutler: EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE: Obama leaves press conference, steamed http://youtu.be/q3SFXQfE4kk

@jeremyscahill: Now that Wesley Snipes is heading to jail, maybe these Wikileaks cables will finally cease.

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:30 pm: The California State Society Holiday Party holds its annual holiday soiree. After party at Tortilla Coast [Cannon Caucus Room, CHOB].

TOMORROW

5:00 pm -8:00 pm: Gub'ment Relations honchos Potomac Advocates have their annual shindig at the Monocle Restaurant [TheMonocle Restaurant, 107 D Street NE].

5:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Ain't not party like a National Rural Letter Carriers Association Holiday party 'cause a National Rural Letter Carriers Association Holiday party don't stop. Whut whut. [Willard Inter-Continental, Crystal Room, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW].

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: The International Stability Operations Association -- which is basically a consortium of people who keep other people quiet with guns -- gets festivus with the rest of us [Smith & Wollensky, Skylight Ballroom, 1112 19th Street NW].

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: PETA holds its holiday reception featuring "hors d'oeuvres." What we don't get is why the most PC organization on the planet is calling its holiday party a "Christmas Reception" [PETA DC Offices, 1536 16th Street NW].

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