HUFFPOST HILL - Is Rand Paul The Left Shark Of American Politics?

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter, though Rick Perry insisted that Phil's shadow has "been massaged, it's been doctored." Fans of Oregon Trail will be happy to know that thanks to our politicians' wishy-washy stance on vaccines, you might soon be able to die of measles, too! And Harry Reid was back at work today, eye wound and all. Presumably he will use it to his advantage by walking up real close to freshman members and, in a deep voice, telling them that he did it to himself. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, February 2nd, 2015:

RAND PAUL GOES VACCINE CRAZY - On CNBC this afternoon: "I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children, who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. I'm not arguing that vaccines are a bad idea, I think they're a good thing. But I think parents should have some input." Wow.

WHERE THE 2016ers STAND ON VACCINES - Or, "How afraid are the Republican candidates of whooping cough?" Igor Bobic: "Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) caused a stir on Monday after he called for 'balance' on the issue of vaccinating children against disease...In 2007, then-Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) became the first governor in the nation to sign a bill requiring young girls to get a vaccine against the human papillomavirus, or HPV. A conservative backlash forced Perry to reverse course. He later called the order “a mistake” and acquiesced to the Texas legislature, which overturned the bill....'I'm not anti-vaccine at all... I think there are times in which there can be some rules, but for the most part it ought to be voluntary,' Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)...He also chose to wait on some vaccines for his own children...Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and outspoken conservative, is the chairman of the board of a company called Vaccinogen, which is working to make a vaccine for colon cancer…[Rick Santorum] drew the ire of Don Imus, the radio host and anti-vaccine advocate, by dismissing the idea that vaccines are dangerous...Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) has worked with Hallmark to continue a program that sends cards to new parents urging them to vaccinate their infants...As a presidential candidate in 2008, Hillary Clinton said in a campaign questionnaire that she was 'committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.'" [HuffPost]

@maggieNYT: Difference between Rand and Christie on vaccines - Christie has backers/donors who will be enraged by the comments

OBAMA BUDGET EXTENDS SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS TO MARRIED SAME-SEX PARTNERS - Just in time for the GOP's 2016 populist message, a chance to tell loving couples everywhere to go die in a poorhouse. Amanda Terkel: "President Barack Obama's budget for fiscal year 2016 includes a major change for legally married same-sex couples, making them eligible to receive Social Security spousal benefits regardless of where they live. Currently, these couples are unable to get such benefits if they live in a state that does not recognize their marriage. 'This means that for a couple that marries in one state where same-sex marriage is recognized and then moves to another state where it is not, the protection that Social Security spousal benefits provides to families is unavailable,' says the budget proposal, which was released Monday. 'Under this proposal, such married couples would have access to these benefits.' This proposed change to the Social Security Act was welcome news for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates, who have been pushing for equal benefits." [HuffPost]

The president's 2016 budget would also allow D.C. to legalize recreational weed.

Hill staffers: HuffPost has been compiling a list of the maternity and paternity leave policies in all congressional offices. Help us out! Email tips to congresspaidleave@gmail.com

HuffPost Haircuts: Ali Watkins.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The Obama administration is not playing along with Republican demands to reform the Social Security Disability Insurance program. In a largely symbolic budget proposal for fiscal year 2016, the White House has called on Congress to shift payroll tax revenue to prevent a looming benefit cut -- a move House Republicans already forbade when they voted on the chamber's rules in January. See y'all at SummerSlam. [HuffPost]

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OBAMA LASHES OUT AT GOP'S DHS PROPOSAL -"We shouldn't be playing games with DHS funding. Please, leave your games for the Fish and Wildlife Service, or at least the Commerce Department. " Elise Foley: "With the Senate set to vote Tuesday on a dead-on-arrival bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security and limit executive immigration programs, President Barack Obama urged Congress on Monday not to risk a shutdown that would lead to workers going without paychecks. 'The men and women of the America's homeland security apparatus do important work to protect us and Republicans and Democrats in Congress should not be playing politics with that,' he said in remarks at DHS headquarters. 'We need to fund the department. Pure and simple.' Funding for DHS is set to run out on Feb. 27. If there is a shutdown of the agency, most employees would be considered essential and would continue working, but they wouldn't receive paychecks. The White House released a statement Monday saying more than 40,000 border patrol agents would work without pay under a shutdown, along with 13,000 at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 40,000 in the Coast Guard, 50,000 at the Transportation Security Administration and 4,000 in the Secret Service. House Republicans passed a DHS funding bill last month, but with measures included to gut Obama's immigration policies. Republicans say Obama's actions were unconstitutional and they must do something to stop them. But that bill was met by a veto threat and promises by Senate Democrats to oppose it." [HuffPost]

John Judis examines whether the coming Democratic majority is a mistaken assumption.

FLORIDA MAN URGED NOT TO QUIT HIS DAY JOB - Kyle Cheney: "Floridians overwhelmingly think GOP Sen. Marco Rubio should stick with his current job rather than seek the White House in 2016, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released Monday. Just 15 percent of respondents said Rubio should run for president, while 57 percent said he should seek a second term in the Senate. About a quarter of respondents were unsure." [Politico]

O'MALLEY HEADED TO IOWA - DMR: "As some Iowa Democratic activists voice frustration with the "arrogance" of Hillary Clinton, liberal rival Martin O'Malley intends to seize on her absence from Iowa and the presidential race. There's just a tiny seed of support here for O'Malley right now. The lead singer/guitarist in a Baltimore-based Irish folk-rock band and the recent-past governor of Maryland ranks dead last in a Democratic field of six potential contenders, the new Iowa Poll shows. But O'Malley, who has pitched himself as a results-driven progressive, wants to see if he can build on support for a White House bid during two upcoming trips here – one in March and one in April, aides told The Des Moines Register Monday. Iowans said this is a prime time for an alternative contender to make some headway, as vexation with Clinton bubbles to the surface in the wake of news reports that she may delay the timetable again for her presumed campaign." [Des Moines Register]

Rand Paul is eyeing his dad's home state: "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is already angling for a share of the 153 Republican delegates in Texas who will be up for grabs in early 2016. Most of the media's attention is focused on Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two contests of the Republican presidential primary. But Texas, the biggest Republican state in the nation, holds more delegates than four key states ahead of it on the calendar. The other so-called carve-out states that precede Texas are South Carolina and Nevada. The early map is favorable for Paul, who is near the top of a crowded field of possible GOP contenders. He has a natural advantage in New Hampshire and Nevada, two states with libertarian leanings that mirror his views." [The Hill]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a magic dog.

TEXAS GOVERNOR DEDICATES DAY TO 'AMERICAN SNIPER' SOLDIER - Bill De Blasio, meawhile, is mulling a statue to Michael Keaton's character from "Birdman." Maxwell Tani: "Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed an official proclamation Monday commemorating the death of Navy Seal sharpshooter Chris Kyle, the subject of Clint Eastwood's blockbuster film 'American Sniper.' Reportedly the most deadly sniper in American history, Kyle, a Texas native, was killed two years ago at a North Texas gun range. “We need heroes to protect us from evil like Chris Kyle did,” Abbott said on "Fox and Friends," several hours before signing the proclamation at the Texas Capitol. “He is the face of so many other military heroes that we've had in this country.” Eastwood's massively successful film has sparked a heated debate of the late sniper's legacy. Some have criticized Eastwood for omitting less flattering parts of Kyle's post-war life, including his unsympathetic description of Iraqis." [HuffPost]


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@kurtopsahl: The first rule of FOIA club is ||||||||||||||||||

@elisefoley: Oh no, I'm in a twitter canoe about whether vaccines are terrible.

@pourmecoffee: Good for him. Punxsutawney just came out and gave a PowerPoint presentation about the difference between weather and climate.

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