HUFFPOST HILL - MAY 3, 2010
Wall Street and the oil slick kept folks busy today. Bernie Sanders prepped his Fed audit amendment as Arlen Specter readied a subcommittee hearing on whether we can lock up fiscal ne'er-do-wells. As BP scrambled to clean up the Gulf Coast, Congress brainstormed ways to clean BP's clock. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, May 3rd, 2010:
FED AUDIT SHOWDOWN TOMORROW - Could there be 70 votes to audit the Fed in the face of Wall Street and White House opposition? It's not crazy: 59 senators voted for a Bernie Sanders amendment to audit the Fed in April 2009. Of the 39 opposed, eight have since signed on to a Sanders Fed-audit bill or the amendment. Folks say Scott Brown is leaning yes. Freshmen Sens. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) both voted no but tell HuffPost Hill they're reconsidering. That'd make 72 votes.
"I think momentum is with us. But I've gotta tell you, that on this amendment, you're taking on all of Wall Street, you're taking on the Fed, obviously, and unfortunately you seem to be taking on the White House, as well. And that's a tough group to beat," Sanders told HuffPost Hill. Chris Dodd told him he'll likely get a vote tomorrow. Sanders and Rahm have been chatting on the phone a lot lately, Sanders said.
GREENSPAN WANTED HOUSING-BUBBLE DISSENT SECRET - On Friday, the Fed released transcripts of its 2004 meetings. HuffPost Hill stumbled across this doozy from Alan Greenspan. "We run the risk, by laying out the pros and cons of a particular argument, of inducing people to join in on the debate, and in this regard it is possible to lose control of a process that only we fully understand," Greenspan said. In the same meeting, Greenspan ignored the warning of Atlanta Fed Chief Jack Guynn who cautioned him about increasingly wild speculation in the housing market. "A number of folks are expressing growing concern about potential overbuilding and worrisome speculation in the real estate markets, especially in Florida. Entire condo projects and upscale residential lots are being pre-sold before any construction, with buyers freely admitting that they have no intention of occupying the units or building on the land but rather are counting on 'flipping' the properties--selling them quickly at higher prices," Guynn told Greenspan. http://huff.to/clud30
GULF SPILL SET TO HIT 'LOOP CURRENT,' TAKING IT TO FLORIDA KEYS - Late afternoon AP lede: "Scientists say the Gulf oil spill could get into the what's called the Loop Current within a day, eventually carrying oil south along the Florida coast and into the Florida Keys." http://huff.to/aTzG8d
JUST IN: "National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration officials last fall warned the Department of Interior, which regulates offshore oil drilling, that it was dramatically underestimating the frequency of offshore oil spills and was dangerously understating the risk and impacts a major spill would have on coastal residents," HuffPost's Dan Froomkin reports. NOAA is the nation's lead ocean resource agency, and the warnings came in its response to a draft of the Obama Administration's offshore oil drilling plans. The comments were published in October by the whistle-blowing group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility." http://huff.to/9raYak
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has withdrawn his support for new drilling projects off the California coast. http://huff.to/aoVdYI
Frightening video simulation shows how the spill tripled in size over three days. http://huff.to/ci7ZBY
At least three House committees will hold hearings on the overturned rig. Already the House Energy and Commerce committee has issued requests for top BP officials to appear. Natural Resources and House Oversight are also prepping their own hearings. http://bit.ly/9Ctk3o
Don't expect Gene Taylor to press BP too hard. The Mississippi congressman compared the massive oil leak to "chocolate milk" and reassured the public that it will all break up "naturally." "[I]t's not as bad as I thought it would be," he said. Uh-huh. http://huff.to/cz07Jq
SCOTUS NOMINEE THIS WEEK? Legal Times' Tony Mauro: "After sending out signals late last week that President Barack Obama was still some distance away from making a decision, the White House today indicated that an announcement of a new Supreme Court nominee may come this week." http://bit.ly/aZsJ0H
OBAMA MORTGAGE GURU RESIGNS - Seth Wheeler, a senior Treasury adviser and architect of the Obama administration's mortgage modification program, has resigned -- and plans to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, according to homeowner advocates. "Seth spanned the two administrations and as a result climbed a very steep learning curve on mortgage servicing issues, and he was one of the most knowledgeable people in the whole Treasury building on this," said Julia Gordon of the Center for Responsible Lending. http://huff.to/ahwLNS
OBAMA DINING WITH CEOS TONIGHT - Bloomberg's Roger Runningen: "President Barack Obama will be soliciting the views of corporate leaders including JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon on the economy and financial regulation at a White House dinner tonight. Dimon is planning to be among the members attending from the Business Council's executive committee, who the president has invited for the session in the State Dining room before he gives a speech on job creation and the economy to the 77-year- old organization tomorrow, a person familiar with the guest list said." http://bit.ly/byfcld
SPECTER TO HOLD WALL STREET HEARING TOMORROW - Arlen Specter, chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee, holds a hearing tomorrow entitled "Wall Street Fraud and Fiduciary Duties: Can Jail Time Serve as an Adequate Deterrent for Willful Violations?," ignoring our suggestion of "Can You Sell Lloyd Blankfein for a Carton of Marlboro Lights and Two Weeks of Laundry Duty?" The hearing begins at 9:00 am.
NYC BOMB ATTEMPT MAY HAVE 'FOREIGN' LINK - WaPo: "The failed car bombing in Times Square increasingly appears to have been coordinated by more than one person in a plot with international links, Obama administration officials said Tuesday." ... A U.S. official, recounting a conversation with intelligence officials: "Don't be surprised if you find a foreign nexus. . . . They're looking at some telltale signs and they're saying it's pointing in that direction." http://bit.ly/ad3Wyh
More from the Post: "An FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force has taken over the investigation of the failed Times Square bombing because of indications it was connected to international terrorism, a senior law enforcement course said Monday."
AND: CBS News reports that the last registered owner of the Pathfinder told investigators that he recently sold the car to a man on Craigslist -- no paperwork involved. http://huff.to/9QSgJY
VIDEO of failed bombing attempt surfaces: http://huff.to/9mzoGT
TRAGIC FLOODING IN TENNESSEE CONTINUES - "Nashville braced for more deaths Monday as the flooded Cumberland River continued to swell, sending muddy water rushing through neighborhoods and into parts of the historic heart of Music City after a destructive line of weekend storms killed 22 people in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. The flash floods caught the city off-guard, and thousands of residents and tourists were forced to flee homes and hotels as the river rapidly spilled over its banks. Eleven of the 12 people killed in Tennessee drowned, including six in Nashville." http://huff.to/avCM1Q
Pelosi statement today: "The thoughts and prayers of the Congress are with the people of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi as they struggle with record-breaking flooding. For families who have lost loved ones, the sympathies of all Americans are with them in these tragic times." ... RedState is outraged at Obama's incomplete response: http://bit.ly/9BYvH8
PRIMARIES TOMORROW OH-Sen: Lee Fisher, the DSCC candidate, looks likely to defeat progressive Jennifer Brunner for the Dem nomination; winner faces Rob Portman. "Asked by a Dayton Daily News reporter last week how much she would work for Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher if he wins and she loses, Brunner held up her hand and formed a zero." http://bit.ly/bV1Vvp
IN-Sen: Dan Coats has performed far below expectations but will probably overcome his four tea party-affiliated rivals who are splitting the conservative vote; Brad Ellsworth is unopposed.
NC-Sen: In the race to challenge Richard Burr, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall has come on strong and will almost surely win more votes than DSCC pick and Iraq war vet Cal Cunningham -- but it's unclear whether she'll hit 40% and avoid a run-off.
ALSO: The DCCC has added Stephene Moore and Joe Garcia to its 'Red to Blue' program. They're running in KS-03 (Dennis Moore's seat) and FL-25 (Mario Diaz-Balart's seat) respectively. http://bit.ly/bN1DFB
Sheriff Joe won't run for AZ Governor. - "I don't want to be egotistical, but I could be the governor if I ran," the modern-day Bull Connor tells CNN's John King this evening. BUT, he adds, he's not going to run.
TOMORROW IN 'THE HILL': Bob Cusack and Roxana Tiron are working on a story about how Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is playing a major role in blocking a House bill that has a record-number of co-sponsors. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), is one of the more straightforward bills in Congress. It would change the Navy Department's formal name, calling it the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.
Jackie Kucinich in Roll Call tonight: "Pressing the Limits of States' Rights Movement": "Conservative Republicans in the House like the sound of a 10th amendment task force aimed at strengthening states and restricting the reach of the federal government, but they might not be prepared for its full implications if it means letting states legalizing marijuana and handle other hot-button issues like abortion without federal interference."
ANTI-K STREET BILL PICKS UP SUPPORT - Michael Bennet has won a cosponsor for a bill to ban members of Congress from K Street for life. John Tester announced Monday afternoon he'd like to help with the revolving doorstop. "It's about time for all of Congress to make sure decisions are being made based on what's right for our country, not based on who hires well-connected lobbyists," said Tester in a statement. This makes Tester only the second member of the House or Senate to come anywhere near making a prom-promise not to become a lobbyist.
SCOOP: BLACKWATER CEO CAUGHT ON TAPE - "The Nation magazine has obtained an audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Prince to a friendly audience. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption, provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater." http://bit.ly/dCwzv5
DEMI MOORE ON THE HILL TOMORROW - The actress will advocate for stricter regulation of domestic child sex trafficking. She will meet with a handful of officials including Steny Hoyer and Dick Durbin. http://bit.ly/ca5l8M
Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to firstname.lastname@example.org
ON THE TUBE
Ron Paul and Alan Grayson talked Fed auditing on Ratigan. Ted Kaufman discusses Wall St. reform on Hardball. Luis Gutierrez discusses pro-immigration rallies on both Ed Schultz and Countdown. Robert Menendez is on Maddow shilling for his bill raising oil companies' liability in the event of spills. Bill O'Reilly talks to Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima, AZ, while Greta Van Susteren hosts Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, AZ, as well as Tim Pawlenty. Elizabeth Warren is on the Colbert Report.
Howard Dean is on the Daily Rundown. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter visits Fox & Friends.
OIL SPILL FALLOUT - BP workers are rush-assembling a makeshift system to limit the amount of oil that leaks into the Gulf Coast. Engineers expect the device to be completed in six to eight days. Meanwhile, officials issued revised estimates that put the rate of eruption at well above previous calculations and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley announced that upwards of 80% of the booms laid down have broken. If this isn't depressing enough, check out HuffPost's extensive collection of dead animal photos. http://huff.to/b58B8p
SENATORS INTRODUCE OIL LIABILITY BILL Robert Menendez, Frank Lautenberg and Bill Nelson today unveiled legislation that would raise oil companies' financial responsibility for spills from $75 million to $10 billion. Sam Stein: "The impetus for the legislation were reports that surfaced over the weekend that British Petroleum, the company responsible for the disastrous spill in the Gulf Coast, would face limited responsibility for covering costs beyond cleanup and containment. The oil company, in addition to others, pays money into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund -- a kind of rainy day piggy bank for handling the immediate costs of dealing with disasters. Under the charter of the federal law that created the $1.6 billion fund, however, operators of the offshore rig face no more than $75 million in liability for non-cleanup and containment damages. And in a region like the Gulf Coast the cost to local industry of a massive oil spill can easily skyrocket well beyond that total." http://huff.to/a2DX5c
WHITE HOUSE: NO SHIFT YET ON OFFSHORE DRILLING - Robert Gibbs says the administration isn't ready to halt offshore drilling expansion. "This is an administration that is going to take any information we can get from that and have that dictate our decision making going forward," Gibbs said. "I think it would be premature to get too far ahead of where Secretary Salazar's investigation is." http://huff.to/c1l62y
Kos picks apart BP's response: "On the surface, this sounds like great news ... well, as great as news can be in the face of an environmental catastrophe: ...'Energy giant BP vowed Monday to pay 'all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs' from the US oil pollution disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.' And what is necessary and appropriate? According to BP CEO Tony Hayward: 'This wasn't our accident. This was a drilling rig operated by another company. It was their people. Their systems. Their processes. We are responsible not for the accident, but we are responsible for the oil, and for dealing with it and cleaning the situation up ... We're responsible for the oil and cleaning it. We are responsible to deal with the oil, contain it on the surface, and clean it up.' Does this mean that necessary and appropriate responsibility starts and stops with what's on the surface? Is BP trying to limit their liability from the real environmental and economic impact ... that which happens below the surface and on the shore? http://bit.ly/dwzruh
NUKE REPORT: WE CAN STILL BLOW STUFF UP - The Pentagon today confirmed the United States can still reduce civilization to a sad mound of ash and rubble in the blink of an eye. In an attempt to dampen international fears that the U.S. isn't honoring nuclear disarmament treaties, the government disclosed the size of the its nuclear arsenal to coincide with at a UN summit on nuclear weapons. The magic number: 5,113. So...we're doing something right. Right? http://bit.ly/bDUbrx
JOKING ABOUT WAR CRIMES? - Folks were irked by President Obama's WHCD quip about obliterating the Jonas Brothers with predator drones. WaPo aggregates the dissatisfaction: "'You have to wonder why in the world the president's speech writers would think it was a good idea to throw a joke about predator drones into the president's speech during the White House Correspondent's Dinner, given that an estimated one-third of drone casualties, or between 289 and 378, have been civilians,' wrote Adam Serwer at the American Prospect. 'Let's be honest, fellow progressives, we'd be all over Bush if he made the same 'predator drone' joke Obama told last night,' Philadelphia Daily News' Will Bunch tweeted. Drone attacks in Pakistan have killed hundreds of suspected insurgents since early 2009 -- but they have also killed civilians and stirred up animosity towards the U.S. in Pakistan. President Bush was pilloried for making light of the lack of WMDs in Iraq at the 2004 White House Correspondents' Dinner. Does Obama deserve similar treatment?" http://bit.ly/aaBgrC
PELOSI: BUSH WHITE HOUSE KEPT CONGRESS IN DARK ABOUT FINANCIAL CRISIS "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi...claims that the Bush Administration prohibited its own top officials who were handling the emerging crisis from briefing Congress until a complete financial collapse was only hours away." http://bit.ly/cuSB5z
EX-CON AND FORMER REP TO RUN FOR CONGRESS - Former Rep. James Trafficant today filed a primary challenge for his old congressional district. Trafficant, who was expelled from congress following his 2002 conviction on 10 felony counts, was released from the clink in September. He will take on his former staffer and current 17th district Rep. Tim Ryan. Trafficant said his top priority, if elected, will be to abolish the IRS. http://bit.ly/cKOhZM
PAWNBROKER TO RUN FOR ILLINOIS GOV - Maybe sensing a trend, pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen announced his candidacy for governor today. Cohen had previously left the race for Lieutenant Governor in February following allegations of domestic abuse. http://bit.ly/b68kAk
AWKWARD - Apparently Charlie Rangel gave his primary challenger Adam Clayton Powell IV a lift yesterday when a function the two were attending had been moved. http://bit.ly/drPcuG
POLL: AMERICANS WANT OBAMA TO BUTT OUT - A poll released by U.S. News and World Report indicates that Americans want President Obama to quit smoking as a mother's day gift to the first lady. A whopping 60 percent of respondents suggested the president quit the cancer sticks while only 15 percent said he take Michelle shopping. http://bit.ly/cUhyx6
WHAT DID AFL-CIO FLAK EDDIE VALE EAT THIS WEEKEND? - A whole lot of cheerios and Red Bull. That made news somehow. http://bit.ly/9YWdMn
ALTERCATION AWARD WINNER On Friday, we asked readers to spot all the cliches in the below Eric Alterman paragraph. It turned out to be an impossible task. Politico-copy-editor-turned-law-student Campbell Roth takes the prize for identifying six of them: "proverbial ducks lined up," "just what the doctor ordered," "shooting as many blanks as real bullets," "bad guys," "proverbial 'step [or two] in the right direction'" and "let the big fish get away." (Yes, he used "proverbial" twice.) Campbell also nailed the bonus correction: Barney Frank chairs the House Financial Services Committee, not the Banking Committee. But she missed a few ones hidden in there. A second prize for the reader who spots the remaining cliches and mixed metaphors.
From Alterman: "And yet even with all its proverbial ducks lined up--a populist crusade is just what the doctor ordered for a divided and dispirited party going into perilous midterm elections--the administration and its lieutenants in Congress are still shooting as many blanks as real bullets at the bad guys. It's not that their bills are all bullshit, as the Republicans' clearly are. They contain many worthy measures that would, as almost any fair-minded economist will tell you, provide a proverbial 'step [or two] in the right direction.' But somewhere along the line, whether in Obama's White House, Tim Geithner's Treasury Department, Barney Frank's House Banking Committee or Christopher Dodd's Senate side, a decision was made to let the big fish get away." http://bit.ly/cq0f1t
- The 15 most expensive homes belonging to top-level bankers. http://bit.ly/90sxL5
- A large air spill at a wind farm has resulted in a catastrophic eruption of oxygen. http://huff.to/dhGbvh
- College administrators are starting to bristle at U.S. News' rankings. http://huff.to/9acEG0
- The creepiest thing to hit Taiwan since that chubby boy who sings Whitney Houston. http://huff.to/aafMXb
- A Detroit airport cop and a TSA worker took a dude's pizza and then punched him. As if the metal detector procedure wasn't enough. http://bit.ly/cy4d5f
- Speaking of law enforcements no-nos, here's a Wisconsin cop who moonlights as a crackhead. http://bit.ly/9C1kzX
- Nerf has unveiled its totally rad line of biological weapons. http://onion.com/ajk8qp
- A brief history of the "Happy Birthday" song. http://bit.ly/aXW9ac
TWITTERAMA - SPECIAL #WHCD EDITION
@tarapalmeri: Jonas Brothers a little touchy about the Obama #WHCD joke http://tinyurl.com/26ljs5f Joe Jonas: "We're not pedophiles" http://bit.ly/bHaRAz
@NikkiSchwab: No ticket? Jon Gosselin takes shots at Cafe Citron on WHCD night http://bit.ly/9aDzNf
@Marnus3: BREAKING: THe Secret Service may arrest Jay Leno 4 dropping a bomb so close to the president. http://bit.ly/diCTcc
@lizzwinstead: Glenn Beck was going to attend #WHCD, but didn't leave enough time to pack all his emotional baggage & missed his flight. http://bit.ly/9Mmg88
@georgeyboy36: for the love of god can #WHCD PLEASE get Colbert back for next year? Colbert+Obama'd be the best comedy block Saturday has seen in years. http://bit.ly/9ziXO7
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: ***FREE PIE ALERT*** ***FREE PIE ALERT***. NATSO, which represents the interests of the nation's truckers, welcomes staffers to their annual recpetion featuring the finest pies that America's truck stops have to offer [Rayburn Foyer].
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: If pie doesn't bring out your inner-child, how about slot cars? Adams Morgan staple The Reef hosts its semi-regular slot car racing event tonight. Bring your own or use one of the Reef's own electrified mini-vehicles. $3 High Life and PBR. [The Reef, 2446 18th Street NW].
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Free wine and hors d'oeuvres at the Center for Health and Gender Equality's (CHANGE) annual Healthy Future Action Summit. RSVP to Kiki Kalkstein at email@example.com [1317 F Street NW Suite 400].
8:00 pm: Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek roll into Black Cat for the D.C. stop of their Revolutions Per Minute Tour. $20 advance, $25 at the door [Black Cat, 1811 14th St NW].
8:30 am - 9:30 am: The two most toxic things in America, Arizona and seafood, come together at Ann Kirkpatrick's (D-Ariz.) Johnny's Half Shell fundraiser [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].
8:30 am: Several Michigan energy companies host a fundraiser for Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.). As Congress debates energy policy, the WAM chairman raises dough with an assist from the natural gas industry. Huzzah! [American Gas Association, 400 N Capitol St NW #400].
8:30 am - 9:30 am: Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has a breakfast fundraiser at Mott House. Have a Ron Wyden joke? We sure don't. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org [The Mott House, 122 Maryland Ave NE].
12:00 pm: Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) welcomes moneyed visitors to the Capitol Hill Club, the GOP's own Voyeur West Hollywood East. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) will be in attendance [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].
12:30 pm: Sue Lowden (R-Nev.) visits D.C. to replenish her Nevada senate campaign. A number of GOP power brokers will be on hand, but will Charlie Palmer take a chicken for a steak? [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW].
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