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Harry Reid didn't say much about his energy bill but did disclose that it deals with "pollution" which "means there's bad stuff in the air." Other politicians were a bit more forthcoming. Rand Paul thinks poor people should quit their yapping and bask in the glory of color television and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett believes the unemployed just "sit there." This was a hard one to finish -- we caught Ben Nelson's crossword fever -- but here is (in black and white) HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, July 13th, 2010:

BEN NELSON'S REVOLUTIONARY SOLUTION TO THE UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS: CROSSWORD PUZZLES - What's a 15-letter word for screwing the jobless? A reader who shared a direct flight to DCA from Omaha with a stop in Milwaukee tells us he sat just behind Ben Nelson and that the Nebraska Dem spent the entire trip to Milwaukee working on a crossword puzzle booklet. The reader wrote in response to a HuffPost story about Nelson blocking unemployment extensions because they aren't offset, an argument economists reject. "I am not disparaging those who do crossword puzzles, but Nelson is puzzling while Rome burns. Maybe he should be spending his time trying to understand the economic policy of which he is so woefully ignorant," writes the tipster, who did his citizen journalist duty by providing the flight number (Midwest 1622), Nelson's seat number (1C) and this photo of him hard

GOP PUSHING "SESSIONS-MCCASKILL FREEZE" - Mitch McConnell told reporters today that "a hundred percent of the Republicans on the Appropriations Committee" would be putting forward what he called the Sessions-McCaskill freeze. "We're going to recommend a smaller pie, if you will, a smaller discretionary spending budget to our friends in the majority," McConnell said, updating Marie Antoinette for a pie-loving populace. McCaskill said she was thrilled at the proposal, noting that between 16 and 18 Democrats have voted for such a freeze on spending -- similar to one Obama proposed -- at one time or another, a number McConnell also tossed out. "I think it sends the right signals to the international markets. I think it sends the right signals to our market and I think it's the right thing to do in term of economics," she said. But, HuffPost Hill quibbled, bond prices are near historic lows. What makes you think the international markets need soothing? "Well, I'm more worried about people in Missouri being nervous about the national debt than I am--but I think clearly what has gone on in the international market is people understand that debt is the enemy of economic growth," she said. Taking on debt, of course, is the engine, not the enemy, of growth during a recession. But the generous people of Missouri are demanding Congress give comfort to an international market not asking for it.

WV Gov. Joe Manchin will appoint an interim senator to Robert Byrd's seat by 5PM on Friday, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports.

REID PLANS WALL STREET REFORM VOTE LIKELY THIS WEEK - With Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe and Ben Nelson all throwing their support behind financial regulatory overhaul, the Senate's passage of the conference bill is all but assured... that is until Washington finds some way to derail it again (our prediction: Ben Cardin's sudden decision to drop out of politics and backpack across the American Southwest in an attempt to find himself). Expect a vote on Thursday.

Financial Times tomorrow: the crisis isn't over. FT will headline a Martin Wolf analysis headlined, "Three years and new fault lines threaten": "It is nearly three years since the world became aware of the coming financial tremors. Since then we have experienced a financial sector earthquake, a collapse in economic activity and an unprecedented monetary and fiscal response. The world economy has now recovered. But this crisis is far from over."

Bruising Bloomberg poll: "Almost four out of five Americans surveyed in a Bloomberg National Poll this month say they have just a little or no confidence that the [financial reform bill] will prevent or significantly soften a future crisis. More than three-quarters say they don't have much or any confidence the proposal will make their savings and financial assets more secure. A plurality -- 47 percent -- says the bill will do more to protect the financial industry than consumers; 38 percent say consumers would benefit more."

Bloomberg also polled jobs vs. deficit-cutting: "The U.S. currently has a huge budget deficit and a high unemployment rate. Which should take priority -- reducing the budget deficit or reducing the unemployment rate?" Twenty-eight percent said reducing the budget deficit should be the priority vs. 70 percent who want the unemployment rate reduced first.

Another new poll from CBS News tonight: "More than eight in 10 say the condition of the economy is bad, up five points from last month... Just 25 percent of Americans say the economy is getting better - down from 41 percent in April... More than half of Americans - 52 percent - say Mr. Obama has spent too little time dealing with the economy. And with unemployment near 10 percent, the economy is their priority: Thirty-eight percent volunteer it as the country's most important problem. That far outpaces the percentage that cited the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan (seven percent), health care (six percent), the deficit (five percent), and the oil spill in the Gulf (five percent).

PELOSI PROFILED -- Brendan Daly sent the Christian Science Monitor profile around this afternoon, deeming it "excellent" -- and it is indeed filled with high praise for the speaker. "There's an art to being Nancy Pelosi. Visitors walking into her office with a can of soda are offered a glass. There's no Big Desk in the room that says power. It's not needed. Guests are directed to a chair facing the Mall. Her chair, framed by the most privileged view in Washington, is also positioned so she can follow House floor action on four small TVs off to the side, without looking distracted. In what may be an unintended consequence, the horizontal, late afternoon light gives her face a halo glow, and leaves guests squinting."

REID: ENERGY BILL WILL DEAL WITH "POLLUTION" - Because people were concerned it'd deal with -- what -- the 1974 Detroit Red Wings? Washington Independent's Andrew Restuccia: "[H]e hopes to introduce it the week after next. Speaking to reporters in the Capitol, he said the bill has four titles: - Oil spill, -Clean energy job creation, -A title to 'reduce consumption' -- no further explanation, -A 'broader' title, which he's working on with the Finance Committee, and which will address the utilities sector. No details on whether it'll include a cap on emissions, but he said it would deal with 'pollution.'"

What exactly is 'pollution,' Senator? "It means there's bad stuff in the air." [Our Reidology experts say he's referring to regulating carbon emissions, which the EPA has designated as pollution.]

Speaking of nebulous politicospeak, Taegan Goddard's new wonk-tastic Political Dictionary is now available. Check it out:

Joe Lieberman and John Kerry have reportedly finished a draft of their own climate bill and let us tell you, Antarctica ain't the only thing being watered-down by industry interests these days [Editor's note:]. Reuters: "A scaled-back climate change bill that focuses largely on mandating carbon emissions reductions on electric power utilities has been drafted by U.S. Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman in the hopes of winning Senate passage in coming weeks. The draft bill, which was obtained by Reuters, could still change. Also, it has not yet been decided whether the Kerry-Lieberman proposal will be included in a larger energy and environment bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants the Senate to debate later this month, according to one leadership aide."

READOUT OF SENATE LEADERSHIP-WHITE HOUSE MEETING - Senate Democratic leaders took the bike path up Pennsylvania Avenue for a White House meeting mid-morning. From a Senate source, Obama talked about how things had been going pretty well until Greece was attacked by bond traders and BP's Gulf well blew up and that poll numbers were looking pretty good in April. Problem is, the elections in November, and the group acknowledged the headwind but talked about the strategy of making the election a choice between a return to Bush policies and whatever it is Democrats are offering. The meeting emphasized the importance of job creation, selling what has already been accomplished, but looking to the future.

GIBBS: SENATE WILL PASS UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EXTENSION NEXT WEEK - Sam Stein: "White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs predicted on Tuesday that the Senate would pass an extension of unemployment benefits sometime next week after nearly a month of delays over the size and scope package. 'I think this president will press and my belief is the Senate will take up [the package],' said Gibbs, 'and we will pass next week an extension of unemployment insurance.' Speaking at the daily briefing, Gibbs hinted that the White House and allied campaign committees would be monitoring the vote closely for electoral implications."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - "Of course" Republican insistence that unemployment benefits be paid for is an affront to the New Deal, says Sherrod Brown to HuffPost's Arthur Delaney. "When the economy's bad you don't cut government spending....Everybody understands that it's countercyclical and you don't want to begin the precedent of paying for unemployment benefits," said Brown. "It's always been done that way, and the Republicans always went along with it." Adds Sheldon Whitehouse: "It wouldn't do their electoral prospects any harm for there to be more economic misery in America before the election, let's put it that way."

DDD BONUS - Tom Corbett, GOP gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania, is the latest politician to say unemployment benefits make people lazy and to cite a phantom business owner. Delaney asks business owners to please email him about their difficulty hiring the unemployed:

TOMORROW'S PAPERS TODAY - Washington Post: Kathleen Parker on how Sarah Palin knows just what drives us all nuts. Instead of changing her tune, she turns up the volume. The Hill: Alexander Bolton on a test of leadership for 2012 White House hopeful Mitt Romney. Romney has blasted a nuclear arms treaty the Obama administration signed with Russia. Dick Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, has defended the treaty. Roll Call: John Stanton reports that Senate Democrats are mounting a state-based and under-the-Dome campaign to persuade Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to break ranks and give them the 60 votes they need to pass a campaign finance bill -- AND -- Anna Palmer writes that former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) is in final contract negotiations to be the next head of the Motion Picture Association of America

BAUCUS: SENATE TO STAVE OFF DIVIDEND TAX HIKE - If Congress doesn't act before the end of the year, the tax on dividends rises to 40 percent. Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus told reporters today "we'll act before the end of the year, on those tax extenders, just give relief to middle income taxpayers... We can't let dividends go to the ordinary tax rate." Tax cuts for Americans making less than $200,000 a year do not have to be offset under statutory paygo rules, he said. "We're just starting to write. But clearly, we'll want to extend the middle income tax cuts."

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The video the GOP watched over lunch focuses on the debt and independents' souring attiudes toward Obama:

OBAMA NAMES NEW, LESS SEXALICIOUS, OMB DIRECTOR - The president today announced he will nominate Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Jacob Lew as the new Office of Management and Budget director. Lew, who previously served as OMB director under President Clinton, will replace outgoing director and Jewish mother-appeasing laureate Peter Orszag.

@chucktodd: WH spox Gibbs dismissive of questions about Jack Lew's tenure at Citi; says he's been vetted on this issue already.

ABC News correspondents looking for love, take note. Here's the goods:

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds the public's confidence in President Obama is at an all-time low. Elyse Siegel: "Nearly six in ten voters say they have little or no confidence in President Obama's ability to make the right decisions for the United States... According to the poll, the president maintains a 50 percent overall approval rating; however, when it comes to the economy, 54 percent say they disapprove of how Obama is doing his job."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a cat massaging its owner's head.

STENY HOYER: DEMS WILL RUN AGAINST BUSH'S RECORD IN 2010...AND WIN - From Lucia Graves: "Hoyer announced Dems will be using Bush's record against the GOP in the midterm elections this fall, and added that with that strategy, they'll win. 'All of the predictions that were made for Bush's and the Republican's economic policies were wrong -- all of them...' he said. 'I think the American public hopefully is going to reflect on that. We're certainly going to be talking about that. I'm going to be talking about that.'"

CHARLIE CRIST AHEAD IN FLORIDA SENATE RACE - A poll out today from Reuters finds the Florida governor edging out his Republican opponent Marco Rubio 35% to 28%. Rep. Kendrick Meek, draws only 17%. If polled against Jeff Greene, who is challenging Meek for the Democratic nomination, Crist beats Rubio 34% to 29%.

In California, SuveyUSA finds Carly Fiorina beating Barbara Boxer 47% to 45%.

RAND PAUL: POOR PEOPLE SHOULD QUIT WHINING AND WATCH "CAVALCADE OF STARS" ON THEIR DUMONTS OR SOMETHING - At a forum with his Democratic opponent Jack Conway last week, Rand Paul -- who we're pretty sure wasn't born in the traditional sense but rather spontaneously congealed in the sweaty haze of a Lee Greenwood concert -- insisted that Americans living in poverty aren't actually doing so bad. In making his case, Paul referred to an old Soviet Union propaganda film highlighting the squalor of America's inner cities. "They filmed a building in the poorer section of New York with some broken windows and they said, `Oh, this is how the poor in America lives,'" Paul said. "But it backfired on them because the Soviet citizens looked at that video closely and they saw flickering color television sets in all those windows." He added: "the poor in our country are enormously better off than the rest of the world. It doesn't mean we can't do better. But we have to acknowledge and be proud of our system of capitalism."

Today Paul said he would not have won his party's nomination had it not been for the Tea Party movement. Thanks, Tea Party movement.

In other gratitude news, Sharron Angle believes God is to thank for her primary victory. Sam Stein: "Over the weekend, Angle participated in an interview with Ralph Reed, the longtime conservative activist, founder of the Christian Coalition, and the man once deemed the 'right hand of god' by Time Magazine. And in the course of answering a question about her rise from relative obscurity, the Nevada Republican made a rather bold declaration. Her path to victory, she said, was God's plan."

NEW AD EXPOSES PATTY MURRAY FOR WEARING CRAPPY SNEAKERS, STEPPING ON CHILDREN - The new spot, from the right-leaning American Action Network, says the Washington senator is acting against the interests of small businesses, families and children. The group illustrates this point by having someone literally walk over a businessman and two children who, for reasons we don't entirely understand, were sprawled out in a park together. Anyone with information on why a dude in full business attire was prostrate in a park with two children should e-mail us at WE'RE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE KIDS HERE.

A conservative group in Illinois is super-annoyed that corrupt housekeepers are sucking the teat of Illinois machine politics by procuring barely-above-the-poverty-line incomes. The Illinois Policy Institute posted a blog entry yesterday bemoaning two state-employed custodians who earn roughly $28,000 annually, higher than the $21,000 earned by the average maid in Illinois. Progress Illinois:

BRINGING WEED TO THE CAPITOL BUILDING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA, FYI - "Tourists, visitors and staff undergo a strict screening process before entering the House and Senate and their respective office buildings, passing though metal detectors and an X-ray machine on the way. But in the past year and a half, police have stopped at least a dozen people who have entered the building with marijuana and other illegal drugs, including cocaine in one instance, according to police reports."

JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: It's going to be a wet ride home. A chance of thunderstorms, but I don't expect them to be too strong. They might last a while, though. Tomorrow: The cold front I predicted yesterday didn't come through. Instead, it combined with the warm front from yesterday, and produced a stalled occluded front in the Great Lakes region. The bad news is what you see today is what you're going to get for the near future. Expect hot (over 85) and humid. A chance of thunderstorms at night, but it won't help much. Thanks, JB!


- 12 offensive Mel Gibson quotes, presented by kittens.

- George Steinbrenner's best TV moments:

- A cat that really wants a piece of cake.

- Someone getting slapped in super slow-motion.

- The funniest New York Post headlines.

- The worst lawyer commercials.

- An orchestra of cars.

- The "Son of Sam" is getting an image makeover.

- A new ad campaign for whiskey-infused chocolate features some drunk-looking babies.


@thenote: I put Carl Sagan No. 2 and Robert Wagner No. 3, behind Steinbrenner. Steve Carell in top 5. #greatturtleneckwearers

@GregMitch: Steinbrenner arrives, fires Billy Martin in heaven

@thegregjohnson: They're saying to honor Steinbrenner tonight, each all-star is going to shave their facial hair & sign with The Yankees.


TONIGHT: Sherrod Brown and Judd Gregg discussed Wall Street reform on Hardball while the NAACP's Ben Jealous weighed in on the Tea Party. Chris Van Hollen talks to Ed Schultz about Obama's declining approvals. TOMORROW: Charlie Melancon and Tim Pawlenty are on Morning Joe and Daily Rundown, respectively.



6:30 pm: Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) raises the dough at an event benefiting his renomination campaign. John Thune (R-S.D.) provides backup [Caucus Room, 401 9th Street Northwest].


9:00 am - 3:00 pm: The Brookings Institution, which we're told isn't a group of 18-and-under David Brooks fans, welcomes leading technology and energy officials to discuss the future of the smart grid [The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW].

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Hey staffers, break up the monotony of your day with the hard-partying broheims at the American Soybean Association [Russell 325].

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Busboys and Poets hosts a discussion about progressive blogging. The sanctimony of the venue and subject would be overwhelming but thankfully the panelists are Think Progress's Amanda Terkel and the American Prospect's (and D.C.'s resident eyewear aficionado) Tim Fernholz [Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th Street NW].

8:30 am: Like frittatas? Like Kevin Brady (R-Texas)? Like distorting the lawmaking process in your favor? Head over to the Texas lawmaker's campaign event and enjoy [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

8:30 am - 9:30 am: Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) hosts a fundraiser at Sonoma Wine Bar. Oh look -- the invite highlights his seat on Appropriations... wonder why [Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar, 223 Pennsylvania Ave SE].

12:00 pm: It's Texas day at the Capitol Hill Club, apparently. John Culberson (R-Texas) passes the hat at the GOP redoubt [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm: Fighting tooth-and-nail to save her seat, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) cozies up with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association [NRECA, 219 Pennsylvannia Ave SE].

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Michael McCaul (R-Texas) strikes a real populist tone by attending a wine tasting hosted by the Online Lenders Alliance [Online Lenders Alliance (OLA) Townhouse, 330 Maryland Ave NE].

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), owner of maybe the worst congressional website, gets down at his "Fiesta" fundraiser at a lobbying firm [The Dutko Group, 412 First Street SE Suite 100].

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Who needs a new air conditioner when you can fork over $1,000 to Dan Boren (D-Okla.)? [The Williams & Jensen Townhouse, 324 Independence Ave SE].

6:30 pm: Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) hosts a "Financial Services Dinner" [Belga Cafe, 514 8th Street SE].

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