Funny the difference a day makes. Yesterday, everyone was rooting against President Obama's tax cut compromise. Today, everyone is rooting for the structural integrity of Bernie Sander's bladder. As the inadvertent Flomax pitchman powers through his ninth hour of filibustering the deal, the White House is already doubling down on its GOP-ish fiscal agenda for next year. Sheila Jackson Lee is taking a victory lap after being the first rep to say "99ers" on the House Floor. And Tim Geithner is quantitatively easing up after unloading some of his toxic assets. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, December 10th, 2010:
BERNIE SANDERS PHYSICALLY FILIBUSTERS TAX CUT DEAL - Going on nine hours now. The Vermont senator today launched a principled stand against the president's tax cut compromise by launching an actual, honest-to-God, USDA-certified Grade A filibuster (or is it?). At 10:25 he took to the floor and began talking. "You can call what I am doing today whatever you want, you it call it a filibuster, you can call it a very long speech," he said. "I'm not here to set any great records or to make a spectacle. I am simply here today to take as long as I can to explain to the American people the fact that we have got to do a lot better than this agreement provides." Under-40 Washington types scrambled for towels as their neurons frantically strung together comparisons to the "Stackhouse Filibuster" episode of the West Wing where an aging, politically ostracized senator makes a stand against a health bill. Somewhere, an over-eager, low level White House staffer burst into a meeting where he didn't belong, yelled "I think Senator Sanders' grandson is on unemployment insurance!!!" ...and was promptly fired.
Senior Bladder Correspondent Sam Stein sends us this update: "Sanders office adamantly refuses to discuss how, exactly, he is controlling his bladder while talking for hours on end. But they did provide a bit of context and color with respect to the filibuster effort. Before heading to the floor the Senator took a stop at the Senate cafeteria for a last meal and drink of sorts. What he ate and drank wasn't clear to the aide. Or, perhaps, the aide didn't want to tell. But it was enough to satiate him for the time being. The more remarkable note may be that Sanders actually gave an hour long speech on the same topic late last night - 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm - which, the staffer notes, precluded him from getting a lengthy sleep prior to Friday's theatrics. Throughout the filibuster the Senator has been rotating out a number of fairly banal signs. Many of them are taken from past Sander's speeches. Some (how many isn't clear) were made for this occasion. The decision to riff off of Arianna's book during his floor speech was unexpected to some of the aides. But so too has much of the stemwinder. Finally, Sanders isn't the only one partaking in the filibuster. Throughout the ordeal his senior economic adviser, Warren Gunnels, has been sitting beside him. The entire speech is being transcribed but not by one transcriber. They have been filtering in and out though, the aide said."
This C-SPAN graph breaks down today's Senate floor activity
TAX DEAL COULD RAISE TAXES ON ONE-IN-THREE WORKERS - Despite all the chatter about the tax agreement being a working class windfall, the deal might actually translate to a tougher first and fifteenth of every month for roughly one in three workers. The culprit is the Social Security tax cut Republicans pushed as a replacement for the current Making Work Pay tax credit. The Making Work Pay credit gives workers up to $400, paid out at 8 percent of income, meaning that anybody making at least $5,000 gets the full amount -- and gets as much as anybody else. Its replacement knocks two percentage points off the payroll tax cut, meaning a worker would need to make $20,000 to get a $400 break. Of the nation's roughly 150 million workers, around 50 million make less than $20,000 and will see at least some increase as a result. [HuffPost]
BILL CLINTON MEETS OBAMA, TOUTS TAX DEAL - Brian Montopoli: "Former President Bill Clinton made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room Friday afternoon to express his support for the tax cut compromise worked out between President Obama and Congressional Republicans...Mr. Clinton said that 'the agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach.' He said Democrats should act now because 'I don't believe they can get a better deal by waiting.' He argued that Republicans will have less incentive to accept Democratic demands to extend unemployment insurance benefits and tax breaks for middle- and lower-income Americans once the new Congress starts." [CBS News]
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST TELLS US HOW TO DO OUR JOB - 'Tis the season for our favorite Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist's New Year's Resolutions For Other People. On the second day of Christmas, PSLGOPLNYRFOP said to me: "HuffPost Hill should start sh*tting on the unions, trial bar and environmentalists," emailed PSLGOPL, after roasting chestnuts on an open fire to fry the tiny CIA cameras embedded in them. "At least until they start ponying up for ad space. C'mon guys, get with the program. Politico has this down to an art form." And a partridge in a pear tree! Sage business advice, PSLGOPL!
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Sheila Jackson Lee said on the House floor Thursday that any deal to preserve tax cuts for the rich ought to include help for people who have exhausted 99 weeks of benefits and still haven't found work. She said the deal should "further include those who have run up against a brick wall, the '99ers,' as they call them, [who] don't have any more resources but still have mortgages and food to pay for and bills to pay." Oh well. [HuffPost]
Check out the dumbest column ever written. [BusinessInsider]
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PRESIDENT MULLING DEFICIT REDUCING, TAX-LOWERING 2011 AGENDA; PRESIDENT A DEMOCRAT - Jackie Calmes: "President Obama is considering whether to push early next year for an overhaul of the income tax code to lower rates and raise revenues in what would be his first major effort to begin addressing the long-term growth of the national debt. While administration officials cautioned on Thursday that no decisions have been made and that any debate in Congress could take years, Mr. Obama has directed his economic team and Treasury Department analysts to review options for closing loopholes and simplifying income taxes for corporations and individuals, though the study of the corporate tax system is farther along, officials said. The objective is to rid the code of its complex buildup of deductions, credits and exemptions, thereby broadening the base of taxes collected and allowing for lower rates -- much like a bipartisan majority on Mr. Obama's debt-reduction commission recommended last week in its final blueprint for reducing the debt through 2020." [NYT]
GIBBS: STAND ALONE DADT VOTE COULD AVOID FILIBUSTER - Sam Stein: "Speaking the day after a defense authorization bill carrying a DADT repeal failed to pass the Senate by a 57-40 vote, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs affirmed that the president would support efforts, championed by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), to consider overturning the ban on gays in the military alone. Encouraging repeal proponents who, at this juncture, cling to hope's last threads, Gibbs suggested that this latest vehicle had better chance of passage than those prior, owing to a procedural path that could avoid a 60-vote minimum. 'The president remains committed to seeing this repeal done before Congress leaves town this year,' Gibbs said at an off-camera briefing. '[There were] 57 votes yesterday, and frankly, you can see how you get even more. And I think there could be a legislative vehicle that starts in the House as a stand alone and withstands procedural hurdles and puts the Senate on the record on an up or down vote for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.'" [HuffPost]
Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Here's Obama ceding the high ground at the right time: "One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize - an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice. Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was."
Timothy Geithner at long last unloaded his toxic assets today. Just not the kind you'd like. William Alden: "Tim Geithner will undergo minor surgery to have a kidney stone removed, according to various reporters. The Treasury secretary was hospitalized on Friday.
Geithner experienced severe pain Thursday evening, Treasury spokesman Steve Adamske said. According to reports, the secretary was admitted to George Washington University hospital Friday morning, where he awaits treatment for a kidney stone. Geithner will have a "minor surgical procedure" to remove the kidney stone Friday afternoon, Adamske said, adding that Geithner should be ready to return to work on Monday. Still, he's had to cancel plans to appear on Sunday talk shows, the WSJ notes." [HuffPost]
WILL FOREIGN POLICY PLAY A ROLE IN 2012 PRIMARY? - Once upon a time, in a strange, mysterious place called 2004, Scott Petersons roamed free, Ocean only had twelve friends and foreign policy actually played a significant role in presidential poetics. Amanda Terkel: "[T]here is a growing sense that a 2012 contender could distinguish himself or herself by giving voice to the skepticism many in the party feel about the Afghanistan war. It may not in the end be a recipe for victory -- more a gateway to a somewhat-isolationist segment of the base that prizes 'truth-telling' on foreign policy matters. But if the 2008 presidential race was any indication, there's a brewing anti-Afghanistan war sentiment within the conservative movement that a candidate could capitalize on. "There's a great opportunity for a Republican to distinguish themselves by taking a strong position on bringing the troops home from Afghanistan," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a strong critic of the war who has advocated -- and voted for -- redeployment. "It's a very conservative position. It will unite the right and the left, and it would certainly play well to independents." [HuffPost]
RICK SCOTT HINTS AT STATEWIDE SCHOOL VOUCHERS - Because it's never too soon to indoctrinate our children to the idea of Social Security saving accounts, Florida Gov-elect Rick Scott yesterday hinted at a proposal that would grant vouchers too all of the state's schoolchildren. Ron Matus and Michael C. Bender: "According to Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, the proposal would allow parents to take an undetermined percentage of the state's per-student funding amount -- last year, it was $6,843 -- and direct it to the school of their choice, public or private...Sherman Dorn, an education professor at the University of South Florida, said the idea would likely face the same legal hurdles as Florida's first voucher program. The Florida Supreme Court struck down Opportunity Scholarships in 2006, saying they violated a constitutional provision for a 'uniform system of free public schools.'...The state's two current voucher programs serve disabled and low-income students and for them, "You can plausibly make an argument that it's an equity issue," Dorn said. 'But when you say let's give a voucher to a lawyer who makes $250,000, when their kid is doing just fine in a suburban school, a lot of people are going to say, 'What? Huh? This is sensible public policy?''" [St. Petersburg Times]
FORMER GOV. GARY JOHNSON: I WAS THE CHRIS CHRISTIE OF NEW MEXICO - "You woke up this mornin'/ Got yourself a gun/ Your gallery curator likes frescoes of the Los Lunas sun" Neil King Jr: "It's a rare presidential candidate who makes it clear, right up front, that if he doesn't succeed, he'll be just as happy chilling on the ski slopes back home. But such is Gary Johnson, the laidback, 57-year-old libertarian former governor of New Mexico, who is now crisscrossing the country as he weighs a potential run for the Republican nomination in 2012...He acknowledges he could face a number of better-known governors who are trimming spending in the states right now, while he ledt office eight years ago. But that doesn't faze him. 'I was Chris Christie in New Mexico-I just didn't receive the same publicity,' he said, refering to the high-profile Republican governor of New Jersey." What exit, governor? [WSJ]
HITCHENS ON TEA PARTY - "So, Beck's '9/12 Project' is canalizing old racist and clerical toxic-waste material that a healthy society had mostly flushed out of its system more than a generation ago, and injecting it right back in again. Things that had hidden under stones are being dug up and re-released. And why? So as to teach us anew about the dangers of 'spending and deficits'? It's enough to make a cat laugh." [Vanity Fair]
"Why does explosive diarrhea always hit at the most inopportune times? While we can't for the life of us figure out why our friends at CNN had this 'Dumb and Dumber' scene anywhere near a segment on student protests in Europe, we're glad they did--the end result is nothing short of hilarious." [HuffPost]
JEREMY THE INTERN'S WEATHER REPORT - Let's cut to the chase... Snowpocalypse III on the way? No. This morning, I was alerted to a few tweets worried about a potentially bad low pressure system moving eastward that could become a nor'easter and damage the Eastern Seaboard Sunday into Sunday night. The short answer is that, while we can expect rain/snow/freezing rain (there's a difference) on Sunday into Monday morning, there should be minimal precipitation and no chance of anything sticking. The massive low pressure system will be riding the jet stream, coming to the south (warning to people heading to Northern Arkansas -- you may be hit hard) before tracking northeast. We will be either grazed by the southern edge of the storm, or get a direct hit. Either way, it's a very good sign. We don't want to be on the "left" side of the storm, as that would be the side that is bringing cold precipitation (snow). We'll be on the better side -- the rain side. Up the East Coast, the chance of bad snow will be higher, but we're talking New England, maybe New York at the southernmost (if the storm hits us directly). Friday into Saturday: Cold tonight, warming to the 40s tomorrow with clear skies. Thanks, JB!
- This "Despicable Me" short brings all the family-friendly CGI wit you've come to expect from these types of things [http://bit.ly/fT1xsH]
- OK, so: These guys got a C-3PO pinata, stuffed fireworks in its feet, attached a camera to its head, and ignited the fuse. And you thought the internet was just for porn!!! [http://bit.ly/gaPanw]
- The 25 worst cover songs. We didn't realize Vanilla Ice covered "Fight the Power" (extra points if you can get the Brady Bunch [http://bit.ly/gJcwQW ]
- We'd be surprised of art students do anything OTHER than lip-sync to Lady Gaga all day [http://bit.ly/e8UKY2]
- The next time we're in a Swedish ice hotel we're going to stay in the "Tron"-themed room[http://bzfd.it/f6JDWl]
- We're only going to warn you once: You can't unwatch "Tailgate Mom Boogies Down" [http://bit.ly/dIwr1a]
- Shut up, post-irony. [http://bit.ly/g4okJh]
@meredithshiner: WH blasts release saying Flint mayor supports #taxcut plan. Somewhere, Michael Moore has spontaneously combusted.
@Mikememoli: "bernie sanders filibuster" 2nd on Google trends hot search only to "miley cirus bong" http://bit.ly/fJdviv
@MPOTheHill: It might not be a car chase, but Shep Smith's bringing his A-game to anchor the #filibernie
Meet the Press: Mike Bloomberg.
Face the Nation: Jerrold Nadler, Howard Dean.
This Week: Salam Fayyad, Tzipi Livni.
Fox News Sunday: Paul Ryan, Chris Van Hollen, Stephen Breyer.
State of the Union: Dick Durbin, Elijah Cummings, Jim McDermott.
NEXT WEEK'S HOLIDAY PARTIES
4:30 pm - 7:00 pm: The National Farm Bureau hosts its "Taste of the States" holiday party. So if you're the type of person who likes to lick Delaware, this is your jam [Holiday Inn Capitol Hill, 550 C Street NW].
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: The Telecommunication Industry Association's Holiday Reception features fiber optic fun (sorry) [Occidental Grill, 1475 Pennsylvania Ave NW].
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm: NEI has its holiday party at Charlie Palmer Steak.
Break some bread. Split some atoms. Have a great time [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW].
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Dow Lohnes Government Strategies celebrates all the work it does helping the little guy [Sonoma, 223 Pennsylvania Ave SE].
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm: If the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association can't have a raging holiday party, no one can [The Source, 575 Pennsylvania Ave NW].
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Third Way's holiday party will feature good, moderate fun. Not too much one way or the other. Just a pleasant time [Sonoma, 223 Pennsylvania Ave SE]
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm: iConstituent, which provide communications services for Congress, provides a different kind of service with its open bar holiday soiree [L2
Lounge, 3315 Cadey's Alley NW].
6:30 pm - 9:30 pm: The Center for American Progress holds its annual holiday fete at the 9:30 Club. Word is no one dances until John Podesta dances. Words to live by [9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW].
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