While President Obama can't say enough nice things about Gene Sperling and his Republican politics, Republicans in New Hampshire are prosecuting a dude for simply being a Democrat. Industrious House members are sharing the pain of the housing crisis by shacking up in giant residences with Roman columns. And our proposed constitutional amendment banning the wiping of schmutz with American flags is gaining momentum thanks to Steve King. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, January 7th, 2011:
HOUSE CLEARS HEALTH CARE REPEAL HURDLE - Elections have consequences. Putting Ed Markey in a position where he has to say that the "Grand Old Party" now stands for "Grandma's Out of Prescriptions" on the House floor is one of them. That happened today. Another thing that happened was the House passed a rules bill for the HCR repeal bill. Democrats Dan Boren, Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre and Mike Ross voted for the measure. A vote on final passage is scheduled for Wednesday. Harry Reid said today that he won't even bring the bill to the floor if it passes the House.
The White House released a terse statement in response: "If the President were presented with H.R. 2, he would veto it." All right, then!
STEVE KING DENIED IMMIGRATION SUBCOMMITTEE GAVEL - House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith today selected Elton Gallegly to head up the Immigration Policy and Enforcement subcommittee. The move was a snub to Steve King, the panel's ranking member in the last Congress (when it was named something way longer and way more anchor baby-loving). Spurred on by this insult, King took to the House floor this morning and rambled on for a while about how much he loves the sound of flags dancing in the morning breeze. He also recalled a time that he saw some stupid hippie wiping his stupid hippie glasses with an American flag ("Japanese communists" were on hand to witness this, if you don't believe him). Then again, sadness might not have had anything to do with King's rambling's this morning. He might have said all of these things because he's Steve King. [The Hill]
MORAL HAZARD FAIL!!! HOUSE UN-OOPSIES OOPSIE BY GRANTING AMNESTY TO UNDOCUMENTED LAWMAKERS - The lower chamber today passed H.Res. 26, OKing almost all the stuff that Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick did after they DIDN'T attend this weeks' swearing-in because they were too busy at a FUNDRAISER. The bill invalidates their votes but establishes that they had been properly sworn-in with the rest of the House. So pretty much no one has to actually follow the official rules of the House. Got it. We will now make it our lives' mission to see if we can make one of the peanuts that Tom Coburn eats while on the Senate floor a fully voting member of the House of Representatives. Disturbing precedent set!
SPERLING AND OBAMA SHARE A TRUST-THE-GOP GENE - Gene Sperling's been officially elevated to Larry Summers' old gig. His politics are on pretty clear display in this essay he wrote for the fall 2007 issue of DEMOCRACY: "Rising-Tide Economics: In the twenty-first-century economy, growth and equality must go hand in hand." Or Just Read Noam Scheiber's NYT review of his book, the Pro-Growth Progressive: "The central assumption behind Sperling's engagement ethos is that both sides will negotiate honestly.... He concludes that we should all make "a good-faith effort to strike this balance." Certainly, we all should. But by this point in Bush's tenure, it's pretty clear that the White House is not negotiating in good faith.... [they] follow the same playbook: embrace the proposals of your corporate donors, then use a combination of procedural tricks and political hardball to ram them through Congress... In this context, engagement simply enables the Republicans to take Democrats for a ride." But that was ancient history. Sperling has spent the last two years meeting the new GOP and he'll meet an even newer one in his new gig. Shahien has more: [HuffPost]
We spent our day perusing House ethics rules to see if Mike Fitzpatrick broke any by holding his event-that-solicited-campaign-cash-but-he-won't-call-a-fundraiser fundraiser in the Capitol Visitor Center. The short version: Yes, it was illegal. The longer version. We asked Meredith McGeheee of the Campaign Legal Center if she planned to file a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics. "I do publicly at this moment," she said. HuffPost Hill's first ethics complaint!
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DID BILL DALEY GET ROBERT GIBBS TO STEP ASIDE? - The UK's Telegraph realized that more than five seconds have passed since it posted a factually dubious item on U.S. politics so they decided to make up for lost time. Toby Harnden -- who seems to spend his time penning articles like "Does Barack Obama want to be re-elected in 2012?" and reading his suspiciously long and well-cultivated Wikipedia entry that we're in no way suggesting he wrote himself -- posted a completely speculative piece this morning saying that incoming White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley ousted Robert Gibbs.* Gibbs denied that: "I made my decision and told the President before he left for Hawaii," he told Sam Stein in an email. "He picked Bill Daley yesterday. It [the story] is crazy." Daley himself dismissed the charges in an e-mail to Sam: "Robert's name never, ever came up once in any discussion I had with the President or staff about me coming to the White House." [HuffPost]
*Lesson of life: Any article that bases its conclusion on a paragraph that begins with "It's no secret that..." should probably be published in a burn book...and then burned.
Maybe Bill Daley also got Zeke Emanuel to quit!? Sarah Kilff: "Zeke Emanuel, a health adviser in the Office of Budget Management, left his White House post this week, a senior administration confirms to POLITICO. Brother to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who is now running for mayor in Chicago, Zeke joined the Office of Budget Management in February 2009, just as the health reform debate was getting underway. Emanuel will return to his old post, directing the National Institute of Health's bioethics department, a position he held for just over a decade before joining the administration. In academic circles, Emanuel is well-know for his work on end-of-life issues and euthanasia." (No death panel joke from us.) [Politico]
JOBLESS RATE DROPS TO 9.4 PERCENT, DOESN'T MEET EXPECTATIONS - The economy added 103,000 jobs in December but failed to generate the 170,000 positions that economists had been expecting. Also the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised its estimates for November, saying 70,000 more jobs were created that month than originally reported. At this point, the economy is starting to feel like a grating ex on the verge of a breakdown ("No I wanted to you to create 170,000 jobs WITHOUT me having to tell you!"). Now the economy is going to do something rash like
sleep with our best friend make the government buy up hundreds of billions of dollars of its own debt. D'oh. [HuffPost]
BANKS LOSE BIG FORECLOSURE FRAUD CASE - Zach Carter: "Too-big-to-fail, but not too-big-for-property-rights. The Massachusetts Supreme Court spanked JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citigroup and GMAC today with the first major ruling on the foreclosure fraud outbreak. The case was a bank lobbyist's dream. The borrowers were clearly delinquent, and the judges didn't even try to defend them. But the banks simply could not document that they had the right to foreclose on the home, because they hadn't bothered to document it. So if all you care about is kicking people out of homes, the banks clearly should have won. If you want to have a credible property rights system, the banks clearly should have lost. And they lost, proving that capitalism > feudalism. The foreclosure rate in Massachusetts is about to go way down. Next big question is whether New York will follow suit."
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent largely because 260,000 people completely gave up looking for work. The Economic Policy Institute estimates there are now 4.4 million "missing" workers. "Incredibly, the U.S. labor force is now smaller than it was before the recession started, though it should have grown by over 4 million workers to keep up with working-age population growth over this period." [EPI]
Here's the full story on yesterday's Mysterious Downer.
TERRIBLE INTERNET MYTH MUST DIE - Every time the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a declining unemployment rate, crazed Internet People say the rate only went down because people stopped receiving unemployment insurance. The thinking is that the government's plan to reduce unemployment is to crush the unemployed and recycle them into Four Loko ethanol. To wit, HuffPost received the following in an email today: "So why did the unemployment rate tick down to 9.4%? Because 400,000 people with unemployment insurance lost their unemployment insurance benefits in November 2010." No. NO. Gary Steinberg of BLS told HuffPost this is "the most persistent inaccuracy about the monthly unemployment rate." In fact, the unemployment rate is calculated based on a survey of actual households, and they don't just call up and ask "y'all unemployed?" either. Check it out. [BLS]
WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH NEW HAMPSHIRE? - Aside from the smell, that is...and Tim Fernholz. Republicans in New Hampshire are trying to throw a Democrat out of the state legislature for introducing a bill that accords with the Democratic Party platform, citing a conflict of interest because the legislator is a leading member of the state party. The move has the backing of the GOP leadership: "Republican Rep. Phil Greazzo, much like the wiley Capt. Louis Renault in Casablanca, was shocked, shocked to find that there was politics going on in the Legislature. He publicly accused Manchester Rep. Mike Brunelle, the executive director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, of violating the New Hampshire Constitution by taking fees and acting as an advocate for his party while filing legislation that benefited the party platform. He was shocked that Brunelle, who is also his party's floor leader, actually introduced legislation to help the poor by raising the minimum wage. Everyone knows that poor people only vote for Democrats and are notorious for buying off legislators." Go away, Phil Greazzo [Concord Monitor]
NRCC head Pete Sessions sent K Street an updated list of staff phone numbers. "This sure makes lobbying a lot easier," one lobbyist told Roll Call.
@Dceiver: Official @huffposthill theme song lnk.ms/JLhsz
GIULIANI CONSIDERING WHITE HOUSE RUN - CBS News is reporting that Noun/Verb might make another crack at the White House. This time, however, he'll would actually adopt the radical strategy of actually campaigning in New Hampshire. "The New York Post first reported on Giuliani's moves Friday morning. According to the Post, Giuliani is optimistic about his chances, predicting a Republican primary populated with far-right candidates like Sarah Palin. That would allow him to stand out as a moderate candidate with strong national security credentials. The Post reports Giuliani will meet with voters in New Hampshire next month. In an appearance on MSNBC this morning, the former mayor played down the latest reports but remained vague about his intentions. 'So far I haven't found any political advisors to round up,' Giuliani said. He added, however, that 'of course I keep in the back of my mind' the possibility of running again." [CBS News]
Ever the class act, Giuliani also took a swipe at his fellow Tri-State Area executive Chris Christie for mishandling the blizzard: "Chris should've come back. I mean, if he asked me my advice, I would've said 'They elected you governor, they've got an emergency, they expect you to be there.' You know, you've got to be there if you're a governor, a mayor, or even a president, if it's important enough."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - The Susan Boyle of dance.
LAWMAKERS PROVE THEY'RE LIKE YOU BY LIVING IN ORNATE MARBLE BUILDINGS WITH SERVANTS AND ARMED GUARDS - The New York Times has a piece today highlighting the dozens of House members who have chosen to crash in their offices while in Washington rather than find a second, non-district residence. This would be admirable if they weren't essentially opting for free housing in a full-service, adult luxo-dorm. HuffPost Hill shells out $950 monthly for a room in a house with inadequate insulation that often smells of excrement thanks to faulty plumbing. Living in a place gratis with underground access to a gym and a food court with an international cuisine section sounds sweet. Then there's this: "[Rep. Todd] Rokita simply found it unpalatable to pay $2,000 for the 600-square-foot basement apartment that his wife begged him to at least consider. 'I am much too fiscally conservative, not only with the people's money but with my own, to pay that much money,' Mr. Rokita said." WHAT IN GOD'S NAME MUST A 600-SQUARE-FOOT BASEMENT APARTMENT IN DC CONTAIN TO WARRANT A $2000-A-MONTH RENT??? Seriously, couldn't they have saved some money and maintained their well-cultivated stinginess by opting for an efficiency in Eastern Market? Or at least a basement apartment that doesn't contain a seven-foot-high, gold-trimmed chocolate fountain? Shut the hell up, Congress. [NYT]
GOLDEN-VOICED DEADBEAT - The New York Daily News caught up with the wife and kids left behind by Ted Williams, the golden-voiced homeless man making everybody feel so goddamned happy this week. "He wasn't involved," said one of Williams' many grown daughters. (His ex-wife, Patricia Kirtley, raised five of his kids; four were hers.) "Our mom was our sole provider. She is a more than phenomenal person. My father is a nice guy, but he fell victim to the streets. We prayed for him and we worried about him, but we became accustomed to the fact that he just wasn't there." [NY Daily News]
You know who else has a golden voice? Conrad Cheek Jr., who many Hill staffers know as the baritone hawking Street Sense newspapers around Capitol Hill. "Help a hardworking homeless man who doesn't panhandle for pence, because homeless isn't helpless when you've got Street Sense!" BUY STREET SENSE.
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Snow! Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your cars, because DC is going to get hit with ... under an inch. I never said that it would be huge. But this is DC, so any snowfall is capable of leaving this place traumatized. The snow continues through mid-day Saturday, leaving a warm and sunny Sunday. Thanks, JB!
- A cat and its quixotic mission to take down a washing machine [http://bit.ly/fO7T8Y]
- A self-described geek is publishing his journal from 1976 in its entirety as a blog. [http://bit.ly/esxoGm]
- Nothing to see here, folks. Just a talking house. Oh wait, there's that talking house. [http://bit.ly/eTXfeL]
- Baby bats wrapped up in blankets. Awwwwwwwww....[http://bit.ly/fxepso]
- Woman gives a "Black Swan" makeup tutorial and somehow manages to lampoon both the movie and our society's twisted image issues. [http://bit.ly/f22xGV]
- An early audition tape from Madonna for a part in "Fame." [http://bit.ly/i9TSuj]
- For the seven of you who still try to train your dogs, this corgi should put you to shame. [http://bit.ly/gyRLOK]
@KagroX: In another shocking development, it turns out that "State Your Name" has been sworn in as a Member of Congress.
@heyitsliam: GREAT NEWS: Unemployment fell from "a smidge under ten percent" to "slightly under ten percent." I'm getting a third mortgage to celebrate.
@jaketapper: my cat turned on CSPAN and swore herself in as a congressman. weird.
Meet the Press: Harry Reid, Ron Brownstein, Erin Burnett, Emanuel Cleaver, Raul Labrador.
Face the Nation: Jon Kyl, Chuck Schumer, Steny Hoyer,
This Week: Paul Ryan, Chris Van Hollen, Howard Dean, Dick Armey, Arianna Huffington (!), George Will.
State of the Union: Dick Durbin, Lamar Alexander, Austin Scott, Mike Lee, Ed Gillespie, John Podesta, Greg Ip.
All Weekend: Tom Carper hosts a weekend fundraising ski retreat in Colorado. Were Delaware's imposing slopes not enough? [The Park Hyatt, 136 E Thomas Place, Beaver Creek, Colorado].
All Weekend: Now wouldn't it be funny if Diana DeGette held her ski retreat in Delaware? Alas, she's not. She's holding it in her home state, in Vail. [Sonnenalp Resort of Vail, 20 Vail Rd, Vail, Colorado].
Tomorrow, 8:00 pm: Kingsley Food perform at Rock & Roll Hotel. Typefighter and Sounds from Atlantis open. [Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H Street NE].
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