With everyone gossiping about the Oscars and preparing for National Pancake Day tomorrow, who'da thunk today would be so eventful? Barack Obama's decision to leave marriage undefended has forced John Boehner to step up and be marriage's Slomin's Shield. Wisconsin union voters, suffering buyer's remorse, suddenly identify with purchasers of MiniDisc players, Windows Vista and Lehman Brothers stock. And we learned that laser pointers don't kill people: Bored stoners who are out of weed kill people. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, February 28th, 2011:
So Chris Lee was scheduled to have a noon fundraiser tomorrow. Did his staff even bother to call and cancel? Or does the Capitol Hill Club have some sort of sex scandal alert mechanism built into its scheduling system?
WISCONSIN REPUBLICANS GOING AFTER STATE'S DEMOCRATIC STAFFERS - With Wisconsin's Democratic senators still camped out in Illinois, their staffers are under siege from the legislature's Republican leadership. Amanda Terkel reports Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has proposed that so long as his Democratic counterparts are at-large, their staffers will have to sign off on timesheets and will lose their copier privileges. So reads a motion submitted to the Committee on Senate Organization by Fitzgerald: "Until further notice from the Majority Leader, timesheets of any employee appointed by a Senator who is absent without leave for 2 or more session days shall be reviewed and certified by the Majority Leader rather than the employee's appointing authority." Now if this were Washington, Fitzgerald could probably just smoke lawmakers out by blocking their staffers' access to fantasy sports websites and revoking their BlackBerry privileges. [HuffPost]
A Public Policy Polling survey of Wisconsin voters indicates that if given the chance to redo November's elections, they would vote for Walker's opponent, Tom Barrett. If an election were held today, Barrett would defeat Walker 52 percent to 45 percent, according to the firm's findings. Most of this change stems from a sharp decline in support from union families (go figure) who would vote against Walker by 31-points, up from 14 in November. The good news for Walker is that a good chunk of that 17 point drop is camped outside his office building at this very instant. So if he acts now he can avoid a tiresome statewide campaign swing in one fell swoop. [PPP]
LAWMAKERS TOYING WITH MILITARY BENEFIT CUTS - There are only a handful of things in American politics that simply cannot be spun: Along with barbecuing bald eagle at your July 4th fundraiser, cutting military benefits is one of them. Running tonight in The Hill: "Once considered untouchable, some lawmakers and defense analysts are now talking publicly about enacting some changes to military healthcare and benefits. Top Pentagon officials have been warning for about a year that these two programs 'are eating our lunch' budget wise. John T. Bennett reports."
CAP AND TRADE SAVES JOBS, MONEY, WORLD: REPORT - Andrew Restuccia: "A regional cap-and-trade program established in the Northeast has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, created new jobs and lowered state energy bills, a report released Monday says." Naturally, such a program has no chance of becoming federal law anytime before the apocalypse. [The Hill]
Now that there's a two-week CR, the next calamity scheduled for March 4th continues apace: Four days till the NFL owners lock out the players
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Mary Baldassare, 59, works one day a week cooking at a sorority house in Madison, Wis. but has been without steady employment since 2008. She used to run a motel in Florida, and worked alternately as a hairdresser or a cook her whole adult life. Before her husband died in 1999, she said, they used to go out to dinner once or twice a week. She said not having the money to go out more often "makes me feel kind of worthless." She's got a few weeks of unemployment benefits left thanks to part-time work that interrupted her jobless spell. She said she's applied for every job she can find, including cooking and bartending gigs. It seems to her that businesses in Madison would rather hire college kids for the kind of work she can do. The experience of constantly applying for jobs and never even getting a response from employers makes her feel small. "I feel like I'm a little piece of lint on the earth. A little dust bunny," she said. "I have so much to give." [HuffPost]
U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CONTINUES TO EXPLOIT GULLIBLE COMPANIES FOR WALL STREET From Zach Carter: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a top lobbying front-group for Wall Street, is going to host a conference call tomorrow to promote a letter it's sending to the Hill concerning the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Chamber helped organize resistance to the CFPB during last year's legislative debate, running ridiculous ads in which local butchers complained about big government restricting their access to credit card rip-offs. Tomorrow they'll bring together 'a dozen industry groups' to offer 'constructive recommendations' on the CFPB. In other words, 'a dozen suckers banks are taking to the cleaners while trying to torpedo the new agency.'"
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GADAFFI: 'MY PEOPLE LOVE ME' - In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, the embattled Libyan leader -- already reaching Sheen-esque levels of incoherency * and resembling a Safari Ken doll that someone stuck in the microwave for thirty seconds -- told the ABC News reporter that he is basking in the warm embrace of his country. "My people love me. They would die for me," he said (at least the first three-fifths of that last sentence is correct). Gaddafi then tried to recast himself as a bulwark against U.S. imperialism, the Hey, look at that shiny thing over there! of geopolitics. "I'm surprised that we have an alliance with the West to fight al Qaeda, and now that we are fighting terrorists they have abandoned us," he said. "Perhaps they want to occupy Libya." [ABC News]
*Or is it the other way around?
REPORT: GOP BUDGET WOULD KILL 700,000 JOBS - An independent group's analysis of the Republican budget plan says it would lead to the elimination of nearly three-quarters of a million jobs. While we applaud Republican efforts to mitigate the loneliness of out-of-work Americans, we're pretty sure there are enough of them already to form a decently-size trivia team at their local bar. The report, from Moody's Analytics, says the party's plan to slash federal spending would slow GDP growth by .5 percent this year and .2 percent next year. "Shutting the government down for any length of time would also be taking a big chance with the recovery, not only because of the disruption to government services, but also due to the potential hit to the fragile collective psyche," the report's author, Mark Zandi, writes. How counterproductive! Next thing you know the GOP will start a war and try to win it with inadequately-armoured soldiers! Oh. [WaPo]
Eric Cantor lashed out at the report: "What kind of jobs is he talking about? Is he talking about government jobs? If so, why is the government hiring people it can't afford to pay?" Cantor argued in a pen and pad today, forgetting to add that the reason the government agencies wouldn't be able to afford them would be because the GOP cut their funding. "This is obviously an unsustainable solution and something we're trying to correct in our CR." Stupid postal employees and FBI field agents, get off the government teat! [HuffPost's Elise Foley]
CANTOR FAIL: Zandi wasn't talking about direct government jobs, but that quaint, apparently abandoned notion that government spending stimulates the economy when the private sector takes a cyclical dive: "If fully adopted, the cuts would shave almost half a percentage point from real GDP growth in 2011 and another 0.2 percentage point in 2012. There would be almost 400,000 fewer U.S. jobs by the end of 2011 than without the cuts and some 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012."
The BEA noted today that people are mostly saving the extra bucks they're getting from the Social Security tax cut -- a retirement program -- rather than spending it, at least for January.
ROLL CALL: HARMAN'S HANDPICKED CANDIDATE (IS THE CONSERVATIVE ONE) - Running in tomorrow's Roll Call, previewed here: "Jane Harman, whose resignation from Congress became official Monday, was courting a candidate to replace her two weeks before announcing she was leaving Capitol Hill. She won't officially endorse, but it's clear she prefers Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, the woman she refers to as her little sister. Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad offers an up-close look at the 36th district race, including Harman's 7 a.m. call to Hahn about her resignation and the stiff competition expected from Secretary of State Debra Bowen."
Marcy Winograd's late entry into the race improves the chances of Hahn, the conservative in the race, as Winograd and Bowen may split the liberal vote.
BREAKING WITH REID, PELOSI VOICES SKEPTICISM ABOUT GOP BUDGET PROPOSAL - The House minority leader isn't crazy about the budget proposal that reportedly made inroads on Friday. "Republicans want to cut an additional $4 billion, which includes stripping support for some pressing educational challenges without redirecting these critical resources to meet the educational needs of our children," Pelosi said in a statement. "This is not a good place to start." [The Hill]
BOEHNER: HOUSE GOP TO DEFEND DOMA - Last week President Obama finally remembered why he tied that ribbon around his finger two years ago and at long last decided not to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. For a terrifying second, conservatives worried that marriage would go undefended like a castle whose moat has been filled in with concrete. Luckily for them, they have John Boehner in their corner. "I'd be very surprised if the House didn't decide that they were going to defend the law," Boehner said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. "If the president won't lead, if the president won't defend DOMA, then you'll see the House of Representatives defend our actions in passing a bill that frankly passed overwhelmingly." [HuffPost]
The House debated the "Securing Cockpits Against Laser Pointers Act of 2011" today. A friendly public policy reminder: The people most inclined to go to the airport to point lasers at pilots are also the people who'd likely spend their days glued to their couches eating Bugles and watching Cash Cab marathons if marijuana were legalized. Why would they leave if their dealer never runs dry? In this foggy-eyed utopia, SCALPA would be unnecessary. Just sayin'.
Larry Craig was in the Capitol today
SCHOOL GROUP HIRED GIULIANI'S FIRM TO KILL BAN ON ABSURDLY CRUEL CORPORAL PUNISHMENT - We've linked to several stories lately highlighting K Street's ties to Middle Eastern regimes, in part hoping to underscore just how unscrupulous some of our nation's lobbyists can be. Is there a more dishonorable mission, we asked ourselves, than aiding the agenda of a government that specializes in making dissidents disappear and dispatching African mercenaries to brutalize their own citizens? Well, probably not. But taking checks from folks who electrocute children in the name of education isn't much better. The Boston Globe is reporting that The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, a special-needs school that regularly disciplines students through electroshock treatments, paid Rudy Giuliani's law firm to help squash a bill that would have outlawed that practice. After the House passed a bill last year that would have outlawed the use of restraints and other "pacifying" devices on schoolchildren, Judge Rotenberg Educational Center paid Bracewell & Giuliani $100,000 to derail the bill in the Senate. Edward D. Krenik, the lobbyist who is spearheading the firm's effort, says Giuliani is not involved with the client. T-Minus -15 seconds until one of the New York tabloids employ the inevitable "SHOCKING" pun. [Boston Globe]
Also, do Bracewell & Giuliani lobbyist give lawmakers and staffers PowerPoint presentations withClip Art depicting electrocuted children. How does this work, exactly?
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Union Cat is united with its union brothers and sisters in Madison. Union Cat also likes to play with balls of yarn. [http://bit.ly/hkP3Ww]
Sherrod Brown and Social Security advocate Nancy Altman are holding a conference call with the million or so members of Democracy for Alliance to strategize on the budget. You might as well jump on, too: CALL IN NUMBER: 877-669-3239 Access Code: 314 506 617
BOEHNER AXES GREEN INITIATIVE IN CAPITOL, STAFFERS DROWNING IN STYROFOAM - Whenever a new party takes power in Congress, the losing side inevitably forms a mental (and literal) laundry list of the comically nefarious things the conquering majority will force upon their vanquished foes. The Democrats will supersede local control of schools and implement sodomy lessons in third grade curricula! The Republicans will rename the ninth month of the year, "Reagantember"! Some of these concerns are valid, some aren't. So you better believe that when John Boehner decided to scrap a program aimed at reducing environmentally-harmful waste in the Capitol complex he really just wanted to shove his thumb in Democrats' eyes with as much force as a 61-year-old man can (and tanning cream stings bad). A reader on the Hill sends us a photo of formerly compostable silverware now being used in Capitol cafeterias. We'll take our public service Pulitzer now, thank you. [THE DAMNING EVIDENCE]
A staffer emails: "I actually felt pretty dirty drinking coffee from a Styrofoam cup this morning. I felt like I was stepping back into 1983."
Someone accidentally e-mailed this to Sam Stein: "Hi there Ezra!! I get A LOT of news alerts, newsletters, playbooks, etc. every single day (and some are delivered 2x's a day) BUT THE one I soo look forward to is YOURS!! (EZRA KLEIN'S WONKBOOK) ...if I was told I had to choose only one source of news in my email box each day, it would be a one second decision...wow, you just have this glorious way of writing and every time I am reading your great Wonkbook, I think how much I want to say "hey, thanks soo much for sharing your very special gift with me and the world...hope someday maybe I can meet you...my only other journalistic hero, besides you, is the incredible Nicholas Kristoff (N.Y. Times) ...thanx, thanx, thanx!!! Your Fellow Reader and a hopeful Pal, XXXXXX (XXXXX) My ph.#is XXX-XXX-XXXX and my email address is email@example.com Take care, Ezra!"
Just to be clear, this wasn't from Tim Fernholz. We're pretty sure.
The indisputable genius behind @MayorEmanuel has been unmasked and is, in fact, an indisputable genius.
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: We're looking at the potential of violent weather in the DC area, so being alert is the key in this situation. While rain is the constant, there is a possibility of strong winds sweeping in from the west. The southeast and Mississippi Delta areas have it worse; not only are they expecting strong rains and winds, but have the possibility of tornadoes as well. As of now, it looks unlikely that the threat will extend up to the DC area, but it may change. Tomorrow: With sunny skies and rapidly-warming temperatures, it should seem like a cakewalk compared to the rains of the evening. A pleasant reward after a tough day. Thanks, JB!
- Google Voice, loyal like a well-trained dog, will even transcribe butt-dials. Behold. [http://bit.ly/fDHFuo]
- Every year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gives golden statuettes to the most heartwarming biopic of the year. This is how those statuettes are made. [http://bit.ly/i4htFq]
- We're a little too obsessed with all the memes being spun off of the video for Radiohead's "Lotus Flower." Here's a break down of the Elaine Benes dance if Elane Benes were also having a seizure that Thom Yorke does in it [http://bit.ly/fwsHIw]
- Actually, one more: Make Thom Yorke dance to whatever song pleases you. [http://bit.ly/ehiEhN]
- A stunning video taken of the space shuttle Discovery's last launch, taken from an airplane. [http://bit.ly/g3a3pq]
- Why have 24 cats in glasses when you could have 25 cats in glasses??? [http://bzfd.it/hcQ1h3]
- When this policeman signed up for the job, do you think he planned on escorting ducks across the street? [http://bit.ly/hNpsqL]
- It's not a dog party if there isn't a dog conga line at some point. [http://bit.ly/fcRH5p]
@RahmEmanuel: The offer still stands to the man behind my foul-mouthed Twitter counterpart @mayoremanuel - $5K to the charity of his choice
@JC_Christian: Gov. Walker's goons setting up projector in rotunda to show 'Sex in the City 2"
@alexmleo: Charlie Sheen has officially gone from snorting Charlie Sheen to free-basing Charlie Sheen.
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm: Rep. Tom Latham is the man of the hour at a fundraiser benefiting his reelection. Scheduled to make appearances are John Boehner, Richard Burr and Saxby Chambliss. Is a House rep landing the speaker and two senators akin to the yearbook editor luring the basketball team to his party? Did Latham find the key to his parents' liquor cabinet? [409 G Street SE].
7:00 pm: Illinois' own Peter Roskam holds a campaign event at Johnny's Half Shell. Illinois, of course, is known far and wide for its, uh, shellfish [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW].
6:45 pm: Prejudiced crusades against world religions don't fund themselves, people. Pete King passes the hat around at the Islanders-Capitals game [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].
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