Maine Republicans are bristling at GOP Governor Paul LePage's recent attempts to sound like a Franco-American Chris Christie. The U.S. Labor Department took a break from idly standing by as collective bargaining rights evaporate to get into the art appraisal racket. And after two years of astonishing progress when America's collective emotional state notched up from "soul-melting ennui" to "entrenched malaise," Obama 2012 is at long last fired up and ready to go! Yes we can! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, April 4th, 2011:
TOMORROW: CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS HUDDLE AT WHITE HOUSE FOR BUDGET TALKS - Jay Carney announced at his briefing that leaders from both parties along with leading budget committee members will meet with President Obama to try and break the impasse over finalizing a budget for the rest of the year. "There was work over the weekend," Carney said. "The president made those phone calls and is calling this meeting precisely because he is concerned [about keeping the government funded]." Really, it's not unlike all those millions of Americans huddling around their kitchen tables right now trying to figure out their own budgets .. except instead of a kitchen table it will be convened at one that seats 16 people and is made of polished wood and instead of an actual kitchen they'll be flanked by the ornate false skylight and triglyph molding of the Roosevelt room. Same thing. Or not. [HuffPost's Elise Foley]
House Speaker John Boehner doubled down on his Tea Party-appeasing, anti-budget compromise stance today, rejecting a reported agreement between Democrats and Republicans. "Despite attempts by Democrats to lock in a number among themselves, I've made clear that their $33 billion is not enough," Boehner said in a statement, "and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors. That's unacceptable." It was just last week when Boehner cautioned that a government shutdown could lead to diminished profits for government contractors, so take this with a grain of the salt that Michelle Obama is trying to keep away from your kids.
Former Patrick Kennedy flack Derek Pearce is heading to American Bridge. Also joining the firm are Rodell Mollineau and Bradley Beychok. Mollineau will serve as President and Beychok will be the Campaign Director for the 2012 cycle.
@pbondi #Durbin supporters strike back against #Tester supporters on #metro ad campaign in swipe fee/interchange fee battle. http://twitpic.com/4fbgxx
Peter Bondi is a senior aide on the Senate Banking Committee. Somebody give him a handwriting test.
BILL KRISTOL IDEA DOESN'T PAN OUT, WORLD STILL SPINNING ON AXIS - After Bill Kristol made the
bold suggestion that Paul Ryan run for president, Jon Ward surveyed some prominent conservative operatives to get their opinions on the idea. As Jon writes, the idea "fell flat with the conservative political establishment." "I guess Bill Kristol will just have to stick to prognosticating," [Republican fundraiser Mel] Sembler told Ward.
Tomorrow in Roll Call: "Gov. Brian Sandoval and other senior Nevada Republicans are directing a wholesale overhaul of the state party as the GOP moves to organize an advanced voter turnout operation capable of reclaiming the Silver State from President Barack Obama in 2012, writes Roll Call's David M. Drucker."
Tomorrow morning in The Hill: "Many lawmakers are not contacting their local law enforcement agencies about public events in their districts months after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Lawmakers were directed to contact local law enforcement about events and to immediately assign an office liaison to coordinate member activities with local police in the wake of the Giffords' shooting, which left six people dead, including a congressional aide and a federal judge....many police and sheriff departments say they still don't hear about events lawmakers plan for their districts, according to interviews with more than a dozen local law enforcement departments."
"The latest target of American nuns' righteous rage is Goldman Sachs"
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST WHINES ABOUT CREW, CREW TELLS HUFFPOST HILL TO SHOVE OFF - In a typical whiny email to HuffPost Hill, our favorite Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyst asked us to find out why Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has not yet sounded off on Claire McCaskill's epic plane controversy. When we dutifully asked Sloan, she said: "CREW no longer comments for the Huffington Post." Maybe it has something to do with this story labeling Sloan a shill for the for-profit college industry. [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - In a meeting with President Obama, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus discussed a bill to give another 14 weeks of unemployment insurance to the long-term jobless, but said it would be too costly to do so and that the matter should be dropped. CBC chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said after the meeting that his staff "found that the cost of that program would be between 14 and 20 billion dollars, which is cost prohibitive," according to Crew of 42, a blog about the CBC. "So there was no point in the President saying, 'Yeah, I support it.'" Reps. Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott are meeting with John Boehner and Eric Cantor on Thursday to discuss their bill to provide the extra benefits. [a href="http://www.crewof42.com/?p=5178" target="_hplink">Crew of 42<]
ECONOMISTS WHO TALKED HOUSING WITH TIM GEITHNER TODAY - Laurie Goodman, Amherst Securities; Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs; Christopher Mayer, Columbia Business School; Karen Dynan, Brookings; David Wilcox, Federal Reserve Board; Andrew Figura, Federal Reserve Board.
Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill
Someone mailed Rep. Pete King a severed pig's foot with a note that read "Kiss my black Muslim ass". HuffPost's Mike McAuliff reports that it is unclear whether the porker's pied actually REACHED the congressman's office or not. That's the thing about mailing severed animal appendages to lawmakers' offices, it can take WEEKS what with all the screening. It's usually best to have an intern walk it over themselves.* [HuffPost]
*No, that's not usually best.
OBAMA ANNOUNCES REELECTION CAMPAIGN, CATCHES FLAK FOR STUPID CATCHPHRASE, WILL HOLD MASSIVE CONFERENCE CALL TONIGHT - The president officially launched his reelection effort this morning in an email and video announcement sent to supporters. President Obama will also address thousands of supporters in a conference call tonight. "This will be my final campaign, at least as a candidate," the president wrote in his email. "Today, simply let us know you're in to help us begin, and then spread the word." The email was accompanied by a web video featuring a diverse swath of Americans talking about the campaign's importance. "I think it needs to reflect the changes we've seen in the last two-and-a-half years," Katherine from Colorado says, somewhat fittingly as everyone in the video appears WAY MORE sober than the wide-eyed hope-bots of 2008. [HuffPost]
A good .62 seconds or so after the announcement, Tim Pawlenty's campaign released a video response. In the clip, featuring the Pawlenty campaign's now-familiar use of light-drenched b-roll and J.J. Abrams-ish shaky camera shots, the former Minnesota governor took a swipe at the "Win the Future" angle. "How can America 'Win the Future' when we're losing the present?" he asked. Not to belabor the point, but is this really the direction campaigns are headed? Are simple staring-into-the-camera-and-speaking video responses a thing of the past? Are all presidential candidates now expected to respond to their opponents using video editing techniques that have been popularized for at least ten years? Is Haley Barbour going to provide a retort to next year's State of the Union using the 360-degree bullet cam from The Matrix? * [Boston Globe]
* That would be awesome.
Richard Trumka spoke to Andrea Stone about the AFL-CIO's endorsement process: "We have a process we go through when it comes to endorsing candidates and we're nowhere near going through that process. Now, if I was looking through a crystal ball and I would say, 'Are you going to endorse President Obama as opposed to Sarah Palin?' the answers are real good... or Michele Bachmann? ....Chances are we will endorse him and we'll do what we do for every candidate that we endorse. We'll educate our members, we'll mobilize them and do everything we can to get them to the polls."
32 CONSERVATIVES DEFEND WALL STREET OVER WAL-MART - If you were wondering which secretive corporate overlords are funding Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth or 29 other conservative groups, here's a potential clue: A total of 32 conservative organizations sent a letter to Capitol Hill on Friday urging Congress not to crack down on debit card swipe fees, which currently reap a total of $8 billion a year for 10 banks -- at the direct expense of retailers and consumers. It's not a surprise to see many of these groups opposing something that costs banks money, but organizations ostensibly devoted to conservative principles rarely do explicit lobbying to benefit one entrenched corporate interest at the expense of another. Does the Christian Coalition, for instance, believe that God wants Wall Street to win the swipe fee war, not Wal-Mart? Meanwhile, Grover Norquist, the National Taxpayers Union and the National Tax Limitation Committee have decided to throw their weight behind a battle that has zero implications for tax policy. In a similar move, Reps. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), Ed Perlemutter (D-Colo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich) and James Renacci (R-Ohio) sent a letter to other members today regurgitating bank lobby spin on swipe fees.
WHITE HOUSE: KSM WILL NOT BE TRIED IN CIVILIAN COURT - On the same day that President Obama announced his reelection campaign, the Justice Department made an announcement that utterly contradicts the principles and spirit on which the president first launched his campaign in 2007. Fired up and ready to deny individuals due process in a haze of nefarious secrecy! Alleged 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried in a military commission in Guantanamo Bay rather than in a civilian court in a less internationally reviled location, a reversal of the administration's earlier opinion. Short of renouncing Facebook in favor of Friendster, we can't think of a way to herald the reelection campaign in a manner more antithetical to the original Obama ethos. [HuffPost]
In a stunning turn of events, an administration official faulted Congress for something. "The reality is, I know this case, in ways that members of Congress do not," Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference today. "I have looked at the files. I have spoken to the prosecutors. I know the tactical concerns that have to go into this decision. So do I know better than them? Yes." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
MAINE GOVERNOR FACES CRITICISM FROM HIS OWN PARTY FOR LABOR MURAL REMOVAL - Republican Governor Paul LePage's behavior since taking office has more closely resembled that of a hard driving New York City mayor than a New England state executive. His brash, don't-give-a-flip attitude would suggest that there are legions of squeegee men needlessly harassing the residents of Bangor and that Portland's theater district has become dangerously overrun with peepshow theaters and is in need of a Disney makeover. Apparently, this sort of thing has its limits in a place known more for bed-and-breakfasts than seedy motels that rent by the hour. LePage's decision to remove a labor mural from the Department of Labor's offices and his flip comments about the matter have provoked a public rebuke from his Republican colleagues in the state Senate. A question about protesters vowing to form a human chain around the mural prompted this response from LePage: "I'd laugh at them, the idiots. That's what I would do. Come on! Get over yourselves!" THAT comment has now prompted eight Republican senators to write THIS in a letter: "But for him to announce that he would 'laugh at the idiots' should they choose to engage in our honored tradition of civil disobedience is another personal attack that only serves to further lower the bar of our public discourse." Sorry, Paul! [HuffPost's Senior Mural Correspondent Amanda Terkel]
TERKEL (KIND OF LITERAL) TAKEDOWN- Terkel also reports the U.S. Labor Department is threatening LePage with a fine of $60,000 for the cost of the mural if it is taken down. Someone PLEASE put it on Etsy.
WHITE HOUSE COMMENCES WEST WING CONSTRUCTION - The White House is in the early stages of a massive renovation of utility lanes in the White House complex. The initiative, led by the General Services Administration, is expected to cost $376 million and officials hope to have it completed by 2014, well into the second year of the Trump/Cain administration. According to USA Today, there have been grumblings about an ulterior motive to construction, suggesting underground tunnels and bunkers are being built. Observers have already dubbed it "The Big Dig" in honor of the massive highway overhaul in Boston that temporarily made driving in that city even more terrible than it normally is. [USA Today]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A six-year-old a href="http://bit.ly/e2YV0L" target="_hplink">applied to be the director of a rail museum. If Rick Scott is ultimately forced to take those high-speed rail funds, he now has just the person to implement them.
CONSTRUCTION WORKERS IN TOWN - The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades is flying in to Washington and prepped the way with a week long Playbook buy and assorted other web ads. It wasn't easy for the hardhats to embrace all this newfangled media, but what the hell, why not? "I think some people look at us, they see a union that represents construction workers, and are a bit surprised when they see everything that we're doing with new media," Jimmy Williams, the union's general president, told HuffPost Hill. "But they shouldn't be...For example, not so long ago we were putting job alerts out by telephone and faxes. Today, we're texting them out to thousands of members' mobile phones and posting them on Facebook and other web sites."
McDonalds announced that it will create 50,000 positions on April 19th: The oft-joked about day when things get so bad that we all apply for fast food jobs is nigh. In a statement, the company portrayed the decision less as a profit-motivated move but as a boon to the U.S. economy. The addition of 50,000 potential hires translates into $54 million more in payroll taxes contributed to the broader economy," it read. "Using a statistical multiplier effect, 50,000 new workers will generate almost $1.4 billion in annual spending - more than $3.5 million per day." We're really looking forward to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report next month highlighting our economy's McRib-based recovery. Long live the McStimulus. [Atlantic Wire]
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - A storm is a'brewing. The obscenely hot temperatures and high humidity are causing problems through the Midwest; this will lead to troubles on the East Coast. Tonight: The rain and heavy wind will begin after sunset. Lightning, possible hail, blinding rains are all forecast. Memphis has seen wind gusts up to 70 mph from this storm system. Some tornadoes have been reported; twisters aren't out of the question for the area. Tomorrow: Rain from the back end of the system, with some thunder and lightning. After sunrise, we'll see some strong winds, but sun and good temperatures (not as hot as today). Thanks, JB!
- This hyper-narrow furniture that neatly folds into the wall is to Murphy beds as a MacBook Air is to a 1997 Toshiba laptop. [http://bit.ly/e77wR6]
- This baby dog trainer has such an authoritative presence that we shudder to think the armies she will command by the time she is 14 [http://bit.ly/dV6G0V]
- Pitchfork has LCD Soundsystem's last show at Madison Square Garden streaming in its entirety. [http://bit.ly/g9zr5i]
- This homemade shotgun made out of a pipe and stapler really has us wondering about the effectiveness of gun control laws. [http://bit.ly/gXPVBM]
- An OK Cupid analysis of its profiles indicates that atheists are more likely to be grammar Nazis. [http://bit.ly/hSzKqO]
- We really like this picture. [http://bit.ly/8otY5l]
- Italian university students are flocking to Norwegian classes so they can understand Norwegian heavy metal lyrics. [http://bit.ly/hQVwfZ]
- Part of HuffPost Hill recently welcomed a baby into the world. This parenting book is right up our alley. [http://bit.ly/fqO8Qe]
@carriedann: Two of the 3 times that the word "job" is mentioned in Obama's re-elect vid, it's in reference to the one Obama currently has.
@BronxZooCobra: Anyone know any melancholy harmonica songs?
@pourmecoffee: Obama announced re-election bid. His opponent will be chosen when GOP finishes filming its version of Cannonball Run IV.
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: HuffPost Hill, one-third New Yorker that it is, is always amused by New York pols hosting deli-themed fundraisers, no matter how much they might be perverting democracy. Jerry Nadler adds to the pile with his "Third Annual 'Nathan's to Zabar's' Reception" [The Williams & Jensen Townhouse, 324 Independence Ave SE].
6:30 pm: Mel Watt, attends a ... ::deep breath:: ... "Tech Community Sponsored NCAA Basketball Viewing Event." Rolls right off the tongue [1023 Massachusetts Ave. NE].
7:30 pm: Hank Johnson, famous for openly questioning whether Guam will capsize and sink into the sea, goes bowling. Scheduled to make an appearance is Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn [Lucky Strike Lanes, 701 7th Street NW].
5:30 pm: Jo Ann Emerson is the guest of honor at a "Special Evening," maybe the most suggestive description of a fundraiser we've ever heard. Eric Cantor will apparently be there [Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE].
6:00 pm: Everyone's favorite legislative sociopath, Ben Nelson, who probably has some sort of "Rosebud"-like childhood trinket hidden away somewhere that he loves above all else, gets in league with some insurance dudes [Property Casualty Insurers Offices, 444 N Capitol NW, Suite 801].
6:00 pm: Sherrod Brown, Congress' most gravely-voiced lawmaker (who we think should start a 1-900 line so heavy smokers and Tom Waits impersonators can get together), passes the hat [Trattoria Alberto of Capitol Hill, 506 8th Street SE].
6:30 pm: Given its name, we assumed the "Fund for a Conservative Future" advocated for time itself to advance more slowly, meaning their fundraisers are likely just symposia on space-time relativity. Apparently it's Jim Inhofe's PAC. Whatever [P.J. Clarke's 1600 K Street NW].
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