Sarah Palin announced her "Bus to Nowhere" tour, drawing media attention away from T-Paw's incredibly interesting campaign staff. House Republicans don't think tornadoes or floods count as emergencies. And Dick Cheney horrifyingly worships the ground Paul Ryan walks on. This is an Eliot-less HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, May 26th, 2011:
Eliot Nelson's not around today. Apologies for this unfunny edition of HuffPost Hill from Grim and Delaney. It's the least funny thing since ELIOT JOKE TK.
HOUSE GOP AROUND THE BEND: TORNADO, FLOOD DESTRUCTION UNWORTHY OF 'EMERGENCY' DESIGNATION - Congressional Republicans argued all last year that unemployment benefits didn't deserve the "emergency" designation that would exempt them from "pay as you go" rules against deficit spending. An ongoing jobs crisis, they said, was not the same as an act-of-god emergency like a tornado or a flood. Turns out, tornadoes and floods aren't like tornadoes and floods, either. Jen Bendery: "House Republicans are increasingly divided over whether to pay for a massive emergency aid package for those impacted by the storms pummeling the Midwest -- an intra-party scuffle that comes at a time of a near-obsessive focus on cutting spending on Capitol Hill. GOP leaders are signaling they will push to come up with offsets to pay for such a package, which could cost billions of dollars and has been proposed in response to a week of tornadoes and floods that have decimated areas of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. The federal government typically foots the bill when it comes to responding to natural disasters, but Republicans in charge of the House say they plan to keep their message of fiscal discipline in line with their actions. 'There's not a question that there are going to be offsets if there is a request for a supplemental,' House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told The Huffington Post. Cantor said it is important that people 'reach out in their hearts for the people who suffer,' and emphasized that he believes the federal government should play a role in responding to natural disasters. But at the same time, he said, 'We can find things we don't need to spend on to pay for it.'" [HuffPost]
From a POLITICO newsletter today: "POLITICO Influence, presented by POLITICO Jobs."
Paul Ryan's budget may have cost the GOP a new York House seat -- and doom them next year. But at least he has the undying devotion of the prince of darkness. "I worship the ground the Paul Ryan walks on," Dick Cheney told the Houston Chronicle.
EARMARKS HAVE BECOME ADD-ONS - An earmark by any other name is still congressionally directed spending (the kind the Constitution calls for, but that the public only likes in specific, but not abstract, terms, for whatever reason). Earmark foes aren't happy with the renamed earmarks. Amanda Becker: "Sen. Claire McCaskill warned the House Armed Services Committee Thursday that she will strongly oppose its version of the Defense authorization bill when it comes to the Senate because it contains provisions she said are tantamount to earmarks. "I will be working with my colleagues to ensure that no similar attempt to add earmarks is pursued in the Senate," the Missouri Democrat wrote in a letter to Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.). "If necessary, I will also seek language in a conference between the House and Senate that will ensure that any earmarks included in your bill, should they survive to become law, will undergo the most extensive scrutiny and transparency possible upon implementation." [ROLL CALL]
SARAH PALIN TOURING EAST COAST - Sarah Palin -- because why not? -- is flirting heavily with a presidential run. Jon Ward: "Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is beginning a bus tour of the eastern United States starting Friday in the nation's capital, the latest in a string of moves that indicate she may be moving closer to running for the Republican presidential nomination." [HuffPost]
SWIPE FEE FIGHT TOO CLOSE TO CALL - With Reid promising a floor vote shortly after the Memorial Day break -- hear that, House? Memorial Day break? -- the lobbying is kicking into whatever gear is above the gear it's been in. Bank lobbyists are eyeing The Economic Development Reauthorization bill -- which'll be one of the first brought up -- as the vehicle for the Tester amendment, which would delay caps on swipe fees for 15 months (and, in reality, kill it outright). Dick Durbin and his merchant allies haven't been sitting back, though. The retailers announced today a bunch of local Hispanic Chambers of Commerce were backing the Durbin amendment; as HuffPost Hill reported earlier, Durbin personally lobbied the national Hispanic Chamber to get off the bank side.
Bank lobbyists are expressing confidence they have the votes -- then again, bank lobbyists always express confidence, because, c'mon, they're bank lobbyists. But judging by how incessantly Jon Tester's been lobbying his colleagues during each vote, he's either well short or gunning for 80 votes.
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST ANNOUNCES 'NAME THAT SHADOWY ORGANIZATION' COMPETITION - Our favorite PSLGOPL, joke tk, wants HuffPost Hill readers to help name former White House honcho Bill Burton's new campaign spending group. Referring to himself in the third person, as he does, PSLGOPL writes, "PSLGOPL would like to suggest a contest for HuffPost Hill readers to name Bill Burton's shadowy secret corporate/union cash collecting group. My vote is: All the President's Men (APM)." Herewith, HuffPost Hill is open for suggestions. Thanks, PSLGOPL!
With friends "like" these... Rep. Patrick McHenry may be regretting calling Elizabeth Warren a liar -- and that open Facebook posting policy he has. About 15,000 people have "liked" him on his fan page to post angry demands that he apologize.
Simon Rosenberg stormed off the set of Fox today.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue (D) does not like the latest attempt by Republicans in the General Assembly to link unemployment benefits and budget cuts, which is bad news for the tens of thousands of jobless North Carolinians who want their benefits back. Charlotte resident John Allison, 37, told HuffPost he thought it might be time for Perdue to consider compromising. Allison said he'd been collecting unemployment since he lost his job as a landscaping consultant in 2009 until the checks stopped in April. He's not sure how he'll make his next rent payment. "I'm starting to run out of money and starting to get a little worried about it," he said. "I have maybe a couple of hundred dollars left and I have bills to pay." [HuffPost]
CONFIRMED: ECONOMY SUCKS - "In its second estimate of the economy, the [Commerce Department] said gross domestic product growth was unrevised at annual rate of 1.8 percent, below economists' expectations for a 2.1 percent pace." [Reuters]
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ALAN SIMPON'S LATEST CRANKY RANT - Deficit commission honcho Alan Simpson now refers to his critics as the "cat food commission cats." Woah, that's meta. [HuffPost's Zach Carter]
PETE ORSZAG UNLOADS EGGHEAD TRASH TALK ON DEBT CEILING - At the Pete Peterson Institute for International Economics, former Obama budget boss and current Citigroup cashout king Pete Orszag predicted that the Capitol Hill bailout coalition would ride again this summer: "We probably won't get to even that kind of more conceptual agreement [on the debt ceiling] without experiencing sudden temporary turbulence in the bond market, a la what happened with the TARP vote, where initially the vote was rejected and then there was a financial market response, and then TARP was enacted. So if we roll into July and all the sudden there is a little bit of a panic....that's the kind of course I think will be required in order to bring the parties together."
ORSZAG'S HEALTH CARE REGRETS - "If we had a medical malpractice system that reinforced that emphasis on best practices we would be in a much better position; so if that pop up screen for my doctor in five years also meant that the doctor knew that if he or she followed those best practice protocols I couldn't sue him or her that would help to drive a lot more medical practice." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
Nuclear Commish Greg Jaczco ain't taking the beating lying down: "In the last several weeks, however, a skewed picture of the NRC has been painted in some stories -- one of missed opportunities and delayed enforcement suggesting an ineffectual regulator. Nothing could be further from the reality. Here are examples that demonstrate why I strongly disagree with the tenor of these recent accounts." [HuffPost]
BlueGreen Alliance Eats Apollo: - POLITICO: "Two major environment-labor coalitions are consolidating their forces permanently. Following the lead of other cap-and-trade advocates who overhauled their efforts after the bill's demise last year, the BlueGreen Alliance and Apollo Alliance announced plans on Thursday to merge their staff, budgets and boards. The combined Minneapolis-based organization will keep the BlueGreen Alliance as its official name. It will also maintain its mission of promoting manufacturing and energy policies with a green bent to them." [Politico Pro, which means they want money]
SIERRA CLUB SORT OF ENDORSES AT&T MERGER - What's up with this? "Expansion of broadband technologies to rural America brings a vital 21st century infrastructure to all our communities and will conserve energy by eliminating carbon emission related to travel and promote other efficiencies through smart grids and smart meters accessed through broadband." That's the flimsiest rationale for backing a merger since [TK ELIOT JOKE], so what did they really get? "While we typically don't weigh in on this type of merger, we did want to weigh in on the potential for expanded broadband," a Sierra Club spokeswoman said.
MITCH DANIELS FUNDRAISING CASH IN DC - Mitch Daniels' wife might not let him run for president or watch the Sunday night game if he also sat through the 1:00 p.m. one, but she's okay with a trip to Washington to raise money for his former employer, the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He was in town last night for a well attended fundraiser, we're told.
CLYBURN CALLS IT - Jim Clyburn says it plain: "I can tell you -- people don't like to deal with it, but the fact of the matter is - the president's problems are in large measure because of the color of his skin." And: "I don't know why anybody didn't ask for John McCain's [birth certificate]...He wasn't even born in this country." (McCain was born on a U.S. military base in Panama. He claims.) [The State]
Former Reason editor Radley Balko published his first story for HuffPost yesterday evening, the tale of a botched pot raid in Arizona that killed an apparently innocent former Marine. Today, a HuffPost reader suggested: "Mr. Balko, These raids happen all the time. You should inform yourself. Read this report and online map from the Cato Institute." Balko wrote the report and built the map. [HuffPost]
The WeSupportWarren.org campaign now has more than 150,000 signatures calling on Obama to recess appoint Elizabeth Warren to the CFPB.
JOSH MARSHALL CAN BENCH PRESS MORE THAN YOU - The New York Stock Exchange wants TPM to take down a picture of the New York Stock Exchange on a story that doesn't really have anything to do with the New York Stock Exchange, but TPM editor Josh Marshall refuses to be bullied by large corporations. "TPM's small but we have big teeth. And we don't like being pushed around," Marshall writes, apparently because he has a higher max than your boyfriend. "We're here in Chelsea at TPM HQ and the NYSE is just a few dozen blocks away down in the financial district. But no matter what they throw at us, we're hanging tough." Say it to my face, NYSE!!! [TPM]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - The Times published gripping first-person video of a soldier in combat in Afghanistan.
OBVIOUSLY PHONY 'GRASSROOTS' GROUP PROVEN PHONY - Who needs the word "astroturf" anymore when the term "grassroots" these days basically means "not grassroots"? Norm Coleman said in November that his nonprofit "American Action Network" would be all about harnessing center-right enthusiasm and turning it into "real grassroots action." Turns out that from July 2009 to June 2010, the group got ALL its $2.75 million from fewer than a dozen donors.
CARLY'S CANNABIS CORNER - Medical marijuana will soon face some big business battles. On one side: A gaggle of compassionate congresspeople. On the other: Your typical douchey credit card company. House lawmakers from The Great Hippie States of Colorado and California introduced three bills this week that would provide great relief to struggling dispensaries (which are, after all, small businesses in their own right). One would give pot proprietors unlimited access to banks for loans and credit. Another would allow such shops to deduct business expenses from their federal tax returns. And a third would protect these outposts from federal prosecution as long as their owners comply with state laws. All great news, but here comes American Express to sour some of the fun: For undisclosed reasons, the credit giant has denied its customers access to purchasing medical mary jane using AmEx plastic.
We can see the ads now: At the Compassionate Cannabis Center, they will take you to another plane, but they won't take American Express.
JB'S WEATHER REPORT -
A very pleasant night, if you're not going too far west. Lows in the 60s, with clear skies. However, a strong line of thunderstorms (producing possible tornadoes) is moving north. That front is just west of I-81. It won't bother us, not tonight, at least. It's a good night to
do some stargazing -- after all, we now have target'=_hplink">most of the universe mapped. Tomorrow: A decent chance we wake up to rain and thunder, but the threat of rain will persist all day. Potential stormy weather may delay your hasty exit out of town. Thanks, JB!
- Some enjoyably NSFW outtakes from the enjoyably NSFW Bridesmaids. [http://bit.ly/m52j96]
- A surprisingly engrossing short film of New Yorkers telling the camera what they're listening to on their music players. [http://bit.ly/j4MqGY]
- An informative and enjoyable video on how Scotland became part of the United Kingdom. [http://bit.ly/mKX5zU]
- Your adorably spontaneous yet choreographed wedding video of the week. [http://bit.ly/jXi7SZ]
- Because it's unfair if only dogs can star in "animal with human hands eats a meal" videos, someone made one with a cat. [http://bit.ly/iE37be]
- Next time you feel frustrated that you'r MacBook is pinwheeling too much, be glad you don't have to use these North Korean laptops. [http://gizmo.do/mGPXDI]
- A D.C.-area kid scoring a sick bicycle kick goal during a pee-wee soccer game. [http://bit.ly/jvJ1VC]
- Hamburger shoe is shoe-like. [http://bit.ly/k1fFlM]
@KagroX We're not just gonna go to New Hampshire, Katie. We're goin' to all of 'em. All the Hampshires.
@pourmecoffee If we could just cut taxes for the rich a little more, it would spur health-creation.
@lizzieohreally So I just got in trouble for loitering. Which is kind of hilariously awesome.
6:30 pm: Roy Blunt's "Rely on Your Beliefs (ROYB) Fund," (or, as we like to call it, the "Oh I see what you did there" PAC) gets an early jump on the newly-minted senator's reelection [Washington Golf and Country Club, 3017 N Glebe Road, Arlington].
7:00 pm: Paul Simon, one of our favorite solo acts ever, performs at 9:30 Club. We're bummed we can't make it, but see if he'll play "The Coast" for us [9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW].
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