07/07/2011 05:25 pm ET Updated Sep 06, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - President: Yeah, These Debt Talks Aren't Going Anywhere

Allen West praised President Obama's Social Security messaging, so Osama bin Laden's statement lauding the commander-in-chief's ability to assemble a special ops team can't be far off. Tim Pawlenty might not be the Romney alternative he set out to be, but he IS the candidate who praised a meat-dress-wearing sexually ambiguous pop star. And Orrin Hatch thinks "poor" people should shoulder a greater part of the nation's fiscal burden, kinda like how they shouldered the avocado in that Chop't salad you had for lunch. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, July 7th, 2011:

PRESIDENT CALLS DEBT CEILING MEETINGS, SOUNDS FRUSTRATED - President Obama this afternoon interrupted Jay Carney's daily eye-making with Jake Tapper to announce a new set of debt ceiling talks. "Staffs as well as leadership will be working during the weekend," Obama said. "I will reconvene congressional leaders here on Sunday, with the expectation that at that point the parties will at least know where each other's bottom lines are." The president sounded a wee bit discouraged by the recent non-progress in the talks, admitting that Democrats and Republicans remain "far apart on a wide range of issues." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]


Chris Van Hollen tells Sam Stein that cutting entitlements is a no-no: "No one should expect that House Democrats are going to blindly support any deal," he said."But we have been very clear that we are not going to balance the budget on the backs of Social Security beneficiaries..If you want to do something to strengthen Social Security you do that on a separate track like Ronald Reagan or Tip O'Neil did."

Allen West is thrilled with the president's approach to Social Security negotiations. "I want to take this moment to commend President Obama for facing the facts that in order for us to bring our fiscal house in order, we need to take necessary steps to address mandatory spending such as Medicare and Social Security," he said today. If Steve King releases a statement commending Barack Obama for hitting the pitch-perfect tone with his "evolving" views on gay marriage, the president should just quit. [Orlando Sentinel]

Anybody who tells you Medicaid doesn't work is lying and evil probably not old, poor and sick. [One of your 20 NYT clicks.]

GRASSLEY OPEN-MINDED ON 14TH AMENDMENT - Chuck Grassley, in a call with local reporters, discussed the president's Constitutional authority to ignore the debt ceiling. "I think [the debt limit is] a discipline that Congress uses effectively from time to time, maybe not to cut down on the amount of spending but to have a refresher course," he said, according to a tape of the call sent HuffPost Hill's way. "It's a good discipline, so it bothers me if the Constitution provision would trump it, but that would be up to the courts to say. But who's going to argue against the Constitution? It's the basis of our government; it's the law of our land, and everybody has to abide by it." [HuffPost]

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is coming at it from the other angle: "If anything, section 4 of the 14th amendment simply makes clear that which I wish secretary Geithner would acknowledge -- and I hereby call upon him to acknowledge -- which is that he has a legal and a moral obligation to make sure that if the debt limit is not increased during whatever time that it remains in limbo, during whatever time that we face a debt limit induced shortfall, it is his obligation as the Secretary of the Treasury to use the first tax revenues coming in the door to pay our debt obligations, to pay the interest that's being accrued on our national debt." Like a line-item veto? Oh wait, that's unconstitutional.

John Cornyn and Lindsey Graham are pushing a resolution that it's the sense of the Senate that the debt limit is constitutional. Um, of course that's the sense of the Senate. What else would the Senate think about its own laws?

BOEHNER: DEBT CEILING DEAL POSSIBLE SOON, TAX REFORM ON THE TABLE - Speaker John Boehner today privately told his colleagues that there is a 50 percent chance that a debt deal will be reached in the next few days. "I get the impression that it's better than 50-50," Pete King said after a meeting with his conference. "It will be agreed upon in the next 48 hours; if not, it won't be for a long time." That same language was used by Rep. Billy Long, who also said that the likelihood of a deal in the next 48 hours is "50-50." [National Journal's Billy House]

Boehner himself told reporters this morning that his conference is open to tax reform. "We believe that comprehensive tax reform, both on the corporate side and the personal side, will make America more competitive, help create jobs in our country, and is something that is under discussion," he said. [Reuters]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - If President Obama strikes a deal with congressional budget negotiators to save money by switching to the "chained" consumer price index for tax and benefits purposes, it will be Obama's second regressive tax hike in a year. In December, a tax deal swapped the fledgling Making Work Pay tax credit for a one-third cut to the Social Security payroll tax, resulting in a tax increase for 50 million people who don't earn enough to benefit as much from the payroll cut as they did from Making Work Pay. The chained CPI's lower inflation rate would result in taxpayers being pushed more quickly into higher tax brackets, since the brackets would be shifting upward according to a rate of inflation lower than wage growth -- meaning wage earners would bear a disproportionate share of the tax increase. The change would bring in roughly $60 billion through 2010, according to an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation. More than two-thirds of the additional revenue in 2021 would come from people earning less than $100,000.

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MSNBC TURNS 15 - The cable network involved in some nebulous partnership with Microsoft celebrates its 15th anniversary with booze -- insert Lean Forward joke -- at 300 New Jersey this evening.

ORRIN HATCH: POOR PEOPLE NEED TO STEP IT UP - The veteran Utah senator is sick and tired of being sick and tired of all those people who are ... well ... sick and tired. Orrin Hatch today demanded that America's poor people get off of the couches they rent. "I hear how they're so caring for the poor and so forth," Hatch said about Democrats today. "The poor need jobs! And they also need to share some of the responsibility." His comments came after he voted against starting debate on that non-binding measure to encourage wealthy Americans to shoulder a larger portion of the fiscal burden. The upper chamber voted 74 to 22 to begin formal debate on the resolution. Stupid poors. [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]

Nancy Pelosi: "If there's a table that Social Security is on, it's on its own table."

Who might be the new number two at the Pentagon? These people might.

PEW SURVEY: AMERICANS OPPOSE ENTITLEMENT CUTS - As debt ceiling negotiators debate over the apparently separate Social Security table -- a table, we imagine, that hoards coupons and avidly reads Parade magazine -- a new Pew poll indicates that most Americans don't want said negotiators at said table to cut entitlement programs. Mark Blumenthal: "As the Pew Research report emphasizes, however, 'the public's desire for fundamental change does not mean it supports reductions in the benefits provided by Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.' When asked which is more important, large majorities tell the pollsters that they would rather leave the benefits of these programs as they are now rather than making cuts or expecting beneficiaries to take on more responsibility for their costs." [HuffPost]

NY DEMOCRATS NAME CANDIDATE FOR WEINER'S SEAT - Queens Democratic officials today announced that David Weprin, a state assemblyman, will be their party's nominee to fill the House seat vacated by Anthony Weiner. Weprin, an attorney by trade, was elected to the statehouse in 2010 after an eight-year stint in the City Council. There doesn't appear to be anything scandalous about Weprin, nor are there any immediately obvious double entendres to his name. However he does have a mustache so ... yeah ... be on guard. Republicans haven't yet settled on a nominee of their own. [NYT]

MITT ROMNEY MORE CHOREOGRAPHED THAN JULY 4TH AT DISNEY WORLD - Matt Lewis reports that Romney 2012 staffers have gone to great lenghts to make sure their boss -- a guy who looks like he was conceived by an Amex black card and an Audi dealership -- appears folksy and down-to-earth. "At first blush, Republican Mitt Romney's second bid at securing his party's nomination is a far more casual effort than his previous attempt. He's foresworn the same level of self-financing, traded in the Brooks Brothers' two-piece for Gap jeans and a Red Sox-embroidered polo, and his hair even seems to have a little give these days. But Romney's everyman reinvention is anything but casual: Every detail -- from dropping ubiquitous references of discount retail giants Wal-Mart and Target to sporting a pickup truck at fundraisers -- has been meticulously choreographed for the ex-venture capitalist so eager to shed the perception he's too slick, too stiff and too phony. The burden to control the narrative of Romney's truck-driving alter ego is so tough on his handlers that the ex-governor's media exposure is generally limited to columnists. (At Romney's May call-a-thon, traveling press was corralled in a 'glass-enclosed room' by campaign aides.)" [Daily Caller]

Tim Pawlenty said this: "Well you know, in terms of the beat, I like 'Bad Romance'... I gotta say, even though she's a little unusual, 'Born this Way' has some appeal. She's actually very talented. Now if you go to the end of the HBO special, the Lady Gaga HBO special, and you watch her sing a cappella 'Born This Way,' she can sing. She can definitely sing. She's talented. ... Interesting. Talented. A little weird." [Atlantic Wire]

@romenesko: Fully one-third of the news links on blogs last week were about Michele Bachmann. http://journ.us/q10JH0

SEN. WARNER HAS NO INTEREST IN GEITHNER'S JOB, APPARENTLY - The most dentist-looking member of Congress says he has no interest in serving as Treasury secretary. Random though that may sound, Warner's statement actually was a response to a Journal article last week floating the idea of Secretary Warner. The Virginia senator, the paper suggested, "could be tapped, as both have extensive relationships with Republicans and have tried to broker deficit-reduction deals." PISH POSH, Warner declared today during a local news hit. "I would not consider that kind of opportunity," Warner said of the Treasury post. "I don't think it's a realistic opportunity anyway." [WaPo]

President Obama's father considered giving his son up for adoption. "The elder Barack H. Obama, a sophomore at the University of Hawaii, had come under scrutiny by federal immigration officials who were concerned that he had more than one wife. When he was questioned by the school's foreign student adviser, the 24-year-old Obama insisted that he had divorced his wife in his native Kenya. Although his new wife, Ann Dunham, was five months pregnant with their child -- who would be called Barack Obama II -- Obama declared that they intended to put their child up for adoption. 'Subject got his USC wife 'Hapai' [Hawaiian for pregnant] and although they were married they do not live together and Miss Dunham is making arrangements with the Salvation Army to give the baby away,' according to a memo describing the conversation with Obama written by Lyle H. Dahling, an administrator in the Honolulu office of what was then called the US Immigration and Naturalization Service." [Boston Globe's Sally Jacobs]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Comedian Bill Bailey covers Metallica's "Enter Sandman" ... with bike horns.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: The two patches of thunderstorms are well to our north and south, respectively. This leaves a nice "bowling alley" in which we seem safe. I'm not ruling out a pop-up thunderstorm, I'm just saying it's highly unlikely. Tomorrow: A lot of moisture coming from the south will drop rain and possible thunder over the area. These can pop up all day, and will be a bit more unpredictable, so bring an umbrella. Thanks, JB!


- Patton Oswalt's 5-second film might be five seconds long and primarily concerns itself with kicks to the groin ... but it speaks volumes. [http://huff.to/q7P8BS]

- Indiana schools will no longer require students to learn cursive writing this fall. [http://huff.to/mRUAb8]

- Street artists have taken to creating urban optical illusions. [http://huff.to/prwx8C]

- Ziplining weddings are the new "everyone dancing down the aisle to Chris Brown songs" weddings. [http://huff.to/q5Yubr]

- Kittens in a bowl. That's right. [http://huff.to/q0eqrD]

- A list of six things that the space program is losing by scrapping the shuttle. [http://huff.to/pXwqqy]

- For all you film buffs, here's the original copy of a letter Stanley Kubrick penned to Ingmar Bergman in 1960, praising him for being "the greatest film-maker at work today." [http://huff.to/nMkwgr]

- Gorgeous time-lapse compilation of rising over downtown Chicago for a month. [http://huff.to/p6SjkF]


@delrayser: In current Social Security parlance, News Corp has decided to "strengthen" News of the World.

@Slate: #BizzaroSlatePitches: @NRO suggests we LOWER the debt ceiling. RT @daveweigel: Well, okay then. http://bit.ly/qcxf90

@OKnox: Email Subject Line Of The Day: "Libertarians: Casey Anthony gets off easy, just like Congress" #tasteful



5:30 pm: Celebrate the seventh day of the seventh month by drinking ... yup, you guessed it ... Seven wines with Rep. Mike Thompson. Thompson is a Democrat, otherwise we would have assumed that there was some weird Christian undertone to the whole seven thing [The Williams & Jensen Townhouse, 324 Independence Ave SE].


8:30 am: Kurt Schrader and Gerry Connolly a the guests of honor at a DCCC event intended to benefit the committee's "frontline" members. Rep. Jim Himes hosts [National Democratic Club Townhouse, 40 Ivy Street SE].

8:30 am - 9:30 am: Steve Israel sometimes has to look out for number one. He attends a campaign function at Johnny's Half Shell. The DCCC can just deal with it [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].

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