The Gang of Six, led by an anarchist comedian from Oklahoma, was applauded by the White House for throwing a pie in the face of the elderly. Bill Clinton doesn't need to parse the 14th Amendment. And Michele Bachmann suffers from a debilitating condition that calls into question her fitness to serve as president -- and also gets really bad headaches. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, July 19th, 2011:
GANG VIOLENCE RETURNS TO CAPITOL - A bipartisan group made up of roughly half the Senate met this morning to agree on a budget plan based on a set of peculiar principles: Old people pay too little for their own health care; there are just too many jobs and not enough job seekers; Social Security is too generous; the middle class doesn't pay enough in taxes, but corporate and upper-end tax rates are too damn high. Republicans Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins and Kay Bailey Hutchison came out of the meeting flashing their sign and praising a debt-reduction plan that comes close to $4 trillion over 10 years and includes both revenue increases and spending cuts. Now that it's a party, Tom Coburn wants back in. "This type of a wider audience may make him less important, particularly if there are other Republicans willing to step up," a Senate Dem aide says. According to a handout at the meeting forwarded to HuffPost Hill, the proposal would be scored by the CBO as cutting taxes by $1.5 trillion, a curious way to reduce the deficit. If we didn't know better, we might think we're being lied to. The proposal eliminates the alternative minimum tax at an estimated cost of $1.7 trillion over ten years. If you don't count the AMT -- which you shouldn't -- that means there's very little revenue in the deal, just cuts. The plan does go after the retirement, homeowner and charitable deductions. Something for everybody!
Here's a PDF of the terrible, no good, very bad Gang of Six outline.
But the buzzer may sound. Senate leadership sources said there is simply not time to work through the Gang of 6/5/7/mob, but Coburn thought the Senate could find the time if everyone believes senators are coalescing around his deal. "You can certainly make a case to make a conditional debt limit increase up until the time that this would have a chance to work, and then if it doesn't work, you're back to ground zero." Ground zero?
And, Matt Stoller asks in Politico, why doesn't the public get to be part of these conversations?
If the Tea Party won't off the Gang of Six, Democrats might. - Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) waved a big, red middle class flag that suggested the Gang/Mob could face a major reality check. "One of the questions will be, as you go forward in this, how is that going to affect key tax incentives that middle class people rely on -- like the mortgage deduction, their health and their retirement? That's where the bulk of the money is," Wyden said. "There has to be a clear recognition that you would have to dramatically reduce some of the tax incentives that middle class people have felt very strongly about."
And don't count out a Tea Party assassination. A GOP House leadership source peed all over the proposal as too weak, saying it doesn't whack Medicare and Medicaid enough, it separates out Social Security, taxes are not cut enough, and, well, they just don't trust the Senate.
USE THE 14TH AMENDMENT - National Memo: "Former President Bill Clinton says that he would invoke the so-called constitutional option to raise the nation’s debt ceiling “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me” in order to prevent a default, should Congress and the President fail to achieve agreement before the August 2 deadline." [National Memo]
@benpolitico: Allen West blasts DNC Chair @dwstweets "vile... despicable...not a Lady" is.gd/kuFeag
HOUSE CUTS AND CAPS - House lawmakers who worry that the U.S. might someday go bankrupt plunged ahead with a measure that was guaranteed to fail and raises the likelihood that the U.S. goes bankrupt in two weeks. The "Cut, Cap and Balance" bill passed/will pass this evening and head to the Senate, where legislation both good and bad goes to die. The measure includes a constitutional amendment limiting government spending, because the Tea Party clearly sees the Constitution as a flawed document.
What would the austerity measures Congress is pushing do to the middle class? Hill staffers: Find out tomorrow at 2456 Rayburn. The Center for Economic Policy and Research hosts a seminar led by Robin Harding, U.S. Economics Editor of the Financial Times; Adam Hersh, an economist with the Center for American Progress; and CEPR co-head Mark Weisbrot. It's being hosted by liberal Dems John Conyers, Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison.
RUPERT MURDOCH SHOWS UP TO PARLIAMENT DRUNK - or so it seemed. The News Corp. founder stumbled through his inquisition, slamming the table on occasion and, more or less, claiming that he knew nothing about the papers he ran... papers that were illegally hacking into cell phones and paying enormous amounts of hush money. Piers Morgan was fully erect through the entire thing. But the defining moment came when an anarchist comedian threw a shaving cream pie at Murdoch’s face. The “OH NOEZ” look on the faces of those doing the questioning was priceless. The right hook from Wendi Deng Murdoch will live on in the history books. [Gawker]
House Dem: Cut Up Your Credit Cards - Freshman Democrat Hansen Clarke of Michigan is mad as hell about your profligate ways and he's not going to take it anymore. "You want this government to get out of debt? Then you get out of debt personally. Stop the spending. Stop the borrowing. Stop overconsumption -- buying things you don't need with money you don't have," Hansen yelled at the blue-hairs and shut-ins watching C-SPAN today. "So I'm going to ask every American right now: Get out your credit cards, cut them up, free yourself, free yourselves. Don't count on this Congress to help you. This Congress already voted to end Medicare. They're flirting with disaster on this debt [ceiling] now." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]
A video of FDR warning about Eric Cantor is making the rounds.
MSNBC-HUFFPOST COLLABORATION ON LOUSY TRADE DEALS - Yours truly and MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan are teaming up this week for a series on the rotten trade deals expected to come before Congress in the next few weeks. Today's HuffPost piece, by Zach Carter, looks at the knots House Republicans are tied in trying to grope both corporate and Tea Party interests that have diverse opinions on trade. The president, meanwhile, is basically just making stuff up. "If you parse Obama's statements very carefully, they only talk about jobs created through exports," said Economist Robert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. Scott calculates that the Korea deal will lead to net U.S. job losses of 159,000. "They just ignore imports as though they don't exist," he said of the Obama administration. Also, union leaders keep getting murdered in Colombia and Panama's entire economy is basically just a farcical corporate tax haven.
HuffPost Hill got its own pie in the face today, when it was compared to a dead congressman who had an affair with a page.
President Bartlett addresses Congress: Martin Sheen played into the fantasies of both "West Wing" dorks and TMZ.com junkies today, when he testified at a Senate hearing on drug courts. The courts offer drug offenders the option of entering court-monitored treatment programs as an alternative to prison (though it often leads them to prison regardless). [HuffPost's Christina Wilkie]
FOLEY FROWNER: Margarita Luis, 61, an American citizen who emigrated from Cuba as a child, owns a construction company with her husband. But since her husband was deported to Mexico, she has been struggling to run the company on her own, and their home is now in foreclosure. She said the immigration system let her down by removing discretion from judges who might have taken her husband's good deeds into account and allowed him to stay. "I'm very proud to be an American, but do I trust what I'm hearing? Not anymore," she said. "I don't trust what the government says. I'm angry. There's people here who have money and have been able to get by all of this stuff. I know people who have had their spouses allowed to stay. So it's not a law that's in black, it's according to how the DHS officer feels."
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Michael Vick (!) lobbied Capitol Hill to increase penalties for dog-fighting spectators. [HuffPost's Christina Wilkie]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are kittens playing with turntables: [boingboing]
REDDIT COFOUNDER, PROGRESSIVE ACTIVIST ARRESTED FOR SOME BULLSHIT - New York Times: "Aaron Swartz, a 24-year-old programmer and online political activist, was indicted Tuesday in Boston on charges that he stole over four million documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers. The charges were filed by the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Carmen M. Ortiz, and could result in up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine." Swartz, a cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is perhaps HuffPost Hill's number one fan, so we are clearly partisans in this one. “This makes no sense,” said David Segal, who heads Demand Progress, a group that split off from PCCC and focuses on tech issues. "It's even more strange because JSTOR has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they've suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute." JSTOR's the one that should be in prison, man, for locking up knowledge. [Petition]
* Still, as one Republican online operative correctly asks: “Who the f*** steals from JSTOR?”
OBAMA BEGS CORPORATE AMERICA FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL MONEYThe Lookout]
Obama will nominate Maureen K. Ohlhausen to be commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission
GET BACHMANN SOME YELLOW GATORADE - Rep. Michele Bachmann suffers soul crushing, physically incapacitating headaches on a weekly basis, which makes her not all that different from your average mid-20s 18th Street stumbler, save the left over Jumbo Slice. But it’s left ABC’s Brian Ross demanding to know whether she ever took a sick day while in Congress because, ya know, that disqualifies you from being president or something. For that, he got roughed up by Bachmann’s Blackwater security forces. [Swampland]
HUNTS-MENTUM: A weird quirk of political history: the GOP candidate who wins the Tuscany primary has ALWAYS gone on to win the nomination. Rutherford B. Hayes went so far as to pull a Chris Dodd and move his family there during the fabled 1876 campaign. Well, congrats, Jon Huntsman, you're winning the Tuscany primary. [National Review]
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT
Tonight: Thunderstorms are popping up, but that doesn't mean we're going to be getting any relief. It's going to feel rather hot tonight, so keep the air conditioner on. Tomorrow: It's going to be just as miserable as today, perhaps moreso. 94, sticky, and getting worse this week. Go pie yourself, it'll be better that way. Thanks, JB!
Unconventional bookstores. Browse away. [Flavor Wire]
A year of NYTimes.com in a 5-minute montage. [gizmodo]
This ad is not selling anything you may expect it to be selling. [gizmodo]
In case you missed it, the Dark Knight Rises trailer is online. [techcrunch]
In the future, wars will be fought like this. But for now, PEWPEWPEW! [dvice]
What do you get when you combine a jet-ski & a jet-pack and launch it at a local news correspondent? [techcrunch]
Students have made a swordfighting robot. This can only end well. [ieee]
Sick of people oversimplifying politics? Too bad. Here are 8-bit portraits of the GOP candidates. [fastcompany]
@DRUNKHULK: ARE YOU HAPPY TEA PARTY!? THEY CLOSE BORDERS!
@DLIND: @elise_foley Damnit, I was hoping this was the Gang of 5-6-5 haiku, followed by the Cut, Cap, and Balance 5-5-5 haiku.
@KagroX: .....aaaaaaand the pie guy is dead. Natural causes.
5:30 p.m.: Paging 1999! President Jeb Bartlett, Chandler Bing, and the frontman from Phish will all be at a fundraiser for the nation's drug courts. Expect to see a bizarrely bipartisan crowd of lawmakers, ranging from fellow '90s TV star Al Franken, to fellow '80s pothead Rand Paul. [101 Constitution Ave, NW]
6:30 p.m.: Progressive Cocktail Party Caucus members who are not at the drug courts event can likely be found here, at the NLC's 40 Under 40 party. [616 North Carolina Ave, NE]
8:30 a.m.: For those who fancy breakfast at a raw bar, Pat Toomey invites you to a fundraiser at good old Johnny's Half Shell. [400 North Capitol Street NW #175]
11:45 a.m.: Fresh off a day of raising cash from the oil and real estate industries, Bob Corker hits up the property and casualty insurance folks. At this rate, all you fracking and tobacco lobbyists should probably check for your e-vite. [101 Constitution Ave, NW]
12 p.m.: "Style-conscious, eco-friendly boutique" hotels are not the first place we'd look for a GOP fundraising lunch, but we're not Mark Kirk at the Hotel George. [15 E St, NW]
12:30 p.m.: Proving that she doesn't need any old stinking NRSC fundraisers, Lisa Murkowski goes
totally conventional rogue at Charlie Palmer Steak. [101 Constitution Ave, NW]
5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.: Buckle your safety belts folks, because it's Rob Portman's "Annual and Awesome Chili Fest!" night at the NRSC. Provided he knows what's good for him, look for Portman upwind during his remarks. [425 2nd St, NE]
6 p.m. - Waaay late: The NRSC Policy Board will enjoy barbecue together while Portman shills his chili back at headquarters. We're pretty sure nefarious, top-secret planning is also on the menu. [410 7th Street NW]
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