Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL -- Obama, Boehner, Bad, Weak

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President Obama's goal of giving the GOP everything it wants continues to be thwarted by the GOP. Senate Democrats are taking cues from Nancy Pelosi, venting their rage in private at White House functionaries. And a Republican representative finally spoke the truth, observing on the House floor that "financial institutions are the heart and soul of America." This is HuffPost Hill for July 21st, 2011:

OBAMA ISN'T WEAK, HE'S JUST BAD - The White House insists that July 22nd is the last day that Congress can introduce debt-ceiling legislation and still pass it in time to avert default, yet is showing little interest in the legislation with the greatest chance of becoming law, McConnell-Reid, which would effectively transfer debt-ceiling authority to the executive branch in exchange for $1.5 trillion in cuts. Instead, the administration is myopically focused on a "big [fucking] deal" that would cut $3 trillion in spending, yet include no enforceable means of raising additional revenue. Can we for once and for all abandon this notion that Obama is a weak negotiator? He's not weak, he just wants different stuff than most Americans. A New Fox News poll asked respondents if they would still support a favored candidate if that candidate voted to increase taxes. The result? More said they would, by a 45% to 38% margin. Obama last week called the debt ceiling a "unique opportunity to do something big" -- by which he means "do less for the American people" -- and he has little intention of passing it up, even if it means driving the nation to the brink of default. [Fox News]

BOEHNER BAD, ALSO WEAK - It takes two to blow things up this badly, and Obama hasn't done it alone. A day before the deadline, John Boehner is still publicly backing a constitutional amendment as part of a debt ceiling deal, putting his own speakership ahead of the full faith and credit of the nation. But whatever, we don't spend our time worrying about Boehner. He can do what he wants.

Congressional Democrats are meeting with the White House this evening, so look for more fury later tonight.

There was a short-lived Twitter freakout this afternoon when The New York Times tweeted, "NYT NEWS ALERT: Obama and Boehner Close to Major Budget Deal, Officials Say." Boehner and the White House quickly denied this report, and the NYT was forced to rush out its story backing up the tweet. The Gray Lady's haste came across in the byline: "Was/cnd FISCAL ex Hule."

@ZekeJMiller: Typos throughout rush NYT report http://j.mp/p37hGo

HuffPost Hill, meanwhile, had details of the plan.

Maria Cantwell apparently drilled OMB man Jacob Lew a few extra holes in a Senate Dem meeting this afternoon, as did a number of other Democrats, according to Senate sources. And why not? If the White House was about to demand that you vote to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, you’d get in a few licks too. "The thinking was, before July 4 we were in the position of strength. Why are we now not negotiating as if we are in a position of strength?" asked another aide. "These deals are big. It is hard to know what is in them, especially when they are done with your backs against the wall... and especially when the president is [crafting them] in private meetings with Republicans." A top Dem operative: "Why would they have concerns about Tom Coburn negotiating our policy?"

MIDDLE CLASS TAX HIKES IN DEBT DEAL - The mob running loose in Washington is gonna do what it's gonna do, no matter what we or Ben Bernanke say, we get that. But we just want you soon-to-be-former members of the House and Senate to know just what it is you're proposing, so you can head to your K Street retirement with eyes wide open. Social Security Works' Daniel Maran: "The chained Consumer Price Index (CPI), a provision included in the Gang of Six's deficit reduction package, raises taxes on low-and moderate-income workers, according to a recent report by the Joint Committee on Taxation. This belies the claim that the harm done to the middle class by the chained CPI's benefit cuts would be partly off-set by the revenues it would generate....if the chained CPI were enacted in December 2012, in 2021 the tax liability of low-income workers with incomes between $10,000 and $20,000 would increase by 14.5 percent, while those with incomes of $1 million and above would see only a 0.1% increase, according to the report." And then there's the cut to the mortgage deduction. [HuffPost]

It's all bullshit anyway. David Dayen: "How in the would do you lower rates, cancel the AMT, get nothing from the corporate side, promise not to nix the biggest tax expenditures, and raise at least $3.5 trillion? That’s the cost of the AMT, $1.7 trillion, plus the revenue raising targets, $1.8 trillion. I’m NOT EVEN COUNTING the money you would have to make up for lowering the individual rates. You’d have to tax Wall Street trades or add a carbon tax to get to that number." [FDL]

The SEIU is making its own case for tougher labor laws on browbeating bosses. The union intimidated workers in the run-up to a California election, to persuade them not to join the NUHW, a judge ruled. WaPo

WARNER, HYBRID REPUBLICAN ON CONFERENCE CALL TONIGHT - From a "No Labels" press release: "Two members of the Gang of Six from opposite sides of the aisle, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Senator Tom Crapo (R-ID), will both participate in a bipartisan conference call TONIGHT...about the Gang of Six proposal and how No Labels members can best make an impact and push for a substantive bipartisan solution." There is no Tom Crapo in the Senate, but the real question raised here: No Labels has "members"? Real people actually sign up to be part of a group that explicitly stands for nothing?

A day after a HuffPost/MSNBC series went ripshit over the rotten trade deals the administration is pushing comes news that votes on them will be pushed till after the August recess. So Obama's clearly making decisions based on daytime cable.

SCOTT BROWN TAPS WALL STREET As Democrats get more and more excited about a possible Senate run by Wall-Street foe Elizabeth Warren, the financial industry is already throwing money at Sen. Scott Brown (R). He brought in $315,000 from individuals and entities in the financial sector in the second quarter of 2012, approximately 16 percent of his total haul of $2 million. In the first quarter, Brown raised just over $404,000 from the financial industry, the third-highest amount of all Senate candidates. [a href="hhttp://huff.to/po8J0Q" target="_hplink">HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

DAILY CALLER ACCUSES ROGERS OF BIAS IN DEBT COVERAGE - A kid named Jeff Poor from The Daily Caller wrote a piece today wondering if David Rogers, the most well-respected and best-sourced reporter in the Capitol, is biased against Republicans. Yes, The Daily Caller. Seriously. The Daily Caller. The DC doesn't like that Rogers' coverage of the debt ceiling debate has consistently (and angrily) noted that Republicans have been rather uncompromising. If he got that wrong, it's news to us. [DC]

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61 House Democrats today urged Obama not merely to protect Social Security, but to reject future payroll tax cuts, which threaten the program's funding.

STATES NOT SURE ABOUT THIS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT - More than 600 state-based groups signed on to a letter to Congress and are calling on their members in each group to contact Congress in opposition of the Balanced Budget Amendment. In the letter, originally sent out last week, said the required cuts by the Balanced Budget Amendment, since tax increases would become nearly impossible, would be deeper than the draconian cuts in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed budget and would prolong effects from recessions. "A balanced budget amendment has no place in the Constitution of the United States," the letter says.

HARRY REID ON CUT, CAP AND BALANCE - The Senate will vote tomorrow on Cut, Cap and Balance, which Reid announced by calling it "some of the worst legislation in the history of this country." Here's more: "I think this piece of legislation is about as weak and senseless as anything that has ever come on the Senate floor, and I'm not going to waste the Senate's time day after day on this piece of legislation which I think is an anathema to what our country is all about." Tell us what you really think, Harry. [HuffPost]

TOM COBURN STRIKES RAW, BLOODY NERVE When the senator from Oklahoma confidently bet a porterhouse steak that President Obama wouldn't have the guts to stand behind a veto threat of "Cut, Cap and Balance," some Democrats thought he had a point. "I nearly vomited my chicken sandwich," one Democratic aide told HuffPost Hill. "It rings so fucking true. We're going to get rolled." Another, less-colorful Democratic staffer agreed the GOP might have cause to doubt the President's mettle. "Well, he's given them reason."

GOP LOSES MIND IN CFPB DEBATE - The quickest way to get a House Republican to say something totally unself-aware is to ask them what they think of Elizabeth Warren and/or her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They didn't disappoint today, while debating measures to gut it. Financial Services Chair Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) says "we're also for protecting our financial institutions and our economy." Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) thinks "financial institutions are the heart and soul of America." And the Real World's Sean Duffy, who slobbers on bank lobbyists during committee hearings, posited that his measure would give "a voice to the many community banks and banks that don't have a voice."

The Senate passed legislation today by unanimous consent that would allow for a two-year extension of Robert Mueller’s term at the FBI.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Duckling takes its first bath. [youtubes]

FOLEY FROWNER - Next week Obama is speaking at Latino advocacy organization National Council of La Raza and Sen. Chuck Schumer is holding a hearing on immigration reform. Does that mean there's hope for immigration bills? Take it away, Rep. Luis Gutierrez: "I think Sen. Schumer is having a hearing because the president is speaking at National Council of La Raza and they want you to think they're moving on it," he told reporters. "There's no appetite here for legislative vehicles to bring success. ... I'm not going to go out there to tell the public there's a ray of hope out there, the clouds are parting, the sun is coming and pretty soon you might get some justice -- it's just not going to happen."

Cenk Uygur -- pronounced: ah, nevermind -- has parted ways with MSNBC, which he says told him he was too rough on insiders. Cenk’s 6 p.m. slot is now going to Al Sharpton -- (MUUUUCH safer) -- but not before the Young Turk threw a few haymakers. “I think sometimes MSNBC confuses Democrats for progressives,” he emailed HuffPost Hill. “Supporting a perspective makes perfect sense and is exactly what talk show hosts are supposed to do. Supporting a political party blindly should be the opposite of what anyone in the press does...To me the fact that ‘people in Washington’ were made uncomfortable by my show was a good thing and something I should have been encouraged to do rather than be warned about. Sam Donaldson was on The Young Turks many years ago and told the story of how Roone Arledge used to give him a raise every time the Reagan White House complained about him. Those days are long gone."

This town ain't big enough for Chris Hayes and Kate Shaw no more. They're headed to Brooklyn (of course) and saying goodbye tonight at Local 16.

Is it possible for a labor protest to just melt away? - The temperature hit 100 degrees in Chicago today. But picketing workers at the Park Hyatt schvitz-ed a bit more than anticipated after management literally turned up the heat (heat lamps) around them. Instead of a spontaneous bikram yoga session, the world was treated to the perfect metaphor for the relationship between labor and the Obama administration. The family that owns the hotel chain is the Pritzker family. Penny Pritzker, a hotel board member, was President Obama's 2008 national finance chairwoman. [CBS Local News]

Who better than the Puck Buddys to weigh on no TPaw's Miracle on Ice gambit?

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT

Too hot to use actual numbers, and numbers are meaningless, so here it goes. Tonight: You will look at the jacuzzi, and be tempted to take a refreshing dip in it. Tomorrow: You will wonder what you did to deserve this weather, and if we're really being smoted. Deep down, you'll know that yes, you did and yes, you are.

COMFORT FOOD

Sneezybear needs some tea with lots of honey. [collegehumor]

Artist obsessed with her dog writes an opera with an all-canine cast. [vimeo via laughingsquid]

You’ll want this for your next Charlton Heston-themed dance party. [youtubes via boingboing]

Swiss folks set world record for Highest Blob Jump. Next: City of Amsterdam accepts challenge. [youtubes via gizmodo]

Slow-mo wet puppy shake. [youtubes via cuteoverload]

Fake Obama goes to a 7-11. [youtubes via reddit]

TWITTERAMA

@benjysarlin: BREAKING: Debt negotiations still hammering out whether agreement will be "Big F--king Deal" or merely "Big Deal"

@annielowrey: I just thought of the phrase "Recovery Summer" and laughed a little bit.

@EmilyMiller: Utah Sen. Mike Lee cracks, "this is like posing for a family photo in Utah." See photo to get it --> http://twitpic.com/5tkdwf

@HowardMortman: Check out all the charts stacked up on House floor under GW pic awaiting their use (from C-SPAN HD coverage Wed) http://yfrog.com/klv48ocj

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6 p.m.: Bloomberg's B-Gov woos potential customers Wall-Street style, with "An Evening of Politics and Pinot." 17 high-priced escorts from Brooklyn not included. [223 Pennsylvania Ave., SE]

7 p.m. - 9 p.m.: Susan G. Komen launches its junior fundraising circle -- discussion of summer homes and tiny dogs virtually assured. [3251 Prospect St., NW]

7 p.m. - 9 p.m.: If you think that doing shots of rail booze with barely legal staffers sounds like a good time, you're right. It is. Get your fix at George's intern happy hour. [3251 Prospect St., NW]

TOMORROW

Chaos ensues, as members are forced to skip their own fundraisers to stay in DC and haggle over the debt ceiling. If you just paid $5,000 for a weekend with a senator, we imagine you're pretty pissed off right now. (Curse you, Cantor!!)

7:15 a.m.: The 14th annual Sanford Bishop Golf Classic is in Albany, Ga., while Mr. Sanford Bishop himself is in Washington D.C. A spokeswoman confirmed that golf will go on. [319 Osprey Ridge Court]

11:30 a.m.: Wings! Wings! Wings! Lunch in Buffalo for Kristen Gillibrand. At press time, neither chicken wings nor Gillibrand were confirmed. [Buffalo, N.Y.]

6 p.m.: What's worse than the disgusting weather in Washington? The disgusting weather in Houston, Texas, where a DSCC fundraiser is scheduled, with or without headliner Dick Durbin.

July 22-July 24: Robber barons hedge fund managers hit up grand old Newport for a weekend-long fundraiser for Sheldon Whitehouse. The $5,000 price tag excludes fancy hotel, seersucker pants, and at this rate, Sheldon Whitehouse. [One Bellevue Avenue, Newport, R.I.]

July 22-July 24: Only slightly more fun than a day at the OTB: A weekend-long fundraiser in Saratoga, playing the ponies with Joe Crowley.

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