HUFFPOST HILL - Congress Turns The Sky Into Milton Friedman's Playground

08/02/2011 05:35 pm ET | Updated Oct 02, 2011
  • Eliot Nelson Eliot Nelson is a politics reporter and editor in the Huffington Post's D.C.bue=reau

The Washington Post is cutting costs by handing over its editorial duties, we think, to sophomore creative writing majors at Bennington College. The White House LITERALLY walked back Joe Biden's statement that Republicans are acting like terrorists. And rather than stay in town and end a partial FAA shutdown, Congress is letting the invisible hand of the market land your plane (don't worry: it has a good, firm grip). This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, coming at you from a Trapezoid of Iniquity:

wapo/ published this/ curious piece of local reporting/ sundown

NOW IS THE TIME TO TAMPER WITH, OR DISABLE, YOUR PLANE'S BATHROOM SMOKE DETECTOR: CONGRESS POSTPONES FAA VOTE - Congress' first act after averting a nationwide credit default was -- go figure -- to put off a vote on funding a federal agency. The Federal Aviation Administration will remain partially shut down through September when lawmakers will again try to resolve their differences over its funding. Either because congresspeople didn't want to stay in town, or Harry Reid REALLY hates it when people tell him to turn off his iPod during takeoff and landing. Or, maybe, because half the members of Congress have Taylor Swift tickets (see below). Don't get comfortable, people that expect the government to pay for things! AP: "House Republicans had demanded the $16.5 million in subsidy cuts as part of a bill to continue the FAA's operating authority. Senate Democrats repeatedly tried and failed to pass their own bill without the cuts. The FAA's operating authority expired 11 days ago, as well as the authority of airlines to collect about $30 million a day in ticket taxes. If allowed to continue until Congress returns to work next month, the cost in lost revenue will be an estimated $1.2 billion." [AP, via a more level-headed WaPo]

The Dow fell 266 points today. That sucks.

DEBT CEILING DEAL CLEARS CONGRESS, SIGNED BY THE PRESIDENT: THIS BULLSHIT IS OVER FOR NOW - That is until November when the SUPER COMMITTEE (Justice League?) emerges from its meeting room (parsimoniously-furnished ice lair?) and insists that your grandma really won't notice the difference between her osteoporosis medicine and a placebo. The upper chamber overwhelmingly voted to approve the debt ceiling deal passed by the House last night, 74 - 26. Twenty-eight Republicans voted for the measure and the chamber's two independents, Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, voted "no" and "aye," respectively. The White House announced shortly thereafter that President Obama had signed the bill. We're guessing the president had the legislation signed by an autopen in international waters, just to spite everyone. [HuffPost's Mike McAullif and Elise Foley]

Before the vote, Mitch McConnell lauded the fact that lawmakers created an "entire new template" for raising the debt ceiling. So if you got lucky after your drunkenly ironic "Debt Default Party" at Cap Lounge, you'll get to throw another one next year ... you dog.

Roll Call's David Drucker and Humberto Sanchez on the Dems' HEY, LOOK OVER THERE upcoming strategy: "Congressional leaders moved quickly Tuesday to distance themselves from the debt fight and pivot to jobs, offering a preview of the message Members carried home as they departed Washington for the summer recess. House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle vowed that Congress would return in September focused solely on job creation and economic growth, and armed their Members with talking points and research that put a positive spin on compromise legislation to raise the debt ceiling."

Stay cool, Bill Nelson!

IS OUR DEBT DEAL MAKING OUR KIDS MORE DUMBER? - The debt deal included well-documented reshuffling of the Pell Grant program, which helps ensure that kids who can properly pronounce "Sagaponack" aren't the only ones who can go to college. However our nation's public school students will likely take a hit, also. "Because of the deal, there's not going to be any great influx of federal money coming in," Kristen Amundson, communications director for Education Sector, a think tank, told HuffPost. "It's going to be a year of austerity." Joy Resmovits: "More than 90 percent of education spending in the U.S. comes from state and district-level funding, which already faces cuts nearly across the board. The federal government funds the rest, dispersing most of its money through Title I, a large formula program devoted to improving academic achievement for disadvantaged students; and IDEA, which pays for school districts' disability services." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have introduced a bill banning hiring discrimination against the unemployed. The same bill was introduced in the House earlier this year in response to news reports about businesses requiring that job applicants be "currently employed." Gillibrand said in a statement, "Losing your job through no fault of your own should never disqualify you from finding a new job." Is DDD mistaken or is something about this profoundly depressing?

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OUR GLOBAL ECONOMIC STANDING WEAKENED, LAWMAKERS FLOCK TO TAYLOR SWIFT CONCERT - But she wears short skirts, I wear Brooks Brothers Madison Three-Button 1818 suits/She's cheer captain and I'm on the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. Ha ha, get it? So hours after Congress dangled America from the economic insolvency balcony as if it were Suge Knight coercing Vanilla Ice into signing an unfavorable contract, a number of lawmakers are convening tonight and tomorrow for Taylor Swift's two concerts at the Verizon Center. John Thune, Jo Bonner, Kay Granger, Michael Grimm, Tom Price and Heath Shuler are all scheduled to attend the show. Paul Broun will be at tomorrow's concert. Nothing cleanses the palette of political posturing and bickering quite like the angsty, lyrical stylings of a teenager, no?

Vanilla Ice remains at large.

The White House is walking back Joe Biden's assertion that Tea Party Republicans have been acting like "terrorists." Doesn't everyone know that vice presidents should only insist upon the illegal rendition of terrorists and not actually compare people to them?

BUDGET CUTS WEAKENING LOCAL COURTS - Hey, remember the judicial branch??? If branches of government were team sports, it'd be hockey. Amanda Terkel reports that our nation's ongoing obsession with money hoarding has led to pronounced shortcomings in our courts. Basically, voir dire will have to be downgraded from the tonier French to a more cost-efficient "See Hear" and lady justice will have to purchase her own blindfolds ... second-hand, or something like that. "The deep budget cuts to judicial funding, coupled with an uptick in filings, are causing significant delays at the state level...many court advocates bristle that the third branch of government is being treated as nothing more than a state agency begging for scraps. Courts are trying to cut costs even in the smallest ways. In Georgia, the state Supreme Court's chief justice had to ask research database company LexisNexis for pens and pencils to give to her law clerks. Elsewhere, plaintiffs and defendants have to bring their own paper. Compounding the problem is the fact that these cuts are coming as the need for access to the courts is increasing, with Americans looking for solutions to the foreclosure crisis and employment disputes arising from the economic recession." [HuffPost]

LAWMAKER APOLOGIZES FOR INSANELY RACIST COMMENT - We were so caught up in the sensation of debt vertigo yesterday that we neglected to mention that Doug Lamborn called the president of the United States, a successful family man another human being a "tar baby." The comment was made on a call-in radio show in his home state of Colorado. The phrase "Tar Baby" originated in the Uncle Remus stories and has been historically used as a derogatory term for African Americans. "Even if some people say, 'Well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that,' they will hold the President responsible," Lamborn said. "Now, I don't even want to have to be associated with him. It's like touching a tar baby and you get it, you're stuck, and you're a part of the problem now and you can't get away." It's not quite "Jim Clyburn being faxed drawings of nooses" on the spectrum of racial hostility in the political arena. We'll call it "Macaca-Plus." Thanks, entrenched racial ignorance! [HuffPost]

Steve King is very concerned about birth control and the moral hazard it creates for ladies' increasingly infertile wombs: "We have people that are single, we have people that are past reproductive age, we have priests that are celibate. All of them, paying insurance premiums that cover contraceptives so that somebody else doesn't have to pay the full fare of that? And they've called it preventative medicine. Preventative medicine. Well if you applied that preventative medicine universally what you end up with is you've prevented a generation." [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

A Quinnipiac survey of Pennsylvania voters finds them generally displeased with President Obama. Fifty-two percent of respondents say the president shouldn't be reelected while only 42 percent think he has earned the right for another go around. Obama still leads most of the Republican field, but trails Mitt Romney 44 percent to 42 percent in the Keystone State. This can only end with countless hours of b-roll of Romney awkwardly ordering cheesesteaks from every single walk-up counter in the state. Awesome? [Quinnipiac]

DOJ SUES ALABAMA OVER QUINTESSENTIALLY ALABAMAN LAW - The law in question is the state's draconian immigration bill signed by Governor Robert Bentley in June. The measure goes further than Arizona's controversial SB 1070 and is viewed by many as the harshest in the nation. The law prohibits individuals from transporting (or in anyway "concealing") undocumented immigrants, requires schools to check the citizenship status of students and, generally speaking, requires non-Hispanic citizens to scream "COOTIES!" every time they find themselves in the presence a caramel-skinned individual or see a tilde on a government form. "To put it in terms we relate to here in Alabama, you can only have one quarterback in a football game. In immigration, the federal government is the quarterback," U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance told The Birmingham News, which was a polite way of not calling the bill an abomination [Politico]



forsooth, it's dan zak
do you think you're a poet?
well, you are noet.

Thanks, Brad!

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Thunderstorms popping up late this afternoon and into the evening. Tomorrow: Low 90s, quite humid, as the storms are not done with us yet. Thanks, JB!


- "Havoc on the Hill" summarizes the debt ceiling debacle with some funny cartoon bubble qutoes. []

- Matt Damon, in one of those moments that remind you that the Borne Identity star wrote Good Will Hunting, explained why people choose relatively low-paying careers like teaching. []

- A photographer's series of action shots of wet dogs shaking themselves dry. []

- "Adorable," "stop-motion," and "Brooklyn." Sorry. Here it is. []

- The plans for what will be the talleset building in the world have been released. It's a kilometer high. []

- Those Taiwanese news animators tackled the trailer >i>The Dark Knight Rises... for some reason. []

- The worst stock photos used to describe computer hacking. []

- "Waldo finds himself." []


@dceiver: "The Persecution and Assassination of the Debt Ceiling as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of DC Under the Direction of Sen. de Sade."

@BenjySarlin: Late night. Empty newsroom. Editor gone. I'll just publish this. Myself. No one. Will notice.

@wexler: Now on CNN: Willie Nelson weighing in on the debt ceiling debate, by phone from Missoula, Montana



5:30 pm: Can you think of anything funnier than Scott Brown leading a museum tour ("Notice the, uh, interplay of light and, uh, shadow")? Join the Bay State lawmaker for a tour of DC's Museum of Crime and Punishment [National Museum of Crime and Punishment, 575 7th Street NW].

6:30 pm: Things members of Congress love: speechifying, legislative gridlock, power ties and -- apparently -- Taylor Swift. A boatload of lawmakers will be on hand for the young country/pop star's DC concert. John Thune, Jo Bonner, Kay Granger, Michael Grimm, Tom Price and Heath Shuler all have fundraiser at the show [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].

6:30 pm: Ben Quayle, scion of one of our nation's most milquetoast families, chows down at a fundraiser held at one of our nation's most overrated Italian restaurants [Carmine's, 425 7th Street, NW].

7:00 pm: When we think of Steve Israel, the we immediately think of giant globs of orange chicken. Right? The DCCC chair and New York lawmaker hosts his "Second Annual Chinese Food and Politics Dinner" [Hunan Dynasty, 215 Pennsylvania Ave SE].


8:30 am - 9:30 am: Joseph Crowley, Richard Neal, Jim Himes and John Carney put in some time on behalf of the DCCC at a "Business Council Breakfast." Just who the Democratic base wants their lawmakers to be meeting with the week of the debt ceiling deal/vote [Democratic National Headquarters - 430 South Capitol Street SE].

5:00 pm: Jim DeMint raises funds for his Senate Conservatives Fund organization with a "Summer in the City" function. And where will Senator DeMint and his donors be enjoying the hot and sticky delights of Washington, D.C. in the summertime? Why at the Strategic Healthcare Townhouse, of course! [Strategic Healthcare Townhouse - 230 Second Street SE].

7:00 pm: While the rest of his country pop-inclined colleagues will be enjoying Taylor Swift on her first night in DC, Paul Broun takes his supporters to the second show. You get less bang for your buck when John Thune ISN'T in the luxury box next door [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW].

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