A rainy day in Washington, probably because God was weeping over the return of Congress (Haha! #jokes. Thanks, Michele Bachmann!). Mitt Romney, America's first cyborg presidential candidate, unveiled his economic plan in front of a row of steel lockers (steel, of course, being the primary material found in his roboskeleton). And Congress is taking it upon itself to save the United States Postal Service, which probably means the USPS will be transformed into some kind of ethanol-fueled, abortion-restricting, capital gains tax cut delivery system. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, back after two weeks off. Thanks for waiting! We needed the extra time to commit egregious mail fraud before the post office goes under:
BANK SCOOP - American Banker's Jeff Horwitz: "Many of the country's largest banks received $6 billion in kickbacks from mortgage insurers over the course of a decade, according to a previously undisclosed investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development." [American Banker]
RNC'S RESEARCH DIRECTOR USED TO HATE ON RICK PERRY ALL DAY LONG - Joe Pounder, the Republican National Committee's newest dirt digger, previously served as Kay Bailey Hutchison's spokesman for her primary challenge against Rick Perry. Naturally, there are volumes of on-the-record statements from Pounder that paint Perry in an unflattering manner. A flack for the Democratic-aligned American Bridge Super PAC emerged from his Super LAIR OF OPPO to inundate us with embarrassing Pounder quotes ... like this one: "We guess Rick Perry was for ACORN before his campaign issued last night's statement attacking Kay Bailey Hutchison. Then again, Rick Perry never lets hypocrisy get in his way." Oh shit, ACORN! [Rick Perry, Smiling With ACORN Members]
The Senate (remember them?) is set to vote to end debate on that patent overhaul bill. If the upper chamber can avert a filibuster, a final vote on the bill could come as early as Thursday. The main story is that Harry Reid is allowing amendments to the bill, which basically passed in its (almost) current form back in March. Any changes to the bill would force the bill back to the House for another round of frenzied lobbying. Welcome back, gang! [WSJ]
Everything you ever wanted to know about this patent bill, courtesy of Zach Carter.
A preview of tomorrow's Senate action from Roll Call's John Stanton: "Eager to shift their focus to jobs and the economy, House Republicans on Wednesday will pass an obscure trade bill that is set to become the launching pad for the GOP's larger trade agenda. The bill would reauthorize the General System of Preferences, a set of key -- but little-known -- provisions governing trade with developing nations like Burma through July 2013. According to House and Senate aides on both sides of the aisle, the bill will be used as a vehicle for the Senate to pass the larger Trade Adjustment Assistance act, which would authorize hundreds of millions of dollars in spending on job training and other programs for U.S. workers displaced by free-trade agreements." Wait, why are we displacing workers again? Cuz what this country totally needs is fewer jobs.
MITT ROMNEY UNVEILS ECONOMIC BLUEPRINT, WAVES AROUND A SMARTPHONE - Mitt Romney today stood in front of a row of gym lockers while bragging about his smartphone because
he is a spoiled high school mean girl he was trying to make a point about America's economic prowess in front of a row of patriotically painted lockers. "President Obama's strategy is a pay phone strategy and we're in a smart phone world," the former Massachusetts governor said. Romney unveiled a step-by-step plan for his hypothetical presidency, including a total repeal of health care reform and cuts in the corporate and capital gains tax rates. Shorter Romney: and we're going to California and Texas and New York , and we're going to South Dakota and SMART PHONES ... BLRAAGGHHHH [AP]
FIRE (politically) HOT: Rick Perry will attend the GOP debate tomorrow.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A third of American children raised in middle class households fall out of the middle class as adults, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew says that's about what we should expect if one's class status doesn't confer any special advantage. And it turns out getting divorced can actually be worse for your status than smoking crack. Be on your toes, people! [Pew]
BIPARTISANSHIP - Republicans like the outline of the Obama administration's plan for the long-term jobless: Working for free! [HuffPost]
Is America losing patience with the jobless? Hard to say. Are politicians losing patience with the jobless? Yes, certainly. [McClatchy-Tribune]
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SENATE PANEL TRIES TO SAVE POST OFFICE - The United States Postal Service is an American institution: For centuries it has served as one of the nation's primary conduits for information exchange. Its offices also give our communities' most sweatpants-clad members the chance to spit and yell at a public employee through bullet-proof glass. A national treasure. Too bad it might close. Dave Jamieson: "The postmaster general pleaded with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to pass legislation that would help the postal service right its finances and avoid possible bankruptcy...John Berry, director of the White House's Office of Personnel Management, said the White House plans to release a proposal that aids the postal service as part of a $1.5 trillion deficit-reduction package that President Obama will submit to Congress. Faced with flagging revenues and high workforce costs, the Postal Service is projected to post a $9 billion deficit on the year and could miss a $5.5 billion payment on retiree benefits at the end of this month...As part of those cost reductions, [Postmaster General Patrick] Donahoe said he would like to shed more than 100,000 postal workers who are now covered by no-layoff clauses in union contracts; move new employees from a defined-benefit plan to a lesser defined-contribution plan; and eliminate the service's mandatory annual payment into employee health benefits. The plan would also close around 300 of the postal service's 500 processing centers, shutter thousands of post offices around the country, and eliminate Saturday delivery. Many of those actions would require a mandate from Congress. [HuffPost and AOL Gov]
In case you missed it, Shelley Berkley is in the pocket of Big Kidney
OBAMA PROPOSES MAJOR IRAQ TROOP REDUCTION - The Obama administration will propose a significant troop reduction in Iraq, decreasing the number of troops in that country to anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 by the end of 2011. It should be a confusing time, seeing as how the Dow Jones Industrial Average will also be somewhere in the three to five thousand area. Ha ha! [HuffPost's Josh Hersh]
Alan Grayson, bringing that new, old tone: "I said to [Newt Gingrich], 'you look like you've gained a lot of weight.' Newt stared at me. I said, 'I remember you being much slimmer back in the 1990s. When you were relevant.'" [Daily Kos]
TAMMY BALDWIN ENTERS WISCONSIN SENATE RACE - Wisconsin, the land of dairy and openly-gay female progressive Democratic lawmakers (and yet, not one openly gay wheel of gouda), really lived up to its reputation today when Tammy Baldwin announced her Senate candidacy. Baldwin, the only openly gay woman in Congress, is seen as the most viable Democratic candidate for the seat being vacated by Herb Kohl. "I know that, in this campaign, we'll be up against some powerful special interests. But I've beaten the odds before," Baldwin said in her announcement message (which is an object lesson in what NOT to do with your hands when you speak: holding them in front of you for a bit is poised, ALWAYS holding them up in front of you means you're a brain-thirsty zombie). "All my life, the naysayers have told me that I can't win because I'm a progressive ... because I'm a woman ... even because I'm a lesbian. And I've proven them wrong because I've had rock-solid supporters like you standing with me." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]
HERE'S YOUR 'TAMMY BALDWIN DOG WHISTLE HOMOPHOBIA' DRINKING GAME - Drink: "Imposing her radical agenda," "San Francisco values" and/or "Nancy Pelosi values," any attack ad featuring 70s/80s cliche gay club music, b-roll featuring Baldwin next to well-groomed men, "single," an uptick in an opponent's references to their wife and kids, a talk radio host's awkward joke about father's day (or fathers in general), "Barney Frank."
Speaking of progressive dream candidates, a WBUR poll has Scott Brown's lead over Elizabeth Warren narrowing to 44 to 35 percent with 18 percent undecided. If that sample is narrowed to people who consider Terry Gross to be a guiding light in their lives, Warren surges to a commanding eleventy gablillion percent lead. Hope!
TRENDING (obvi): PEOPLE NOT CRAZY ABOUT THE PRESIDENT - New polls confirm.
THINGS ARE REALLY GETTING BAD IN EUROPE Zach Carter: "This morning, the Swiss central bank said it would refuse to allow the Euro to devalue against the Swiss Franc, effectively boosting the Swiss economy at the expense of the entire Eurozone. Devaluing the Euro, of course, would lighten the debt load on Eurozone countries and still-struggling European banks. Incidentally, devaluing the dollar would work wonders for U.S. exporters, but hey, why act in the nation's economic interest when we could just promote the profits of bailed-out Wall Street banks? U.S. Treasury Bonds were way up on the news, of course, with yields sinking well below 2 percent. Beware bond vigilantes!
Bank of America just canned their head of wealth management. Ugh. This sucker could go down.
JON HUNTSMAN TAKES AIM AT ROMNEY'S JOB RECORD, JUST ENDS UP DISSING THE RED SOX - Which we're more than OK with! The erstwhile Barack Obama employee unveiled a campaign video today contrasting job growth in Utah during his governorship to Massachusetts' employment numbers while Mitt Romney was in charge. The "#1 vs. #47" theme is potent (Utah being the nation's biggest job creator and Massachusetts the 47th during the Huntsman and Romney eras) but the whole ad looks like it was pieced together with scotch tape. It's an awkward mishmash of stock photos, recycled ad footage (that goddamned motocross dude again) and, perhaps most awkwardly, B-roll of dusty baseball gloves. We guess the abandoned baseball diamond (and the incessant use of the word "record") is supposed to be a metaphor for Massachusetts during Mitt Romney's tenure as governor but, really, it just reminds folks in New Hampshire that the Red Sox aren't in first anymore. Womp womp. [CBS News]
SHOCKER: KOCH BROTHER TALKS ABOUT OBAMA IN PARTICULARLY SLIMY WAY - Mother Jones' Brad Friedman obtained audio of one of the brothers Koch spewing bile about the president this past June in front of a room of wealthy conservative donors. The Koch Brothers, if you aren't already aware, are two hyper-conservative billionaire bros who have bankrolled conservative candidates, organized AstroTurf movements and are the recipients, via a secret network of pneumatic tubes, of every single sock you've ever lost in the wash. "We have, uh, Saddam Hussein, this is the mother of all wars we've got over the next 18 months -- the life or death of this country," Charles Koch said at the private gathering in Vail. The MoJo article also details these millionaire reactionary seminars the brothers keep hosting, which are like yearbook camp, but even more evil. [MoJo]
So the Democrats are still going with the whole "Make it in America" thing.
GIULIANI REFUSES TO ENDORSE FORMER SUPPORTER RICK PERRY - Rudy Giuliani, the emcee of 9/11, spoke about his presidential aspirations (or lack thereof) today during an event at the National Press Club. "I would have a hard time getting nominated," he said, referencing his moderation on some issues that are sacrosanct to Republicans. "I'm a realist and I understand how the primary system works." America's Mayor (ret.) also refused to endorse Rick Perry, who backed Giuliani's 2008 presidential bid. "I like Rick very much. I've told him if he wants to disavow his endorsement of me he can (since) I'm such a liberal, crazy, out-of-control Republican," Giuliani said. "I could see myself doing that, sure, but I don't know yet. I don't know enough about what Rick is going to say tomorrow night, and the next two or three nights at the debate." [HuffPost's Andrea Stone]
Joe Biden sat down for an interview with Car and Driver and offered his two cents on that famous Onion article (y'know, the shirtless, Trans Am one): "You think I'd drive a Trans Am? I have been in my bathing suit in my driveway and not only washed my Goodwood-green 1967 Corvette but also simonized it. At least the Onion should have had me washing a Trans Am convertible. I love convertibles." [Car and Driver]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - A kitten in a box.
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: The remnants of Lee are passing through, so expect it to be wet. Tomorrow: Did I mention that Lee is slow-moving? Well, it is. So tomorrow, rain with thundershowers in the afternoon. Thanks, JB!
- Swings are awesome. Swings never get old. If you're an adult and you don't think swings still rock, you're lying to yourself. Here's video of the world's largest swing. [http://huff.to/paXNnY]
- Clearly Madonna wasn't taught as a child to never criticize someone for giving you flowers ... five seconds after you received them ... in front of an open mic ... in a crowded room. We're living in a material world, people, she can be selective. [http://huff.to/opOukt]
- As this subtitled video demonstrates, R2D2 is an insensitive, pissed-off working stiff trying to navigate his way through that crazy galaxy far far away. [http://bit.ly/gTfHU]
- Sweden is developing an invisible tank so ... add that to your list of concerns ("What a beautiful day in the park, sweetheart! This was a great ide....HOLY SHIT INVISIBLE TANK, RUN!!!!!!"). [http://huff.to/oGxjyc]
- Marmite, if you aren't familiar with it, is a highly salty yeast extract that Britons spread on their already horrible food to really kick the horrible up a notch. Here are a humorous set of videos demonstrating how you too can destroy your food with Marmite. [http://huff.to/nKjg64]
- Speaking of the Brits, the entire run of the British "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" is now available online for free. [http://huff.to/qgM9Qn]
- Add in some Hans Zimmer-style orchestral accompaniment and even the most mundane frog can seem pretty epic. [http://huff.to/qja1Du]
- "I am grateful -- gratefuler than ever before --t that you were born" -- An 1888 love note from Mark Twain to his wife. [http://huff.to/nVGQMS]
@pourmecoffee: Tomorrow is Labor Day, when we briefly pause from demonizing unions to enjoy mattress sales in their honor.
@samsteinhp: i think the real question heading into Romney's speech is: will he use power point?
@meredithshiner: I'm sorry, but does Shelley Berkley's husband look a little like Buster Bluth to you? bit.ly/mQnvTO
6:30 pm: David Vitter is still in Congress -- have we mentioned how weird that is lately? He tries to keep the ongoing joke that is his Senate job in tact with a fundraiser hosted by insurance interests. [Bobby Van's Grill, 1201 New York Ave NW 809 15th Street NW]
8:30 pm: Bob Corker is the guest of honor at a campaign function at Charlie Palmer Steak. Corker is a small guy, so he'll probably be happy to share his steak. It'll also be 8:30 in the morning, so maybe there won't be any steak at all. We don't know. [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW]
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: If you can stop giggling immaturely at the name of Mike Quigley's "Semi-Annual Italian Beef Reception" then why don't you demonstrate your maturity in front of the good congressman? [Erickson & Co. Townhouse, 38 Ivy Street SE]
6:30 pm: Kenny Marchant attends a fundraiser at Trattoria Alberto. Maybe lawmakers are heeding our advice and skipping Carmine's (it's way overrated). Rep. Sam Johnson is slated to make an appearance. [Trattoria Alberto of Capitol Hill, 506 8th Street SE]
7:00 pm: We've always thought that the Amalfi Coast is reminiscent of Central Michigan. Join Dave Camp as he raises funds for his reelection campaign at an Italian restaurant. [Fiola Ristoranta, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW]
7:05 pm: Xavier Becerra takes a break from the ongoing contest between two mediocre teams in Congress to enjoy a baseball game between two mediocre Major League teams (Dodgers and Nats). [Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol Street SE]
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