HUFFPOST HILL - Jeff Sessions' Zany Macroeconomic Journey

09/07/2011 06:02 pm ET | Updated Nov 07, 2011
  • Eliot Nelson Eliot Nelson is a politics reporter and editor in the Huffington Post's D.C.bue=reau

Jeff Sessions figures out things in the same convoluted, accidental manner that Jeff Goldblum figures out murderous plots by aliens and/or dinosaurs. Rep. Joe "You Lie!" Wilson doesn't think the president can put together a coherent economic policy but suspects he can summon the wind and the rain. And unless Tom Selleck mounts a successful, last-minute presidential campaign, the American Mustache Institute is going to be left wanting this cycle.This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, September 7th, 2011:

JEFF SESSIONS STUMBLES INTO UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS - One of the proposals said to be included in tomorrow night's jobs speech is a payroll tax cut, a policy that some Republicans are meh about. They've already proposed tax break for corporations, and corporations are people, so therefore people are only a fraction of people and, uh, aren't worth the effort. Anyway, HuffPost Hill asked Sen. Jeff Sessions how it was that his party could advocate a position that would lead to a tax hike for millions. "We'd like to be able to keep the withholding low, but you don't pay it if you're not working, and so we've got a lot of people not working." Sure, not the smartest point in the world, but greenies will be pleased to learn that the light bulb that suddenly lit above Sessions' head was appropriately low wattage.

HuffPost Hill surveyed 10 Senate Republicans in the Capitol today and only two -- John McCain and Scott Brown -- said they'd support an extension of the payroll tax cut. Both said that such an extension, however, should apply to employers as well as workers. The rest said they were either undecided on extending the tax cut, or opposed the idea.

THERE IS A GOP DEBATE TONIGHT - The general consensus is that Rick Perry will be the victim of a MASSIVE Republican pile-on, the likes of which haven't been seen since the Capitol Hill Club discontinued its famed early-morning pajama parties. Also, everyone will be hating on tomorrow's job speech. Also, Rick Santorum will be there, for some reason. Also, keep an eye out for any stolen glances and/or under-table finger-grazing between co-hosts Brian Williams and John Harris. Also, this will greatly influence the Republican primary, until it doesn't anymore. Also, TBS will be airing Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail at the same time in case you're looking for something different, but equally inane, to watch. [HuffPost Politics will liveblog]

REID WANTS DISASTER AID WITH NO MUMBO JUMBO - Harry Reid is going to push a disaster aid bill with no requirements that its $6 billion cost be offset. "Some of my Republican colleagues are trying to -- I was going to say something that was vulgar and I'm not going to do that," Reid said, "are trying to cater to the Tea Party by holding up relief efforts." Eric Cantor, who's been getting beat up for wanting to offset disaster aid after a bunch of disasters smacked the east coast, called the request "unprecedented" but didn't say no: "I appreciate Leader Reid's concern for the people of my district and those facing these terrible disasters across the country, and hope we can work quickly and responsibly to provide any funding needed immediately, as well as to navigate through the appropriations process for the coming year." [TPM]

BOOM TIMES FOR POLITICAL CONSULTANTS - From Roll Call's Eliza Newlin Carney: "Job growth is flat and Republicans argue that Obama is doing nothing to help. But one industry is thriving and Obama can take a lot of credit: political consulting. With Obama likely to raise and spend close to $1 billion for his re-election campaign and the Supreme Court's Citizen's United ruling already unleashing hundreds of millions more in previously restricted dollars, the campaign business is booming. Some estimates are that candidates and issue groups will spend as much as $5 billion to $7 billion in this election cycle, with direct mail firms, ad buyers, pollsters, producers and media companies pocketing a huge share of that dough."

Tonight in The Hill: "Debbie Siegelbaum on how Rep. John Conyers Jr. wants President Obama to back his reelection bid as the Michigan Democrat faces what could be his most competitive race in decades."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER: IT'S RAINING OUT, PERFECT WEATHER TO READ ABOUT UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE, YES? - So just how does the other half live these days? In squalor? In government-funded welfare queen abundance? In parents' basements? In employment lines? On couches in front of TVs, depressed and arm-deep in bags of Cheetos? HuffPost's first ebook, A People's History of the Great Recession helps answer this question. It's written by HuffPost Hill's very own Arthur Delaney and will make you sad, but in the good, informative kind of way. [A People's History of the Great Recession]

UPSIDE DOWNER - Before landing a full-time job that started last week, Ali Braswell didn't think she could make September's rent. She'd started scoping out storage options for her stuff and shelters where she could bring her two young children. "I was running on fumes. I really did not know what I was going to do," said Braswell, who is 40 and lives in Chapel Hill, N.C. "I believed the Lord was going to make something happen. If we were going to go into a shelter then I was going to make the best." Braswell told HuffPost she got hired last month to do human resources and customer service work for a global IT company with a location in nearby Pittsboro. She's making less money than she used to, but she said she feels "blessed." She'd been out of work for longer than two years after losing her job as a payroll coordinator halfway through 2009. [HuffPost]

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DETAILS OF JOBS ADDRESS BEGIN TO EMERGE - David Nakamura: "According to sources with knowledge of White House deliberations, Obama's plan may consist of spending on programs to extend aid to state and local governments to retain teachers and rehabilitate school buildings, as well as put construction crews to work retrofitting commercial buildings to make them more environmentally friendly. There will also be a series of tax cuts, including an extension of a payroll tax cut enacted in January that has put an average of $1,000 into people's paychecks, and tax incentives for companies that hire unemployed workers. The White House also will propose new aid for the the long-term unemployed. Mortgage relief for struggling homeowners, through a refinancing option that could pump billions of dollars into the economy, is also being considered, according to administration officials and others familiar with the deliberations. The total package is likely to cost more than $200 billion, and an Associated Press report Wednesday put the price tag at $300 billion. White House aides declined to confirm that number." [WaPo]

GOP WON'T GIVE RESPONSE TO OBAMA'S JOB SPEECH - Republicans in Congress, continuing their just-barely-enough approach to President Obama's job speech tomorrow night, will not offer an official televised rebuttal to the address. Between this and the growing number of Republicans who are straight up skipping the speech, the GOP couldn't do much more do express their apathy, short of sending a crash test dummy to sit in Kevin McCarthy's place. In response to the non-response, Nancy Pelosi said that the decision, "speak[s] volumes about their lack of commitment to creating jobs." She went on to say that "The Republicans' refusal to respond to the president's proposal on jobs is not only disrespectful to him, but to the American people." Forget that, think about the technicians who could be earning some overtime by working a Republican response! Aren't we trying to stimulate this economy? [Fox News]

HuffPost Hill asked Roy Blunt if he'd back Obama's tax credits for new hires. "The business tax credits? Now how's that different than the corporate jet industry? You should ask him that. Zing

@DavidVitter: Family & friends coming over for #Saints game tomorrow. On to recovery-- and SuperBowl! #whodat #jobs

YAY! ANOTHER GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN AVERTED FOR NOW...POSSIBLY - So the government might shut down again. Bet you forgot about that, didn't you? Shutdowns were all the obstructionist rage before government defaults swooped onto the scene and made shutdowns passe, like skinny jeans trumping trucker hats. Eric Cantor introduced a continuing resolution to the House calendar that will fund the government past the current September 30th deadline. The bill will be voted on the week of September 19th. Late action by Congress in passing the 12 necessary appropriation bills necessitated the delay, which Cantor says will last through "late fall." [HuffPost's Elise Foley]

Jay Carney: "It's hard if you don't work more than two days a week, I understand that...That was a joke."

WHITE HOUSE WON'T INSTITUTE REGULATION FREEZE - Despite earlier reports, the White House says it won't introduce a temporary freeze on all non-financial industry and healthcare-related economic regulations. The Times had first published reports this morning that the administration was considering the moratorium as part of the series of job-related initiatives it will unveil during the president's speech tomorrow. "Those reports are false," White House flack Clark Stevens said in a statement. "The Administration has a strong record of implementing smart, sensible steps that protect consumers, public health, and the environment...[President Obama] has also made clear that he will not accept the false choice of either having prosperity or clean air, clean water, and safe food." Of course, proposals to undermine your party's principles tend not to be received well by other members of the party. Maybe now that this scurrilous rumor is out of the way, the White House can get back to brainstorming ways of combating union thuggery and making women feel guilty for their reproductive choices. We're not sure if that's a joke. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

POSEIDON LIES: @CongJoeWilson: Sitting on airplane during delay. Is President Obama creating bad weather to keep us conservatives out of Washington? ... Ok. I know he can't control the weather, but if he keeps growing the scope of govt, perhaps he will soon.

The U.S. had dropped to the fifth most competitive country in the world, according to a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum. The U.S., which fell from fourth to fifth, now ranks behind Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden and Finland, in that order. Luckily, these are all countries we can easily bomb. Also, at what point will the health of the U.S. economy be entirely subject to the whims of any old list maker/rating agency? Will people start shorting T-bills the moment OK! Magazine publishes a list of Kim Kardashian's ten biggest fashion hits and misses? Because they totally should.[AP]

SUPER COMMITTEE CHAIRS SHOULD MAYBE GET SOME COFFEE, OR SOMETHING - Russell Berman reported an interesting tidbit last night, noting that the Republican and Democratic co-chairs of the Super Congress/Committee/Cabal/Book Club haven't actually met. This isn't terribly surprising, not only because Patty Murray and Jeb Hensarling are from different parties and work in different chambers, but because the two couldn't embody the highly disparate cultures of Washington State and Texas any more if Murray named her children Venti and Trenta and Hensarling were a Shiner Bock-fueled mechanical bull situated on the 30th floor of an awkwardly zoned Houston office building smack-dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Seriously, do you expect these two to have a standing dinner date each week? "They're both very bright people. They're both very partisan people. We'll see who wins," Alan Simpson told the publication. No kidding. [The Hill]

RICK PERRY WORRYING SOME REPUBLICAN ACTIVISTS - Jon Ward canvased a number of influential Republican donors and operatives and found that quite a few of them are still worried about Rick "Never Met A Small Woodland Creature He Didn't Want To Waste With A Laser-Guided Pistol" Perry's electability. "It's not going to stay," South Carolina GOP committee member Glenn McCall said of Perry's lead in the polls "It's too early." He then added that "The folks I talk to, they're concerned." A prominent Republican donor/activist in the Northeast added that reporters need to stick some things up Perry's butt before he can properly assess his electability. "I have my doubts that Perry can beat Obama in a head-to-head," Northeast donor/activist said, adding that Perry has yet to be administered his "media proctology exam." We'll get our latax gloves. [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby elephant irritates its mother

Aaron Perlut, chairman of the American Mustache Association, on John Bolton's decision not to run for president: "Bolton's candidacy would have been a boost to the Mustached American community without question. The last Mustached American President of the United States was William Howard Taft. So indeed, it's been a long time coming and there has been reticence amongst our people to take that leap. That being said, we are hopeful Michelle Bachmann bleached upper lip gets some attention." [Yahoo News]

Jeremy Scahill has another Somalia blockbuster in The Nation, uncovering the U.S. role in creating what we now claim is our enemy. No doubt Congress is preparing hearings as we speak.


- Forgive us for just now telling you about "Fuck Yeah Headlines" which humorously illustrates newspaper headlines. []

- A friendly reminder that the ill-fated "Home Movies" UPN/Adult Swim series once made a Franz Kafka rock opera. []

- Steampunk octopus is terrifying/clearly would've made Wild Wild West exponentially better. []

- A supercut of characters in movies dramatically yelling "SILENCE!!!" []

- #TheWayWeLiveNow: An artist in Berkeley (of course) converted a dumpster into his one-room apartment. []

- A rap ... about Photoshopping cats. []

- Famous brand logos made out of tiny competitor logos. []

- "Tiny camera films tiny trains" really lives up to its expectations. []


@jasoncherkis: Grocery stores now sell flat marshmallows specifically made for s'mores. Obama might wanna mention such American innovation in jobs speech.

@HuffPostMedia: In case it gets taken down, this was actually published by Forbes magazine today (h/t @mlcalderone)

@pourmecoffee: GOP debate is at Reagan Library, which features a Trickle-Down Fountain where water never reaches the lower level.



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]


8:00 am: You could fork over thousands of dollars to listen to Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer ramble on about strategy at a DSCC breakfast roundtable fundraiser. Or you could go to see what kind of unholy cottage cheese concoction Chuck "Schumwich" Schumer orders for breakfast. [Hyatt Regency Washington, 400 New Jersey Ave NW]

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Laura Richardson is the (obvious) beneficiary of a "Cook Out for Laura Richardson" fundraiser at the Strategic Health care Townhouse. Seeing as how its a gastrocentric gathering at the Strategic Healthcare Townhouse, you'd think they'll choose their food carefully. [Strategic Healthcare Townhouse - 230 Second Street SE]

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Michael McCaul holds his "5th Annual BBQ, Blue Bell and Bock Event." If you're a Texas apologist, like HuffPost Hil is, those three things likely comprise a significant portion of your defense strategy. [Top of the Hill, 319 Pennsylvannia Ave SE]

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Rep. Alcee Hastings celebrates his 75th birthday in -- yes, we'll say it -- style with a swanky (yes, we said it again) campaign function. Happy birthday, congressman! At 75, you're the 8th youngest person there! Huzzah! [ Rupli Townhouse - 446 New Jersey Ave SE]

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