HUFFPOST HILL - K Street Takes On K Street, Someone Wins

12/13/2011 05:39 pm ET | Updated Feb 12, 2012

Ron Johnson likes to put down poor people by recalling his early, hardscrabble years as a lowly college graduate married to the daughter of a wildly successful businessman. Donald Trump something something something something ***NEXT***. And GOP activists are worried that Newt Gingrich could hurt downballot candidates, a concern that Gingrich will no doubt take seriously given his well-recorded history of caring about other people. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, December 13th, 2011:

ROY BLUNT WINS VICE-CONFERENCE CHAIR ELECTION, LITTLE GUY LOSES (HE WOULD HAVE LOST, EITHER WAY) - Some people collect stamps, others play sports. Roy Blunt likes to languish for years in the lower top tier of his party's leadership. The Missouri lawmaker's inevitable rise through Senate leadership took its first significant step forward on Tuesday, when he surprised some observers by besting Tea Party-backed Ron Johnson for the vice conference chair leadership spot. Blunt's victory infuriated elements of the GOP base. "Roy Blunt Wins: Senate GOP Shuns Tea Party, Embraces K Street," headlined Erick Erickson at Of course, it's not quite that simple: Ron Johnson's chief of staff, Don Kent, was a lobbyist before coming to work for Johnson.

GOP INSIDERS WORRIED ABOUT GETTING GINGRICH STENCH ON THEIR HOUSE CANDIDATES - Roll Call: "Top Republican strategists are increasingly worried that a 2012 ticket led by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) -- instead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- could hurt the party downballot, especially in the Northeast. The region is expected to be a top battleground in the fight for control of Congress. Although redistricting has shifted many lines, in 2010 Republicans won 61 House districts carried by Barack Obama in 2008. Last year the GOP picked up 14 seats across four states: New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Many of those freshmen will have tough races next year in those Democratic-leaning states and need help from the top of their ticket." [Roll Call]

DOD MIGHT HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE - "A Republican plan to spare the Pentagon roughly $500 billion in spending cuts faces rough passage with no guarantee the department could avoid the spending reduction, two defense analysts say. Sens. Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman and John Kyl will roll out a 'substitute' sequestration plan this week. Formal legislation will likely hit the Hill sometime in January, when Congress returns from the Christmas break, Ayotte said today. The freshman senator was light on details but she was clear the legislation would shift the $500 billion in spending cuts from the Pentagon's budget and move them into other agencies budgets. Tough times demand tough decisions, Graham told reporters at the same event, but the times demand that "the first check you write should be for defense." [AOL Defense]

SECRET GROUP SLAMS SECRET DONATIONS - Karl Rove's anti-Elizabeth Warren Super PAC has a confusing charge it wants to make. Last week, it told Massachusetts voters that Warren was in bed with Wall Street. (Not a typo.) Now, the PAC that accepts unlimited secret contributions from Wall Street is demanding she return all money from the Democratic senate committee because it takes Wall Street cash. But if Warren's Wall Street's biggest booster, shouldn't she gladly take their money? Rove's demands, which are creepily numbered: "1. Return any and all funds she has received from the Wall Street-backed DSCC; 2. Refuse to accept any future DSCC contributions, coordinated expenditures or ads on her behalf; and 3. Immediately call on the DSCC to stop using her name for fundraising purposes."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Susan Lundberg of Palm Springs, Calif. said she lost her waitress job one year ago. Now she's worried that her unemployment benefits will run out before she finds a job. She said she'd worked at the same restaurant for longer than a decade. She's felt that her age, 60, has been a major obstacle to finding new work. Having used up her 26 weeks of state benefits halfway through this year, Lundberg recently advanced to the second "tier" of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which offers up to 14 weeks of checks. It's unclear how Lundberg would be affected under the Republican plan, which would eliminate the second and fourth tiers of EUC and phase out the 20-week "Extended Benefits" program halfway through next year. Lundberg said she did not like the way things like unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut got rolled up in a bill with the Keystone pipeline. "If they really thought it was a serious issue they wouldn't put in all this other stuff. They should vote on it separately. It just makes things not happen when you put all these things in the bundle." As for drug testing, Lundberg said: "I think they should drug test Congress. They've been acting a little weird."

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WHITE HOUSE THREATENS VETO OF GOP PAYROLL TAX MEASURE - Mike McAuliff: "The White House issued an unequivocal threat to veto the House Republican bill to extend the payroll tax cut Tuesday, condemning it as a political gambit larded with controversial, unrelated provisions. 'With only days left before taxes go up for 160 million hardworking Americans, H.R. 3630 plays politics at the expense of middle-class families,' the White House said in a Statement of Administration Policy, arguing that the bill breaks with the bargain on spending that leaders cut just last summer during the bitter debate over the debt limit...The bill, cobbled together by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), is paid for in part by freezing the pay of federal workers and cutting their retirement benefits. The GOP bill also rejects the Democratic model of hiking taxes on millionaires, while raising some $31 billion by means testing Medicare recipients, which will raise costs for individuals earning as little as $85,000 a year." [HuffPost]

OBAMA CAMPAIGN SETS FIVE TARGET ELECTORAL MAPS - Sam Stein: "At a briefing with reporters on Tuesday morning, top officials in the Obama campaign outlined five distinct paths that they can pursue to help the president win reelection...the campaign could try to follow what Axelrod and Messina are calling the 'West Path.' If Obama wins Colorado (and its nine electoral votes), New Mexico (five) and Nevada (six) and adds them to Kerry's 246 electoral votes, he would have 266. Add in the six electoral votes from Iowa, where Obama has been leading in the polls (but Republicans have been making voter registration gains), and he'd have 272...The second path for Obama to pursue is the "Florida Path," which would mean winning the Sunshine state and its 29 electoral votes. That total added to Kerry's 246 electoral votes would equal 275...The third path is the "South Path," which involves winning North Carolina (15) and Virginia (13) to Kerry's total to reach 274. The fourth path is the "Midwest Path" which involves adding Ohio (and its 18 electoral votes) and Iowa (with its six) to Kerry's total to get to 270 on the nose. Finally, there is the "expansion path," which has the president losing critical states but still winning the election by bringing others in the fold. Under this scenario, the reelection campaign doesn't hold on to Kerry's wins in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, losing their 20 and four electoral votes respectively. He also fails to win Ohio and Florida, both of which he won in 2008. But by re-winning Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and adding Arizona (with its 11 votes), a perhaps more likely proposition than it was in 2008 when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was running, Obama gets to 272." [HuffPost]

David Axelrod on Newt Gingrich's striking similarity to a simian's ass: "I told my colleagues yesterday a bit of homespun wisdom I got from an alderman in Chicago some years ago when one of his colleagues wanted to run for higher office and he was really dubious. He said, ‘just remember the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt.' So, you know, the Speaker is very high on the pole right now and we'll see how people like the view." Remember that website/book that compared pictures of President Bush (43) with monkeys? This one is way funnier.[TPM]

RICK PERRY GETS HIS MICHAEL BEY ON - The once (and future? Ehhh??) frontrunner's latest ad draws on the high-production, Steadicam-allergic ads that Tim Pawlenty ran when he was still in the race (and those ads really made the difference in that landmark campaign). With that said, it's actually a pretty good spot, and makes a compelling case that Perry has some momentum going. It might even make some people forget about that other ad where Perry brushes the gay cooties off of himself and accuses President Obama of wanting to burn bibles or what not. The spot even features old debate footage of President Obama spliced in to make it look like PERRY IS SHOWING THE PRESIDENT WHAT'S WHAT. Woah. [YouTube]

DONALD TRUMP PULLS OUT OF WHAT AMOUNTED TO A TELEVISED CONVERSATION WITH NEWT GINGRICH AND RICK SANTORUM - Oh darn. We're not going to reprint the write up because it's just that stupid, but if you're really interested, here's the link.

@Chris_Moody: Donald Trump didn't like my story. He just sent me this:

UH-OH - @ppppolls: Newt's net favorability in Iowa is down 19 points in the last week

A new poll indicates that Marco Rubio is not the GOP's flashing electoral Super Mario invincibility star: "While 24 percent of Hispanic voters surveyed said they would be more likely to vote Republican if Rubio appeared on the ballot, that was nearly canceled out by the 21 percent who told pollsters they would be less likely to vote Republican if the Cuban-American senator is the party's vice presidential nominee, according to the Latino Decisions poll Monday." [Politico]

RON JOHNSON IS ALL ABOUT THE NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT RECENTLY - Whether it's the rebuke from his colleagues in the Republican conference today or his decision to do this last week: "In a spirited exchange with some unemployed constituents and activists last week, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) defended the concept of a rock-bottom minimum wage, arguing that 'when you're a good worker, you don't stay at minimum wage for long.' He added, 'You can trust me on that.' Many of the constituents scoffed audibly at the remark, according to a video uploaded by The Uptake. (The exchange occurs at the 7:30 mark in the video) The citizen-journalism site says the meeting took place on Dec. 7 at Johnson's Washington office." [HuffPost's Dave Jamieson]

WE MUST FIND A WAY TO HARNESS THE POWER OF THE REVOLVING DOOR TO GENERATE ELECTRICITY, MAYBE HYDROELECTRICALLY...OR SOMETHING - Roll Call: "House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer announced today that Terry Lierman, his chief of staff since 2007, is leaving the office Dec. 31 and heading to the private sector. Hoyer's floor director, Alexis Covey-Brandt, will take over as his top aide...Lierman, whom Roll Call named one of the 50 most influential staffers on Capitol Hill, plans to start a new venture capital company, Health Ventures International, and will be chairman of CSGI Inc., a health information technology company, according to a release from Hoyer's office. He will also stay on as treasurer of Hoyer for Congress and the chairman of AMERIPAC, the No. 2 House Democrat's leadership political action committee...Lierman has also been a lobbyist for Capitol Associates and chaired the Maryland Democratic Party from 2004 to 2007, before joining Hoyer's office." [Roll Call]

THE 'AMERICANS NEED A HEALTH CARE RULING ACT' IS NOW A THING - Man, is it just us or our lawmakers becoming increasingly less inventive when it comes to naming bills? How close are we to close to backbenchers straight up naming their bills the "Listen, I Got A Bunch Of Tea Partiers In My District And I Need To Throw 'Em A Bone Act"? We would support that bill's sponsor, no questions asked. Mike Sacks and John Celock: "In November, the Court agreed to hear five and a half hours of oral argument over legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One of those hours will focus on a defense that would delay a decision on the law's constitutional merits until at least 2015. Earlier this month, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) introduced the Americans Need a Health Care Ruling Act to thwart such a defense and force the justices to declare by June whether the law stands or falls. Three of the four courts of appeals that have already commented on the Affordable Care Act based their decisions on the constitutionality of the act's 'individual mandate,' which requires virtually all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty on their tax returns. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, however, tossed out the case without weighing the mandate's constitutional merits. Instead, the three-judge panel held that the penalty constituted a tax, which triggers a Reconstruction-era law that forbids a person from challenging a tax until that tax has actually been paid. Rep. Lance has targeted that law, the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867, in his new bill." [HuffPost]

BUT WHAT WILL AMERICA'S GREAT UNCLES GET THEIR ESTRANGED RELATIVES FOR CHRISTMAS NOW? - @markknoller VP Biden announces reduced production of Presidential dollar coins as a way to cut government waste.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Slow-mo dogs out the car window.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Brrr... cold. That's all I can say about it. The jet stream is well to our north, however. And with a high pressure system around, the clear skies are the only positive. Tomorrow: Clouds will roll in, but it will be just a tad warmer. Just a tad. Thanks, JB!

By @bradjshannon!

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@jamiedupree: Iowa voters in new PPP poll give Denver QB Tim #Tebow 48% approval rating pdf

@simonmaloy: If you couldn't watch Trump's interview on Fox just now, here's what you missed:

@2chambers: Just got an email from Megabus. I wonder if they know the latest spending compromise is named after them.

By @tylerkingkade


5:30pm - 7:00pm: Bob Corker has a leadership reception, hoping to lead cash into his Super PAC. [601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW]

6:00pm: Ron Johnson and Marco Rubio ask for money at the Capitol Hill Club. [300 First Street SE]

6:00pm - 8:00pm: Basically, every Democratic Representative from California is going to go a wine chugging tasting tonight for Howard Berman. [19 D Street SE]

6:00pm: A fundraiser will be held at the 201 lounge for TOMPAC, which makes the best lubricants around! Whoops, wrong TOMPAC, this one is for Iowa liberal Tom Harkin. [201 Massachusetts Ave NE]

6:30pm: Mitch McConnell and John Thune will be with R.B. Murphy and Associates raising money for Dick Lugar at a holiday dinner. "Holiday" dinner? War on Christmas, anyone? eh? [220 E Street, NE]

7:00pm: Allyson Schwartz (D-Penn.) will watch her Philadelphia Flyers (most likely) beat the Washington Caps. [601 F Street NW]


8:00am - 9:00am: Ocean Champions hosts Olympia Snowe for breakfast and campaign contributions. [101 Constitution Ave NW]

11:30am - 1:00pm: Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, and Roy Blunt raise money for Dean Heller's Senate run. [425 2nd Street NE]

12:00pm: Tammy Baldwin and Kay Hagan raise money at the Women's Senate Network Monthly Lunch Forum. [122 Maryland Ave NE]

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