HUFFPOST HILL - People Who Think Like Mitt Romney Voting For Mitt Romney
Men who fire people for business and men who fire people for entertainment were united today when Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney. Rep. Denny Rehberg took the "glamour" out of his ranch by removing all the child-scalding branding irons. And the Senate took a break from berating Wall Street fat cats so it could *just barely* agree that insider trading should be stopped. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 2nd, 2012:
WALL STREET ABANDONING OBAMA - That sound you hear is thousands of security envelopes being postmarked on the Upper East Side. Sam Stein and Paul Blumenthal: "Over the course of the 2012 election, [President Obama]'s presidential campaign has received about one dollar in donations from the financial sector for every five dollars given to his top competitor, Mitt Romney, according to figures provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). During the final three months of 2011, however, the margin has widened dramatically. The Huffington Post examined campaign contributions from four highly influential finance sectors to both Obama and Romney. Using categories compiled by CRP, the 20 most politically active commercial banks, hedge funds, securities firms and "private equity and investment" firms were pinpointed (i.e. those with the strongest history of political donations); some lists overlapped. But between them, 68 separate companies were identified. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Romney raised $1.49 million from employees of those 68 companies while the president's reelection campaign raised just $127,000 -- an 11.7-to-1 ratio. It was the most lucrative quarter for Romney yet." [HuffPost]
INSIDER TRADING IS BAD, SENATE FINALLY AGREES - Remember how the STOCK Act was supposed to be a nothing bill? Well, after days of haggling and roughly 50,000 proposed amendments, the upper chamber can finally agree to ask a group of people not to engage in insider trading. Huzzah!!! WSJ: "The Senate was poised to pass legislation Thursday that would ban insider trading by lawmakers, after senators agreed to vote on 20 amendments to the bill... The amendments range from a permanent ban on federal earmarks, or targeted spending provisions that lawmakers add to bills to fund home-state projects, to an expansion of the bill's restrictions and disclosure requirements to the White House and other executive-branch employees. The Senate version of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge, or Stock Act, would clarify that lawmakers and senior aides have a duty not to trade on market-moving, nonpublic information. It also would require them to disclose stock-trading activity within 30 days. Lawmakers currently disclose stockholdings in annual financial-disclosure statements." Democrats also agreed to expand the bill to cover high-ranking agency officials. [WSJ]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - "We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I'll fix it," Mitt Romney says. "We have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor." The safety net might need some repair, particularly in the very state where the former Massachusetts governor is hoping to maintain momentum after a decisive victory in Tuesday's Republican primary election in Florida. Nevada has the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates of any state, and some of its safety net programs catch poor people at a lower rate than they do elsewhere. Nationwide, Medicaid covers only a quarter of non-elderly adults with annual incomes below 139 percent of the poverty line, the threshold for Medicaid eligibility (The poverty line is an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four). In Nevada, Medicaid covers just 12 percent of non-elderly adults in that income range. More than half of those go uninsured, compared with 44 percent, or 21.5 million people, for the broader U.S.The food stamp participation rate for eligible people was 72 percent nationwide in 2009. Nevada was among 12 states with rates significantly lower than the national average, with 61 percent of eligible people receiving food assistance. [HuffPost]
LOW INCOME REPUBLICANS SAY GOVERNMENT NOT HELPING ENOUGH; HATE GOVERNMENT, SELVES - Low-income Republican voters say the government does too little for poor people, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Over half of Republican-leaning registered voters earning less than $30,000 a year -- 57 percent -- say the government doesn't do enough to help the poor, while only 18 percent of these say it does too much, Pew found. By contrast, of Republican voters earning more than $75,000 annually, 44 percent say the government does too much for the poor, while 21 percent say it does too little. Nevertheless, the survey finds low-income Republicans distrust the government almost as much as their more wealthy counterparts. Eighty-five percent of poorer conservatives said they trust the government "only some of the time" or "never," compared with 91 percent for wealthier Republican voters. [HuffPost]
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REID PROMISES FIGHT OVER PAYROLL TAX - Like Hollywood, Washington only does sequels these days. The debt ceiling, the payroll tax cut, the trigger cuts, etc. Now Harry Reid is promising that Payroll Tax Fight 2: The Squeakquel will be a real doozy. And, like a good Tinsel Town flick, we know how this one ends. The Hill: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned Republicans Thursday they will be forced to vote multiple times on extending the payroll tax holiday if a Senate-House conference deadlocks on the issue. Democrats are skeptical that Republicans want to extend the payroll tax rate, which affects an estimated 160 million Americans, because of dismissive statements several House GOP conferees have made. Reid vowed to force Republicans to vote against extending the holiday if negotiators miss their Feb. 29 deadline." [The Hill]
JOHN BOEHNER AND ERIC CANTOR'S RELATIONSHIP COUNSELING IS GOING WELL - Politico: "Speaker John Boehner insisted today that he and Majority Leader Eric Cantor 'are teammates' -- and the discord between the two offices are driven by staff rivalries. POLITICO reported Thursday that the two leaders' staffs have been trying to smooth over their rocky relationship...Boehner confirmed the staff-on-staff infighting that has plagued GOP leadership ranks over the past several months, but downplayed a personal rivalry. Speaking at his weekly press briefing, the Ohio Republican claimed he and Cantor have not disagreed 'over the course of the last year.' 'As you're clearly aware, there's been a couple staff rumbles from time to time, but that's to be expected when you're doing big things,' Boehner said. The speaker said that lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill are 'very passionate people.'" [Politico]
SENSENBRENNER GETS RESULTS! - Jim Sensenbrenner took a victory lap today when the White House released some Herb Allison Solyndra report: "On Monday, I wrote the White House and asked that they release the report. Refusal to release the full report would have been an affront to American taxpayers." Nice work! Except, as The Daily Caller reported a couple months back, Allison "is tasked with issuing a public report to the administration after a 60 day audit of DOE's loan portfolio."
REP. DENNY REHBERG ISN'T CRAZY ABOUT CHILD LABOR REGULATIONS - Because, hey, it's not like the kids will lose a limb or nothin'! Dave Jamieson: "Rehberg, a six-term congressman who's running to unseat Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), said he's a fifth-generation Montana rancher whose great grandfather, born in 1873, started breaking horses at age 11. Rehberg said he has 'taken all the glamour' out of his ranching operation. 'I don't rope and I don't tie and I don't brand with a hot iron,' he went on, adding that he uses modern equipment that he said is virtually incapable of hurting children. 'You can't get hurt,' Rehberg fumed. 'It's impossible. You could have a five-year-old out there running it.' Rehberg added that he's previously employed a 10-year-old neighbor to herd cashmere goats with what he described as a Kawasaki youth motorcycle. 'Now would that be exempt under this rule?' Rehberg demanded of Nancy J. Leppink, a deputy administrator in the Labor Department." [HuffPost]
ROMNEY INVESTED IN ANTI-REPUBLICAN CAUSES, DESPITE CLAIM - Ronald Reagan's famous "11th Commandment" stated, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." Seeing as how Republicans firmly believe that money is a form of speech, Mitt's in trouble here. AP: "Presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised in 2007 he would shed any investments that conflicted with Republican positions on hot-button domestic and foreign policy issues. But Romney's family trusts kept some of those holdings and repeatedly bought new ones until 2010, when they were finally sold off for more than $3 million, according to a detailed review of Romney's financial records by The Associated Press. Recently disclosed tax returns for three family trust funds for Romney, his wife, Ann, and their adult children show scores of trades in companies whose business operations are inconsistent with Republican Party stances that Romney favors on Iran, China, stem cell research, abortion and other issues. A Romney campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said the former Massachusetts governor has no control over the investments made by his blind trust, but the trustee has tried to manage the trades 'in a manner consistent with Gov. Romney's publicly expressed positions.'" [AP]
Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney today, though we're pretty sure Romney already has the pompous business dude vote shored up. AP: "Donald Trump on Thursday announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney for president, saying the former Massachusetts governor is 'not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country we all love.' The reality show host and real estate mogul appeared with Romney and his wife, Ann, at a packed news conference at the Las Vegas hotel that bears Trump's name. Romney said he was honored to receive the endorsement, but hoped even more to win the endorsement of Nevada voters. The state holds presidential caucuses Saturday. The endorsement came after a topsy-turvy set of events that suggested Trump might endorse Newt Gingrich. Gingrich's camp had been so confident of winning the real estate mogul's backing that it had leaked word Trump would support the former House speaker." [AP]
@BuddyRoemer: Not going to lie. I was pretty confident Trump would endorse himself. #justsayin
ROMNEY UP IN NEVADA - The cool thing is, it's a lot easier to fly in a bunch of BYU students to be prop audience members when it's in the adjacent state! Mark Blumenthal: "Although a just-released poll of likely Republican caucus-goers in Nevada finds Mitt Romney with a huge lead, polls in Nevada and the other upcoming Republican caucus states have been scarce. Where have all the polls gone? While budgets are a factor, the main reason is the difficulty of surveying likely voters in low-turnout caucuses. The new Nevada poll, released Wednesday and conducted by the University of Nevada-Las Vegas' Canon Survey Center for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Nevada's 8NewsNow, finds Romney winning nearly half the vote (45 percent). Newt Gingrich (25 percent), Rick Santorum (11 percent) and Ron Paul (9 percent) all run far behind among the 426 registered Republicans surveyed who said they planned to attend the Nevada caucuses on Saturday." [HuffPost]
UNLESS DOLLAR BILLS ARE ALSO PEOPLE, NOT A LOT OF FOLKS ARE GIVING TO ROMNEY - WaPo: "A quarter of the money amassed by Romney's campaign and an allied super PAC has come from just 41 people, each of whom has given more than $100,000, according to a Washington Post analysis of disclosure data. Nearly a dozen of the donors have contributed $1 million or more.The preponderance of mega-rich supporters poses a political challenge for Romney, who has struggled for weeks over questions about his vast wealth, his history as a private equity manager and a series of gaffes that seemed to highlight his privileged station. He stumbled again on Wednesday when he told a CNN interviewer that he was 'not concerned about the very poor, because they have a safety net.' Some of Romney's biggest supportersinclude executives at Bain Capital, his former firm; bankers at Goldman Sachs; and a hedge fund mogul who made billions betting on the housing crash. These and other donor details follow the release last week of Romney's tax returns, which showed millions held in the Cayman Islands and other overseas havens and a tax rate that is far lower than that paid by most American workers." [WaPo]
GINGRICH RESORTING TO TIME-TESTED CAMPAIGN STRATEGY: WHINING - It's like the super delegates, but considerably less interesting! Sam Stein: "A top official with the Newt Gingrich campaign said Thursday that the former House speaker would take a challenge over the allocation of Florida's delegates all the way to the GOP convention floor if circumstances demanded it. Bill McCollum, Gingrich's Florida co-chair and the state's former Attorney General, confirmed to Fox News that his candidate was appealing a rule dictating that the winner of the Florida primary receive all of the state's 50 delegates. Arguing that a strict reading of the RNC bylaws requires those delegates to be distributed proportionally, McCollum pledged to make the case to the Republican Party's contest committee, and appeal beyond there if need be." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - First it was Mogli. Now, a kitten.
More like Susan G. Goin'!!! Laura Bassett and Lisa Belkin: "Dr. Kathy Plesser, a Manhattan radiologist on the medical advisory board of Susan G. Komen for the Cure's New York chapter, said she plans to resign from her position unless Komen reverses its decision to pull grant money from Planned Parenthood. 'I'm a physician and my interest is women's health, and I am disturbed by Komen's decision because I am a very strong advocate for serving under-served women,' Plesser told The Huffington Post. 'Eliminating this funding will mean there's no place for these women to go. Where are these women to go to have a mammography? Do they not deserve to have mammography?' With her decision, Plesser joins Komen's top public health official, Mollie Williams, and the executive director of Komen's Los Angeles County chapter, Deb Anthony, both of whom also resigned in protest." [HuffPost]
- The Rick Santorum edition of "Bad Lip Reading" portrays the candidate as making marginally less sense. [http://bit.ly/yQaVXw]
- Cat does flute impression. [http://bit.ly/wcG8Dd]
- Donkey does violin impression. [http://bit.ly/AwQEub]
- This high school athlete's success clearly does not come from standing on the shoulders of giants. [http://chzb.gr/zbOWwA]
- Puppy Bowl sneak peak! [http://bit.ly/yx1S1d]
- Our turbine broke :C [http://onion.com/xHiBPw]
- Guy takes "Sonic" literally. [http://bit.ly/yqRrbV]
- Kim Jong Un sure looks at a lot of things. [http://bit.ly/yx1S1d]
@pourmecoffee: This week in Downton Abbey, USA: Lord Romney and Lord Trump form a strategic alliance.
@chrislhayes: I like Tom Coburn's new Greenpoint-barista-suited-up-for-a-job-interview look.
@LOLGOP: These leaves Michele Bachmann as the last terrible endorsement that Mitt and Newt are fighting for.
5:30pm - 7:00pm: All 11 remaining centrists in the House GOP caucus hunker down at a fundraiser for their Tuesday Group PAC. Elsewhere on the Hill, fellow Republicans plot their demise. [Sonoma, 223 Pennsylvania Ave, SE]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: Dylan Ratigan toasts his latest
rantbook "Greedy Bastards" at a party with the granddaddys of political indignation, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Tom Coburn. [1600 K Street NW, invitation only]
Friday 12:00pm - 1:00pm: Brown bag lunch lecture on congressman, abolitionist and underground railroad operator Owen Lovejoy. Like public television - only live. [Rayburn 2168]
7:30pm - 9:30pm: Short-sleeved dress shirts and unrealistic goals are on tap at the 5th annual School Counselor of the Year Awards. Arne Duncan will deliver the pep talk. [50 Massachusetts NE]
Sat. - Sun.: Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers has extra tickets to the Superbowl, and he'll give you one for $5,000. Which is a pretty good deal, actually. [Indianapolis, Ind.]
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