Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Allen West Wants To Blind Your Children

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Mitt Romney has ties to Walmart, which might explain why he is made almost entirely of plastic. Mark Pryor was an unwitting accomplice to a Girls Gone Wild contest (which was easily today's sleaziest political development -- unless there was a Jon Kyl/Dov Charney photo-op we missed). And as part of his ongoing youth-centered media push, President Obama gave an interview to Rolling Stone. It's only a matter of time until the commander-in-chief appears in Pitchfork giving the latest Broken Social Scene record a 5.8. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, April 25th, 2012:

WAR FOR YOUTH VOTERS UPDATE: BOEHNER PULLS A SWITZERLAND - Which is to say, he's very on the fence when it comes to actually helping and/or pleasing the youth. Mike McAuliff: "Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday laid down competing, partisan visions of how to maintain affordable student loan rates, with the GOP aiming to eliminate a health care measure and Democrats looking to tax people like Newt Gingrich. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that Democrats, by accusing the GOP of seeking to let student loan rates double to 6.8 percent in July, were trying to create a phony campaign issue. He argued that both parties want to help young Americans, but then proposed paying for the estimated $6 billion cost by killing a provision in the health care reform law...He was referring to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the purpose of which is to encourage people to take better care of themselves, thereby saving money down the road. The fund is one of the most popular targets for the GOP, and it is already set for elimination in the House budget plan at an estimated savings of $11.9 billion over 10 years." [HuffPost]

Allen West, doing interesting things with parliamentary procedure while on the House floor: "The American people want an economic future so bright that they will have to wear sunglasses. Thank you, and I yield back." [Via Mike McAuliff]

PSLGOPL WANTS TO PAY IT FORWARD - Our favorite Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, who's been scoping out DC Coast from the alley near Fast Eddie's (hoping to spot a Progressive Caucus Communist sneaking in for a hypocritical fundraiser), cannot stand this Obama student loan stuff. "Obama's largest contributor in 2008 were the University of California employees ($1,648,685) . #3 Harvard ($878,164), #10 Stanford ($595,716), #13 Columbia ($547,852) and #18 GSA Bureaucrats ($547,852). Imagine a world where generously paid college professors took a paycut for the kids instead of bundling cash for politicians. Now, that would be 'paying it forward.'" PSLGOPL has generously offered that he and his colleagues will give up all college and university lobbying revenue to help offset soaring tuition. PSLGOPL, of course, does no work for any colleges or university clients. Also, he's wrong about #18. That'd be all bureaucrats. Thanks, PSLGOPL!

According to Mississippi's governor, Democrats' "one mission in life is to abort children" (funny, we thought it was "dismantling the American way of life" -- shows what we know!). Laura Bassett: "Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R), in defending his decision to sign a bill that could shut down Mississippi's only abortion clinic, told conservative radio host Tony Perkins on Tuesday that Democrats' 'one mission in life is to abortion children.' 'Even if you believe in abortion, the hypocrisy of the left that now tried to kill this bill, that says that I should have never signed it, the true hypocrisy is that their one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb,' he said." Ok, then! [HuffPost]

GSA HEAD HAS HISTORY OF NOT BEING VERY SAVVY - In tomorrow's Roll Call from Jonathan Strong: "Jeff Neely, the embattled General Services Administration official at the center of a scandal over a lavish Las Vegas conference, was reprimanded in 2011 for appearing in a campaign ad for Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), documents obtained by Roll Call show."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) issued an executive order Tuesday that will soon require West Virginians enrolled in state job training programs to prove they're not on drugs. "I continuously hear from business leaders located all across the state, that they have jobs available but the candidates cannot pass a pre-employment drug screening," Tomblin said in a statement. "When this happens we have wasted taxpayer dollars, hurt our businesses, and limit our economic growth. My executive order will save taxpayer dollars by insuring graduates of Workforce West Virginia training are drug-free and ready to work." In his statement, the governor did not provide details about the rate at which job applicants trained by the state had been flunking potential employers' drug tests, but his complaint is a common one across the country. More than a dozen states have considered bills to drug test the unemployed, and more than 30 have mulled testing welfare applicants, with lawmakers frequently pointing to complaints from local businesses that job candidates can't pass drug tests. [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - Tomblin's testing scheme is similar to one launched in Indiana last year, which has shown a low rate of drug use among jobless workers in the state's training program. Of 3,106 people who peed in cups, just 68 tested positive for drugs, for a fail rate of 2.2 percent. A similarly low rate of drug use occurred among Florida welfare applicants subjected to a drug testing law last year. By contrast, national statistics show the rate of drug use among the general population is above 8 percent, and above 17 percent for people without jobs. [HuffPost]

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TOM COBURN IS NOT AN EASY MAN TO PLEASE - Here's Coburn in that big WaPo tick tock on the failure of the debt deal: "Coburn was 'shocked,' he said later, when he saw Obama's remarks that day on television. His effusive praise for the Gang of Six, Coburn believed, was a tactical mistake that revealed Obama's inexperience in the ways of Washington. It signaled to skittish conservatives that a tax hike was on the way. Obama's announcement, Coburn said in an interview, 'absolutely killed anything we were doing with the Republicans.'" Coburn in his new book, Debt Bomb: Obama's "decision [to reject Simpson-Bowles], I believe, will be remembered as one the greatest failures of presidential leadership in American history." A Coburn spokesman said that it was more about Obama's timing on the latter, but still... [Amazon]

GINGRICH TO DROP OUT: AMERICA TO BE SLIGHTLY LESS LECTURED IN COMING WEEKS, MONTHS - Gasp? AP: "Newt Gingrich began taking steps Wednesday to shut down his debt-laden presidential bid, setting the stage to endorse one-time rival Mitt Romney next week and rally the GOP behind its apparent nominee. Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said the former House speaker spoke with Romney on Wednesday and had started planning an event where he would throw his support behind the likely nominee. Gingrich had pinned his hopes on a strong showing in Delaware that did not materialize after the polls closed Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, he acknowledged to North Carolina voters that his White House dreams were effectively over. 'Newt is committed to helping the party stop Barack Obama's second term,' Hammond said. 'He will do everything he can to make sure that happens.'" [AP]

ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT: PEACE, PROSPERITY, EVERY DAY LOW PRICES - An everything-but-the-title adviser to Mitt Romney has close ties to Walmart. Conclusion: Mitt Romney will name that bouncing yellow smiley face as his running mate. Sam Stein: "A top GOP lobbyist with informal ties to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is among the group of officials helping Walmart manage the congressional fallout stemming from recent bribery allegations. Charlie Black, a longtime K-Street operator, was part of a bipartisan group of consultants brought in by Walmart's top D.C. lobbyists for a strategy meeting on Tuesday, Roll Call reported. Other attendees included Walmart's former in-house Democratic lobbyist Kimberly Woodard, the Podesta Group's Paul Brathwaite and Capitol Counsel's John Raffaelli...Black has been identified during media appearances as a member of the Romney team. According to a recent New York Times profile, Black 'is among those counseling Mr. Romney,' available for 'old-pro advice, back-channel information and whatever else the campaign happens to need.' The piece also noted that what informal advisers like Black "must not do is any harm, and this can be tricky since they often embody the capital's permanent lobbying and money class that many voters detest." [HuffPost]

Jimmy Carter: aboveboard and decent human being (translation: terrible politician). Politico: "Former President Jimmy Carter said he'd be 'comfortable' with a President Mitt Romney, but predicts President Barack Obama will keep his job. 'I'd rather have a Democrat but I would be comfortable. I think Romney has shown in the past, in his previous years as a moderate or progressive, that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics,' he told MSNBC's Chris Jansing in an interview that aired Wednesday." [Politico]

PRESIDENT CONTINUES AGGRESSIVE YOUNG PEOPLE PANDERING: APPEARS IN ROLLING STONE - Between this and his appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show, the likelihood that President Obama will attack Mitt Romney by posting GOP-themed lolcats on his tumblr is now 3:1. From the interview: "You have a Republican Party, and a presumptive Republican nominee, that believes in drastically rolling back environmental regulations, that believes in drastically rolling back collective-bargaining rights, that believes in an approach to deficit reduction in which taxes are cut further for the wealthiest Americans, and spending cuts are entirely borne by things like education or basic research or care for the vulnerable. All this will be presumably written into their platform and reflected in their convention. I don't think that their nominee is going to be able to suddenly say, 'Everything I've said for the last six months, I didn't mean.' I'm assuming that he meant it. When you're running for president, people are paying attention to what you're saying." [Rolling Stone]

Vice President Biden will attack Mitt Romney's foreign policy credentials AND just maybe remind people of that time his people killed bin Laden. Yahoo News: "With the one-year anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden less than one week away, Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday will offer a ringing defense of President Barack Obama's national security record and hammer presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's approach to foreign policy, the Obama campaign announced Wednesday. 'The Vice President will contrast the Administration's record with the empty rhetoric of Governor Mitt Romney...' the campaign said in an unsigned press release. It did not offer details of the alleged distortions." [Yahoo News]

LOBBYISTS, STAFFERS HAVE COMICALLY OPPOSITE COMMUNICATION PREFERENCES - Dave Levinthal & Anna Palmer: "Half of the more than 2,200 lobbyists surveyed say the most effective way to contact congressional staff is through an in-person visit to their offices....In contrast, more than two-thirds of the roughly 700 congressional staffers polled indicate that email is the best way for lobbyists to contact them..." HuffPost Hill chalks this up to lobbyists' desire to assuage their guilt and shame after they've sold out and "gone downtown." [Politico Influence]

HOUSE PASSES (ANTI-) GOVERNMENT WASTE BILL - The House today passed an item aimed at reducing government waste. So all you AWFUL LEECHES at our FBI field branches who keep upgrading to the four-door luxury sedan at Hertz... think again. AP: "On a voice vote, the House backed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, known as the DATA Act. The legislation would establish uniform standards for all recipients to report federal money and set up a single website where average Americans could search for information on how government agencies, departments and other recipients spend federal funds... Just weeks after revelations about the free-spending ways of officials from the General Services Administration, [Darrell] Issa and [House Oversight's] top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, added a provision that would limit the number of conferences held annually and the amount of money a government agency could spend on each event -- no more than $500,000." Will this bill unintentionally scare away (even more) qualified people from government work and into ethically dubious private sector jobs? Time will tell! [AP]

GIRLS GONE WILD FOUNDER EXPLAINS THAT WHOLE BUYING-A-CONGRESSIONAL-INTERNSHIP THING - First background, via National Journal: "Sen. Mark Pryor's, D-Ark., spokeswoman released a statement on Wednesday morning saying that a press release from the founder of 'Girls Gone Wild' is a hoax. A release issued on Tuesday night via PR Newswire from GGW Brands, LLC titled 'Girl Gone Wild Goes to Washington' says that 'Girls Gone Wild' founder Joe Francis has added an additional prize for the winner of the HDNet reality series, 'The Search for the Hottest Girl in America.'" Now an explanation from the Girls Girls Gone wild founder, via Washingtonian: "Francis says he bought the internship as an auction item through an 'intermediary who is close to the senator. It was offered to a select group of people.' He says he bought it to benefit a charity, the name of which he won't mention because, he says, 'They are upset about the media firestorm. No good deed goes unpunished.' He says, though, that since buying the item he has talked to the intermediary and confirmed it 'is all legit. I own it. I bought it.'" Goodness, this isn't sketchy! Not at all! [Washingtonian]

Our polling guru Mark Blumenthal unveiled HuffPost's sweet new election dashboard today. It features a state-by-state breakdown of Obama v. Romney polling, an awful purdy red/blue/gold color scheme and a killer Winamp app for all your hot tunes.

CHUCK SCHUMER TRIES TO PLEASE HIS MOST IMPORTANT CONSTITUENCY: THE WASHINGTON PRESS CORPS - Improving American democracy might have factored into his thinking, too (bonus!). Mike McAuliff: "Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) are renewing a push to make the lives of reporters and others interested in tracking political fundraising a little easier by requiring Senate campaigns to keep electronic fundraising records. Currently, fundraising records for the House and presidential races are filed in a digital format that can be accessed instantly. But in the Senate, candidates file large stacks of paper every quarter by mail, and it can take weeks before they are all available to the public. Those interested in the disclosure reports have to go through them manually, in a painstaking fashion that takes hours. The practice effectively gives Senate campaigns more time in which to portray the filings the way they want to before anyone else can verify them. It often reduces coverage of the reports when they are eventually filed, because they seem like old news by the time they are available." If Chuck REALLY wanted to make journalists happy, he'd try to get that Four Loko ban lifted. [HuffPost]

SUPREME COURT POISED TO REMIND PEOPLE AGAIN THAT BUSH V. GORE HAD CONSEQUENCES - Mike Sacks: "A majority of the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning appeared sympathetic to Arizona's argument that the most controversial elements of its immigration law offer a legitimate helping hand to federal immigration policy, rather than act as unconstitutional agents of chaos. The politically charged clash between Arizona and the United States was the final oral argument of the court's extraordinarily high-profile term and served as a rematch between D.C. superlawyer Paul Clement and U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who faced off in the health care cases over the course of three days in late March. Clement, arguing on behalf of Arizona and its governor, Jan Brewer, told the justices that the state's law, commonly known as S.B. 1070, 'borrowed the federal standard as its own' in combating Arizona's 'disproportionate share of the costs of illegal immigration.'" [HuffPost]

Elise Foley recorded video of a SB 1070 supporter singing a song we can only assume is called "Racist."

West Virginia Senate candidate John Raese defended Ted Nugent. To be fair, by West Virginia standards, defending Ted Nugent is about as politically dangerous in West Virginia as insisting you'll keep America safe and guarantee prosperity for West Virginia's children. Raese came to Nugent's defense at a campaign event, calling the rocker a "patriot" and saying that "it's a concern" that the Secret Service investigated after Nugent's inflammatory speech threatening President Obama. At the National Rifle Association convention, Nugent told fellow gun enthusiasts that "if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year." [HuffPost]

Remember Jeff Greene? He of the vomit-caked-yacht? Well Jeff Green remembers everything. Miami Herald: "Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene's libel suit against Times Publishing Co., publisher of the Tampa Bay Times, was dismissed by a judge on Monday. Greene, who lost the 2010 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, filed suit against the Times, then known as the St. Petersburg Times, and the Miami Herald. He alleged that three articles written by Times reporters that also appeared in the Herald cost him the primary and defamed his reputation. But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Valerie Manno-Schurr decided otherwise in Monday's ruling." [Via Jason Linkins]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Come on, Weasel. You're supposed to tear your bread into smaller pieces. Where are your manners?

RELOCATED - HuffPost DC: The closed Capital City Diner "moved to a spot in the middle of a future foodie bonanza land in Northeast D.C."

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- A shadowy new PAC is running ads on Animal Planet. [http://bit.ly/Iaj9WQ]

- "What Internet Commenters Would Say About Famous Writers" [http://bit.ly/IaktJ8]

- Christopher-Nolan-Batman is a real downer at birthday parties. [http://chzb.gr/Ial39G]

- NASA recovers shuttle program boosters. (Too soon?) [http://bit.ly/Iajw3v]

- "Lawless" is like Boardwalk Empire but without the boardwalk and with Shia LeBeouf. In theaters Aug 31. [http://chzb.gr/IajgkZ]

- African dudes try to dispel a few stereotypes about African dudes. [http://chzb.gr/Iakkp0]

- It's not easy being green. THIS guy knows what we're talking about. [http://bit.ly/IajtEU]

TWITTERAMA

@indecision: In the end, the one thing Newt Gingrich could not divorce himself from was reality.

@DRUNKHULK: GINGRICH QUIT RACE ON TUESDAY! DRUNK HULK HOPE HE GET HIS OLD JOB BACK IN KEEBLER TREE WITH OTHER ELVES!

@brianbeutler: Romney wins? MT @daveweigel Alternate history: IA doesn't screw up vote count. Santorum wins on election night, flies to SC. What happens?

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

6:30pm - 8:00pm: John Mayer tugs on the heartstrings of Washington's teenage girls at Grammy's On The Hill's annual fundraiser. Don't bother crashing, security is tight for this one. [415 New Jersey Ave. NW]

6:30pm: Members of Congress and their spouses whip up local dishes at the annual . But be warned, most of them cook as well as they legislate, which means you're in for a bout of food poisoning. [401 F St. NW]

TOMORROW

7:00pm - 9:00pm: If you're on the White House Correspondents' Dinner schedule, then we'll probably see you at NJ Hotline's Political Pursuit at the Newseum, a live quiz game where extremely wonky hosts try to stump even wonkier reporters. Questions typically involve failed Senate candidates state-by-state presidential victories. Yawn. [Newseum]

7:00pm: Just over from the Newseum, the Washington Ballet's Spring Benefit promises none of the wonky, very well-informed reporters from the quiz show, but lots more long dresses and rich people and trophy spouses. [1301 Constitution Ave. NW]

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com), Ryan Grim (ryan@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e