POLITICS
05/15/2012 06:12 pm ET Updated Jul 15, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - House GOPers Using Taxpayer Funds To Annoy People

We're not entirely sure, but we think President Obama's reelection team is guided by a memo titled "BAIN ROMNEY BAIN ROMNEY BAIN ROMNEY BAIN ROMNEY BAIN ROMNEY BAIN ROMNEY: A Strategic Forecast." A politician in New Hampshire actually found a creative way to compare a political rival to Hitler. And George W. Bush's endorsement of Romney couldn't have been more tepid, even if he called the former Massachusetts governor "that nerd fella with the hair" while snickering profusely.This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, May 15th, 2012:

NEBRASKA REPUBLICAN PRIMARY - Amanda Terkel, with a preview of this cornhusker kick---er, match? Cornhusker kickmatch? No? Sorry.... "Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE 43rd District) is hoping to pull off an upset in Tuesday's Nebraska GOP Senate primary election. The primary is considered a three-way race between Fischer, Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) and Treasurer Don Stenberg (R). Although Bruning has consistently led in the polls, Fischer has attracted some last-minute notice. Joe Ricketts, who owns the Chicago Cubs with his family and started TD Ameritrade, also threw in $200,000 in a last-minute attempt to doom Bruning, placing one spot that criticizes Bruning and another that praises Fischer. The winner will go on to face Democrat Bob Kerrey in the general election." [HuffPost]

"Vote early, vote often," You betcha edition: "Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, are using their starpower to give a last-minute boost to Fischer...In her robocall, Sarah Palin also plays up Fischer's conservative credentials, mentioning her opposition to abortion. In a race where public figures like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Rick Santorum and the Palins have all divided their endorsements, each of the candidates is trying to convince GOP voters that he or she is the true conservative." [Ibid.]

SPOTTED (PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST EDITION): JUSTIN RUBEN - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist -- apparently able to conquer his agoraphobia just long enough to leave his underground bunker and board a train -- spotted MoveOn.org Executive Director Justin Ruben. "I think I'm sitting next to Justin Ruben on the Acela! I bet he has a Town Car waiting for him in NYC!" PSLGOPL gushed over email. "So awesome. He sends me a gazillion emails a day. He asks people for 3 dollars or whatever they can spare, then rides in style sitting next to me." Damn limousine liberals, PSLGOPL!

Reached for comment, Ruben said he's long known our self-loathing lobbyist from reading HuffPost Hill: "I was in fact on the Acela today, and am crestfallen that the PSLGOPL (sp?) didn't say hi. We could've had such a great conversation about why the GOP wants to cut food stamps to give more tax breaks to billionaires. This DOES explain the persistent smell of money and the small pool of crude oil on the seat next to mine when I got off the train. And for the record -- I had no Town Car waiting for me but maybe next time the PSLGOPL will offer me a ride in the Kochmobile."

SENATE TO CONFIRM FED NOMINEES, VOTE ON FANTASY BUDGETS - The Senate on Wednesday will play dress-up, as its members put on suits and pretend to legislate. Republicans are forcing votes on five separate non-binding budgets, including Paul Ryan's, Rand Paul's and a few others that we are sure would do terrible things to old people if they weren't fake. "All these ridiculous budgets they have, five of them, are non-binding. The president doesn't have to sign them, never has had to," Harry Reid said today. The upper chamber will also move forward on Jeremy Stein and Jerome Powell, a bipartisan pair of nominees being held up by Paul. Mitch McConnell today guessed they would have the votes to invoke cloture.

TEA PARTY FRESHMAN FILLING UP NATION'S MAILBOXES WITH TAXPAYER FUNDED CLUTTER - Ledyard King: "The 87 GOP members of the freshman class sent more than 25.6 million pieces of unsolicited mail last year at a cost of nearly $9.8 million, according to a review of records compiled by the chief administrative officer of the House. The figures cover only the nine months from April 1 to Dec. 31. Prior to that, mass mailings were not broken out from other taxpayer-financed mass communications allowed under the congressional franking rule. The costs include the expense of producing the piece and the price of postage...Of the 10 lawmakers who spent the most taxpayer money on franked mail, eight were GOP freshmen. Of the 25 who spent the most, 18 were GOP freshmen. Republicans Joe Heck of Nevada ($319,251), Bobby Schilling of Illinois ($293,021) and Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee ($282,385) topped the list." [USA Today]

Tomorrow in Roll Call, Amanda Becker reminds us that Washington is not a meritocracy: "A Senator hiring a recent college graduate from his home state with previous political experience wouldn't usually raise any eyebrows. But Sen. Tom Coburn's recent decision to hire a former Member's son who has a criminal record illustrates the latitude lawmakers have to hire as they see fit -- and the value of personal connections in a world where information about wrongdoing can be found at a moment's notice... [the] transgression occurred years before he arrived in Coburn's office. It certainly helped that he is the son of NFL Hall of Famer and former Oklahoma Rep. Steve Largent (R) and that he previously interned for former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) during a summer in college."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Philadelphia resident Sheila Whitelaw lost her job as a manager at a clothing store when the store closed in 2010. She suspects she hasn't found steady work since because she's too old. "At 71 years of age, I didn't know how long it might take to find a job; the economy was in bad shape with millions of people out of work," Whitelaw, now 73, said Tuesday. "I started sending out my resume to hundreds of jobs. I have had about 15 interviews, but I rarely even receive a response afterward. It then occurred to me that a potential employee could look me up on the internet, and lo and behold, there was my age, clearly printed for all to see! I sensed my inability to find work had something to do with age, but I couldn't prove it." Whitelaw spoke as a witness during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Aging, chaired by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), examining the predicament facing older workers who've lost their jobs during the economic malaise of the last few years. Fortunately, an economist from the conservative Manhattan Institute was on hand to tell Whitelaw age discrimination is a fake problem, not a real one. [HuffPost]

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BOEHNER ITCHING FOR ATTENTION ANOTHER DEBT CEILING FIGHT THE TEA PARTY TO THINK HE'S ONE OF THEM - Luke Johnson: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sees the debt ceiling as an 'action-forcing event' where he will insist on cuts greater than the increase, setting up a legislative fight similar to the one that paralyzed Congress last summer. Boehner called the statutory debt limit the 'only avenue' to solve "our structural fiscal imbalance," at the Peter G. Peterson Fiscal Summit Tuesday. A Boehner aide told the Washington Post that tax increases are still off the table... A variety of spending cuts and tax increases take effect shortly after the debt ceiling is expected to be reached, potentially setting up a battle worse than last summer. Geithner said in February said that he expects that the debt ceiling will be hit sometime between Sept. 30, 2012 and the end of the year. The Bush-era tax cuts also expire at the end of 2012, and $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts to defense spending and Medicare as part of the debt ceiling deal take effect in 2013." Tim Geithner quickly pointed out that the debt ceiling won't precisely coincide with the tax cut deadline. Sorry, guy. [HuffPost]

OLYMPIA SNOWE OPEN TO FILIBUSTER REFORM - Funny how they always remember what they believe in once they're on their way out. Sam Stein: "Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who announced her retirement several months ago, acknowledged that it was necessary for her and her colleagues to consider whether changing the rules of the filibuster was needed to remedy the Senate. 'I would look at that,' Snowe told The Huffington Post. 'I don't know if it is necessary. But I think that all of that is a possibility to unravel this situation. I haven't gone on any of the legislation that has proposed some of the rules changes. I don't know if we have to change the 60-vote number or not because my concern is that's what builds consensus, supposedly'...Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called explicitly for filibuster reform, saying that Republicans had abused the practice time and time again. " [HuffPost]

RON PAUL UNLIKELY TO ENDORSE GUY WHO STANDS FOR EVERYTHING HE HATES: RON PAUL ADVISER - Jon Ward: "A top adviser to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said Tuesday that the insurgent presidential candidate will probably not endorse Mitt Romney for president. 'I would never say never,' said Jesse Benton, national chairman of Paul's campaign. 'I do not believe that that is likely.' Benton told reporters that Paul and his campaign staff have appreciated the respect with which the Romney campaign has treated them in discussions about the party platform, which will be voted on at the Republican convention in Tampa in August. But Benton said the support of Paul's devoted supporters is not guaranteed to go to Mitt Romney and issued a warning. Paul, a 76-year-old congressman who is leaving the House after his current term, wants placed on the platform the following: a proposal for stricter oversight of the Federal Reserve, a ban on indefinite detention of American citizens as well as a provision advocating greater freedom on the Internet, to keep the government from treating it as a 'public utility.'" [HuffPost]

@daveweigel: On call, Ron Paul spox Jesse Benton says there's "no chance" he'll endorse Gary Johnson

The Republican National Convention is going to be a doozy -- that's right, the one where they nominate Mitt Romney. CBS News: "Acknowledging that Mitt Romney is in a strong position to win the Republican nomination, Ron Paul campaign chair Jesse Benton said Tuesday that Paul's famously loyal and enthusiastic fan base will be represented at the Tampa convention by the hundreds, with 'a very, very strong message that we're here," but in a way that's 'respectful.'.. Another goal, he said, is to arrive in Tampa with as many delegates as possible to influence the debate and to "vote on party rules and allow us to shape the process for future liberty candidates." As National Journal/CBS News reported last week, the Texas congressman's campaign is paving the way for his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to take over the libertarian reigns and in a possible 2016 presidential bid." [CBS News]

Dick Lugar isn't sure whether he'll endorse Mourdock. Jen Bendery: "'I have no comment,' Lugar said when asked by The Huffington Post. Lawmakers in both parties have lamented the loss of Lugar, who is seen as one of few Republicans left in the Senate capable of working in a bipartisan way. Even President Barack Obama issued a statement praising Lugar's record." [HuffPost]

Washington's greatest celebrity, Daniel Lippman, wrote a piece about last night's Washington-centric episode of "Jeopardy!"

BUSH 43 ENDORSES ROMNEY - As he was entering an elevator today, former President Bush endorsed Mitt Romney today after being asked about it by a reporter. The first news item we read about it said the endorsement was given as the "doors closed on" Bush -- which, quite believably, implied that the elevator doors sandwiched the former commander-in-chief (remember the Chinese door incident?? --- those were the days). NYT: "Former President George W. Bush made a rare return to Washington on Tuesday to promote international dissidents, a memorial to Sept. 11 heroes and, as it happened, Mitt Romney... While Mr. Bush was focused on politics overseas, he finally put his toe into politics at home. As Mr. Bush was leaving the event, a reporter asked about the presidential race, and he replied, 'I'm for Mitt Romney.' Mr. Bush had declined to make an endorsement until now, but with Mr. Romney's last Republican rivals now out of the race, the former president opted to speak out." The last time ABC snatched news from closing elevator doors, it was when Jim Bunning gave 'em the finger in 2010. [NYT]

"'We welcome the president's support, as we welcomed his father's,' Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told CNN."

PRO-OBAMA SUPER PAC REMINDS AMERICA ABOUT BAIN - And with such miserly efficiency that even Bain would approve of it (that is, if it weren't being accused of causing enough working-class destruction to make John Mellencamp vomit). Luke Johnson: "One day after President Barack Obama's reelection campaign launched videos and a website attacking Mitt Romney's record at private equity firm Bain Capital, a pro-Obama super PAC is launching a $4 million ad campaign and a website attacking Romney on the same issue. Priorities USA Action released a 30-second ad Tuesday morning on the closure of the Kansas City plant of GST Steel, which Bain Capital acquired in 1993. The ad features steelworker Pat Wells, who lost his job at the plant. 'With Romney and Bain Capital, the objective was to make money,' Wells says. 'Whether the companies they came in and worked with made money or not was irrelevant. Bain Capital always made money.'" [HuffPost]

FINALLY, A WHOLE BOOK ABOUT MITT ROMNEY'S DOG - Dogs Against Romney, the massively popular Facebook page reminding people that Romney once put his dog on the car roof for a 12-hour drive, will help publicize an actual book about the 1983 incident, due in June. "Dogs Against Romney will be coordinating with Simon & Schuster next month to help with the launch of the new book, DOG ON THE ROOF! On the Road with Mitt and the Mutt by political satirists Bruce Kluger and David Slavin, with illustrations by Colleen Clapp," Dogs Against Romney says. [Amazon]

GOP CANDIDATE LAUNCHES KINDA OFFENSIVE, BUT MOSTLY JUST WEIRD, ANTI-DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ WEBSITE - The site in question comes from Florida businessman Ozzie deFaria -- who is running to compete against DWS in November -- and features an image of Wasserman Schultz in a spiked dog collar and the words "STOP BARACK OBAMA'S BIGGEST ATTACK DOG!" While it's kinda sexist in a creepy and controlling patriarchal sense, some viewers might be left with the idea that DWS would feel really out of place at a Metallica show. Amanda Terkel: "[deFaria] has launched a website devoted to mocking Wasserman Schultz, saying she is 'Nancy Pelosi's East Coast Twin and Obama's biggest Attack Dog.' At the top of the site is a photo of the congresswoman, manipulated to show her in a dog collar. At the bottom of the site, set in a large font, is a quote by Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), saying that Wasserman Schultz is 'the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the United States Congress.'... The website appears to have launched several months ago and had been noticed by conservative blogs but is just now getting pickup in local media." [HuffPost]

YOU KNOW WHO ELSE USED DECEITFUL PARLIAMENTARIAN MINUTIAE TO STIFLE HIS OPPONENTS? HITLER. - Did we say "Hitler"? We meant to say "William O'Brien, speaker of the New Hampshire House." John Celock: "A Republican lawmaker in New Hampshire was physically removed from the state House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon after he made a Nazi salute during a contentious debate about limiting what is considered valid voter identification. Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) shouted, 'Sieg Heil' and moved his hand in the air after House Speaker William O'Brien (R-Mont Vernon) restricted what he could address during a floor debate on an amendment to a state voter ID bill. O'Brien had restricted what Vaillancourt could say about the full bill, saying that he could not reference the House Election Law Committee's discussion, only the issues presented in the committee report." [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - If Statler and Waldorf were real people -- and friendly -- they'd be these two dudes.

FRANK GEHRY CHANGES COURSE - HuffPost DC: "After months of complaints from the Eisenhower family and others, statues will be added to the controversial Ike memorial design." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Battleship director Peter Berg gave the most Bergian interview possible. [http://on.vh1.com/IWB3KX]

- Hey coastal elites, "Almost Politically Correct Redneck" is the next meme you're going to love for a bit and then get sick of. [http://bit.ly/Kdv1F5]

- Hey coastal elites, here's Noam Chomsky talking about the Occupy movement. [http://bit.ly/JIcRyt]

- Young person somehow finds adorable way to propose to his girlfriend without incorporating music or props. [http://bit.ly/JDsSpN]

- The Sled House is a house... on a sled. [http://bit.ly/IKkRRq]

- Tangerine peel art? YES PLEASE! [http://bit.ly/IJoFOk]

TWITTERAMA

@delrayser: I have a Corgi, am I qualified? RT @BuzzFeedBen: Also, starting to think about the BuzzFeed DC bureau #hideyour....

@meredithshiner: Why does every dude intern have the shaggy Bieber bowl haircut? #IFeelLikeAGrandma

@benjysarlin: FOX News hosting discussion on how youth voters are all ignorant, stupid. No idea why they don't vote Republican.

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

6:00 - 8:00pm: Apparently sitting on your ass and watching TV has its own lobby, and it's called the Sports Fans Coalition. Their Spring Kick-off Reception honors "policymakers who have fought for fans." And fans' right to loaf around the house. [144 Constitution Ave SE]

6:00pm - 9:00pm: To the list of lobbies you didn't think existed, you can add Clear-Cutting Loggers "Forest Owners," and you can join them for a Spring Congressional Reception. We can't hardly imagine what they would want from Congress.... [902 Hart]

7:00pm: If you were a congressman whose shady financing and reputed mob ties were currently under investigation, would you throw a fundraiser in a cigar club? Yeah, well apparently no one told Rep. Michael Grimm about that. [CXIII Rex Cigar Club, 113 King St., Alexandria]

TOMORROW

6:00pm - 9:00pm: Of the zillions of receptions going on tonight, we've got high hopes for the 11th Annual Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America's Toast to Congress. If you go, only go for the last hour -- higher-ups will be gone by then, so you can get good and drunk like you're supposed to. [Eastern Market, 225 7th St. SE]

5:00pm - 7:00pm: Ok, here's your partying strategy: Before you go to the booze industry thing (see above), hit up the Snack Food Association Congressional Reception to fortify yourself with such delicacies as Fritos, buffalo wings, and Ho-hos. [Minutemen Ballroom, 1 Constitution Ave, NE]

6:30pm: Sometimes it's weirdly refreshing to see rich senators out-and-out embrace their preference for fancy, rich-people restaurants and dispense with the phony, "down-home barbeque" crap. For that, we bring you Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey's fundraiser at Central Michel Richard. Bon apetit! [1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW]

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