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HUFFPOST HILL - Chuck Brown Dies, Obama Visits Boutique Sandwich Shop And Other Tales From Washington's Cultural Demise

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Herman Cain told Republicans to "get over" their reservations about Mitt Romney, recalling Dwight Eisenhower's famous campaign motto, "I Like-ish Ike." President Obama and John Boehner met in private to discuss the debt ceiling -- no word on whether the president told the speaker, "John, I will give you D.C. abortion... again." And President Obama demonstrated his local bona fides by visiting a trendy sandwich shop. However, if the commander-in-chief really wants to connect with Northern Virginia voters, he'll have to step up his game and commute to the Georgetown Waterfront for sangria and gossip with the gals. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 16th, 2012:

BOEHNER AND OBAMA MEET, DISCUSS DEBT CEILING - And it was awkward. Think parent-teacher conference with recently separated parents awkward. Sam Stein: "President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met for lunch Wednesday, during which the predictable battle lines were drawn over allowing the U.S. government to pay off its financial obligations for the foreseeable future. According to a readout of the meeting from Boehner's office, the president made it clear that he wanted a debt-ceiling increase without any attached spending cuts... 'As long as I'm around here, I'm not going to allow a debt-ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt,' said Boehner... According to a Senate Democratic aide, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urged both sides to put off negotiations over the debt ceiling until after they had finalized talks on the Bush tax cuts and the triggers. 'Since no debt ceiling increase will likely be necessary until after the end of the year, Senator Reid conveyed his view that any discussion of the debt ceiling is premature,' the aide emailed. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.), meanwhile, kept his remarks predominantly on the need to press forward with legislation that could garner 60 votes in the Senate, including a bill to keep student-loan interest rates at their current levels." [HuffPost]

If you're a political nerd, this is the greatest photo you'll ever see, sent by a reader. CC: IRS

SENATE RITUALISTICALLY SACRIFICES TIME, RESOURCES - Andrew Taylor: "Democrats controlling the Senate rejected for the second year in a row Wednesday a budget plan passed by House Republicans. The 58-41 vote against the GOP budget came after a daylong debate in which Democrats blasted Republicans for refusing to consider tax increases as part of a solution to trillion-dollar deficits, and Republicans in turn attacked Democrats for not offering a budget at all. Republicans launched the debate, which was aimed less at successfully passing a bill than highlighting the failure of Senate Democrats to deal with a budget deficit expected to top $1 trillion for the fourth consecutive year. The Senate was to vote on five separate budget plans, including one based on President Barack Obama's February budget and offered by Republicans to embarrass Democrats and the White House. It failed on a 99-0 vote. Three GOP senators elected in 2010 with tea party support also offered plans in a competition to see whose budget could cut government the most." [AP]

RIP CHUCK BROWN - The Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, has passed away. Culturally speaking, he is survived by half smokes, overcrowded brunch spots, WAMU and places where Duke Ellington lived. [HuffPost DC]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Art Bailly of San Mateo, Calif. figured he had another couple months worth of unemployment insurance. He said he was super upset to discover last week that his bennies would stop after Saturday. "I wasn't too happy when I found out, especially because they didn't even send me a letter notifying me I was being cut off," Bailly, 42, told DDD. Presumably, letters went out to most of the 90,000-plus Californians affected by the cutoff and Bailly's missing missive was just a goof. California is one of eight states that lost eligibility for the final 20 weeks of federal benefits over the weekend, per a February congressional deal to make life harder for unemployed people. Bailly said that had he known his benefits would be stopping, he would have lowered his job-search sights weeks ago instead of continuing to hold out for $13-an-hour jobs like the one he'd lost in the videogame compliance biz. "I just don't like the fact that they cut me off like that without any notice. I'm running around out here looking for jobs at McDonald's." [Earlier on HuffPost]

PHRMA EMAILS COMING OUT - The Energy and Commerce Committee today released a few emails relating to the White House-PhRMA deal on health care reform, that everybody knew about but that they both denied anyway. As with most of these email dumps, we don't learn much of substance, but it sure is fun to see the action. Like this one from Nancy Ann DeParle, who ran point on health care for the White House, wondering if they hadn't been too mean to House Democrats. "I think we should have included the House in these discussions, but maybe we never would have gotten anywhere if we had," she emailed a PhRMA rep. Or this one from Jim Messina, the former Baucus staffer, bain of the left, who cut all the deals and now runs the Obama campaign: "What the hell? This wasn't part of our deal." (There's no context given to that email, but our health care sleuth Jeffrey Young thinks it had to do with biologics.) When we reported (completely accurately) on the contents of this deal back in the summer of 2009, based on notes taken at the meeting, both PhRMA and the White House denied it on the record. When we ran the story anyway, we got this response from a White House official: "Come on man -- you have a memo that purports to be an agreement between two parties, both of whom tell you on the record that it isn't accurate. You don't have any firsthand knowledge of what happened, and you don't have anyone on the record. What exactly would it take for you not to write what you wanted to write?...Do you think it's odd that you couldn't get anyone on the record to back it up? I'm not trying to make this personal -- but it makes no sense." Okay, victory lap over.

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DARRELL ISSA GETS REAL - Zach Carter: "House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has taken the unprecedented step of leaking a secret U.S. trade document, in hopes of pressuring President Barack Obama's administration into disclosing the details of a major trade deal with far-reaching implications on everything from 'Buy American' contracting rules to prescription drug prices to internet freedom. Issa -- who endeared himself to the tech community in 2011 by speaking out against the Stop Online Piracy Act -- is again taking up Silicon Valley's cause in the talks surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the United States and eight Pacific nations... On Tuesday afternoon, Issa published the entire intellectual property (IP) chapter of the Trans-Pacific agreement as drafted by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the White House agency responsible for negotiating trade deals. The document was previously available online through unofficial channels of questionable legality, but Issa's posting of the document dramatically increases the political pressure on USTR and the Obama administration." [HuffPost]

The GOP's version of the Violence Against Women Act got two thumbs up today from Bros Before Hoes International the National Coalition For Men. The coalition argues, in a Tuesday letter to members of Congress that was forwarded to HuffPost, that the Republican bill protects both men and women, while the original VAWA aimed to protect only women. "Those opposing H.R. 4970 loudly assert that VAWA serves all people, which is absurd on its face given the name of the Act. Opposing versions, by omission and lack of specificity, generally exclude men, particularly heterosexual men, regardless of specious arguments to the contrary," states the letter from coalition President Harry Crouch. After the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that included protections for unauthorized immigrant, Native American and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender victims of domestic violence, House Republicans wrote a bill that strips out those provisions and rolls back existing the confidentiality protections for immigrant women who have been abused. [With HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

Debbie Wasserman Schultz charged today that John Boehner drove the partisan nature of the the VAWA fight. His spokesman Michael Steel responded by pointing out that Chuck Schumer has said, on the record, that he planned to politicize it after Senate Republicans in committee began raising objections to its reauthorization.

CHECKING IN WITH THE CAMPAIGN HIVE MINDS - Howard Fineman: "[In Chicago,] the ball-field-sized expanse evoked the intense informality of a hot tech start-up on the verge of going public: a low-ceilinged room with some 300 savvy 20-somethings hunched over rows of monitors and laptops (or standing up, with laptops perched on boxes), writing code, feeding social media or doing research with the quiet urgency of shareholders who want to cash in...That means, above all, attacking Romney's record as CEO at Bain Capital, as governor of Massachusetts and even as leader of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Obama team will try to portray Romney as a selfish, untrustworthy and uncaring man with troglodytic, Bush-style, trickle-down economic views and little personal connection to the lives of average working people...In Boston, meanwhile, there is a quietly expressed belief that Obama's house of cards that will collapse itself under the weight of bad economic conditions and a gathering public realization that the president has failed. Romney's headquarters resemble an established, somewhat sleepy brokerage firm. A growing boiler room can be found on the first floor, but the hushed upper floors, lined with traditional offices, are where the mostly unhurried action is." [HuffPost]

ROMNEY GIVING UP ON MASSACHUSETTS - Where, let's be honest, he can't win if he draws his support primarily from a few bros in the Prudential Tower and the members of Boston College's football team who actually registered to vote. Oh, and maybe some super diehard Curt Schilling fans. AP: "Don't bet on Mitt Romney winning his home state. Or even trying. 'That's not been a topic of discussion,' Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden said when asked if the Republican former Massachusetts governor would compete in the heavily Democratic state. Romney was never a hero in the liberal bastion, and aides say there are other ways he can win the White House and deny President Barack Obama a second term without the 11 electoral votes Massachusetts offers. The fact that Romney likely cannot win Massachusetts - and probably won't even try to - illustrates the degree to which his currying favor with conservative Republicans in GOP presidential primaries has alienated the moderate base that launched his political career. If Romney defeats Obama while losing Massachusetts, he would be the first presidential candidate elected without carrying his home state since before the Civil War. James K. Polk lost Tennessee en route to the White House - 168 years ago." Really, Romney's so upopular there he might take Scott Brown down with him. [AP]

Swing state Independents aren't happy with President Obama's handling of the housing crisis. Dave Jamieson: 'The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, indicated that majorities of likely independent voters in Nevada, Arizona and North Carolina disapprove of how Obama has dealt with the housing crash and its aftermath, while near-majorities disapprove in Pennsylvania and Florida. Majorities of voters polled in all of those states said they feel the administration is not adequately monitoring lenders in the housing market. In Nevada, a state devastated by the housing debacle, a whopping 70 percent of respondents said they disapprove of Obama's handling of the crisis." [HuffPost]

GINGRICH WANTS TO BE ROMNEY'S 'VISIONARY STRATEGIST' - Which sounds almost as made-up and stupid as "Inspiration Secretary," "Zeitgeist Pollster" and "Social Media Director." The Hill: "Newt Gingrich tells Newsmax that he's not terribly interested in a cabinet position with a potential Mitt Romney Administration. 'I'd be very glad to try to be helpful to President Romney. If the president asks for my advice I'd be glad to help him pro bono, just as a good citizen. But I'm more of a visionary strategist, and I'd rather focus at that level." [The Hill]

@igorbobic: Somewhat ironic watching Romney press aide box out reporters on the ropeline as Kid Rick wails out 'Born Free' bit.ly/LbSUnl

HERMAN CAIN: I AM AMERRRICUHHH/ ONE MITT, UNITED WE STAAAANNND - CNN: "Herman Cain, who suspended his own bid for the GOP presidential nomination amid a flurry of allegations of past sexual impropriety, backed Mitt Romney Wednesday -- his third endorsement after dropping out of the race. 'I've met with him privately and now I'm telling everyone publicly, if Mitt Romney wasn't your favorite candidate for the Republican nomination, get over it! We need unity to take back the White House, the Senate and keep control of the House of Representatives,' Cain wrote in a statement... In January, after teasing an 'unconventional endorsement' in the GOP presidential race, Cain came out in support of 'the people,' saying it was the beginning of a political revolution... Later in January, Cain announced he was endorsing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ahead of Florida's closely watched GOP primary. At the time, Cain praised Gingrich's "bold ideas" as the basis for his choice, saying Gingrich wasn't afraid to propose big ideas that would benefit the nation, even if they invited the ridicule of his rivals." [CNN]

OLIVE PIT 1, KUCINICH 0 - Amanda Terkel: "Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) will not run for Congress in Washington state in 2012, telling his supporters in an email on Wednesday that his service in the U.S. House of Representatives will end on Jan. 2, 2013. The eight-term congressman lost his reelection bid in a March primary to fellow Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), after their seats were combined under redistricting. For months, there had been speculation that Kucinich would move to Washington state and run for Congress there. On Wednesday, however, he said he would not pursue that option. The filing deadline to run in the state is May 18. 'After careful consideration and discussions with [my wife] Elizabeth and my closest friends, I have decided that, at this time, I can best serve from outside the Congress.'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Just stay in the box, Mr. Puff. Trust us: you're not missing anything important.

OBAMA REMINDS WASHINGTON YUPPIES THAT HE IS A WASHINGTON YUPPIE - This is only going to make U Street/14th Street even more annoying and feel even more like Clarendon was transported to downtown Washington . Thanks, Mr. President! Michael Grass: "Wednesday morning, there was unconfirmed chatter about an unusually high level of security at Taylor Gourmet's 14th Street NW location, near the bustling U Street corridor roughly 13 blocks north of the White House. The White House later confirmed the visit, noting that the president wasn't paying a casual visit to the highly regarded sandwich spot. According to the White House pool report, Karen Mills, the administrator of the Small Business Administration, joined the president for his visit, where they were joined by Taylor Gourmet co-owners Casey Patten and David Mazza, Yes! Organic Market President Kathy Rachels and Brian Smith, founding principal of Francis Lee Contracting." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- The Battleship movie has some competition. [http://bit.ly/KbvDfL]

- "Zuckerberg: The Musical" [http://bit.ly/KbyFAF]

- Pizza Hut's new food thing to stuff in your face. [http://bit.ly/KbqjsQ]

- Gilbert Gottfried reads excerpts of Fifty Shades of Grey. [http://bit.ly/KbBTnK]

- Earth as seen from a geostationary orbit. [http://bit.ly/KbCmGO]

- Well, that's gauche. [http://bit.ly/KbxZvh]

- Brad Pitt Eating Things [dot tumblr dot com]

TWITTERAMA

@mkady: Breaking news from the Senate: Everyone rejects everyone else's budget in staged votes designed for campaign ads.

@NickBaumann: More like commune-ism! RT @pemalevy: Watch Joe Biden passionately commune with Ohio workers: bit.ly/KyRCQP

@dceiver: The best part of @jonward11's collection of primary posters is the autographed Thad McCot: instagr.am/p/Ksk5hOgHRy/

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

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]

6:30pm: It's an Evening of Celtic Chefs! Shepherd's pie! Corned beef and cabbage! Jameson! Woot woot! [525 New Jersey Ave, NW]

TOMORROW

12:00pm: Pop quiz: Having a free lunch today requires that you learn about A) childhood lead poisonings, B) photos of arthritis in old people's joints, of C) how great the asbestos industry is? If you answered B, you've just won yourself a free lunch. [Rayburn B340]

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