HUFFPOST HILL - Congress Postpones Fight So It Can Fight

07/31/2012 05:39 pm ET | Updated Sep 30, 2012

President Obama donated $5,000 to his campaign, which should be enough to land him an autographed photo of President Obama. A poll finds that most Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the political media, results we doubt John King will dissect on his big board. And Tom Coburn sincerely apologized for calling Harry Reid "incompetent." He will now go back to just saying his policies will lead hundreds of millions of Americans to financial ruin. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, July 31st, 2012:

CONGRESS AGREES TO FUND GOVERNMENT FOR ANOTHER SIX MONTHS - Which is well past the Mayan apocalypse. Man, Congress really needs to curb the needless spending! Mike McAuliff: 'A proposed continuing resolution could be passed when Congress returns from its summer break in September, and is intended to carry through until the end of March, when the budget would be taken up by the next Congress. The measure is expected to maintain something close to the funding levels agreed upon last summer in the Budget Control Act, although some Republicans had hoped to cut more...with the elections coming just a month after the money runs out, both sides seem to have thought better of a high-stakes confrontation. They are already dueling over the looming "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year, when expiring tax cuts and mandatory budget reductions, enacted during last summer's debt showdown, go into effect.' [HuffPost]

HOUSE VOTES ON DC ABORTION RIGHTS - It won't go anywhere, because tonight's vote on whether to forbid women in the District from terminating their pregnancies after 20 weeks is being held in suspension, which requires a two-thirds vote for passage. After the vote, Republicans will continue getting government out of our lives.

POST OFFICE IS BROKE - At midnight Wednesday, the U.S. Postal Service is expected to default on a multi-billion dollar payment owed to the Treasury, highlighting financial strugglesthat could affect not only mail service but hundreds of thousands of jobs. The agency's failure to make good on a $5.5 billion payment toward retiree health benefits comes as no surprise, and the default won't have any immediate effects on the postal service's day-to-day operations, the agency assured in a statement. But the missed payment -- reportedly the first of its kind in the post office's history -- will no doubt ramp up the debate over how best to address the agency's growing red ink. [HuffPost]

INTERNET COMMENT SECTIONS ARE DANGEROUS - A North Carolina state representative is resigning from office following an eight-count criminal indictment by a federal grand jury. His own comments on a Huffington Post story may have hastened his downfall. It's a little complicated, but the story's got Faberge eggs and an ice rink called Bladez on Ice... and an elected official who left more than 100 comments on our site. [HuffPost]

PSLGOPL TAKES ON THE DEMOCRATS, 'WAGNER, MAX! WAGNER!' EDITION - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist is disappointed in Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who in a fundraising solicitation wrote, "With 98 days to go, Mitt Romney holds a closed-door fundraiser in Jerusalem with Las Vegas casino magnate and super PAC sugar daddy, Sheldon Adelson." PSLGOPL found the "closed-door fundraiser in Jerusalem" part to be incendiary and sent us this message via the pneumatic tube network that connects his underground bunker to the outside world: "Where is Abe Foxman?" Thanks, PSLGOPL!

WAR BETWEEN THE STATES UPDATE - Sabrina Siddiqui: "Richard Mourdock, who is fond of comparing modern politics to the Civil War era, said Tuesday that he does it because he is a 'history buff.' And he also thinks it's an apt comparison. During his victorious Republican primary fight against Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, Mourdock, the state treasurer now seeking a Senate seat, argued that the modern-day battle over taxes reminded him of Abraham Lincoln's fears about slavery. Mourdock seemed to put the poor in the role of the slaveholders. Just last week, Mourdock compared President Barack Obama's rescue of Chrysler to slavery, saying the deal stiffed creditors -- including Indiana's pension system -- and that it was like the slavery Lincoln opposed because it involved taking from one person and giving to another. [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Several states have slashed their unemployment insurance programs in the past couple years, with lawmakers saying they need to pay out less in benefits so they can avert business tax hikes and repay federal loans. Why? A comprehensive report by the National Employment Law Project's Mike Evangelist finds that states have their own dumb selves, and not just the Great Recession, to blame for their strained unemployment trust funds. "Thirty-one states reduced UI taxes by at least 20 percent between 1995 and 2005," Evangelist wrote. "And during the decade from 2000‐2009, average UI contribution rates were only 0.65% of total wages, the lowest in the life of our federal-state UI program, breaking the decade record low of 0.76% set in the 1990s. These decades also featured low rankings for overall solvency, although the 1980s had the lowest overall solvency by decade." [NELP (PDF)]

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MODERATE REPUBLICAN FEELS ISOLATED, QUITS... ALSO GREEN AND RED MAKE YELLOW AND SQUARES HAVE FOUR SIDES - Ohio Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette announced his retirement yesterday. Tourette is an endangered creature: a semi-moderate Republican who isn't entirely hostile to unions -- which is a bit like living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and having a Sam's Club membership. "I have reached the conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground," he told reporters today, also implicitly conceding his tremendously poor pattern recognition skills in the process. He added that he was put off by the recent transportation funding fight. "We're talking about about building roads and bridges for Chrissakes," he exclaimed. Some poor senior associate or junior partner on K Street is about to lose their office. [WaPo]

@dcbigjohn: David Axelrod is in the Senate to meet with Democrats at their weekly lunch

Politico on the machinations behind LaTourette's decision: "LaTourette's political isolation within the party was at odds with his ambition within the House Republican Conference. He wanted to resume his place toward the top of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, according to several GOP aides...LaTourette gave up his spot on the Transportation Committee in 2009, when he took a spot on Appropriations. But in recent months, as Congress struggled to pass a highway bill, his desire to resume his transportation work became clear to Capitol Hill insiders. Last week, LaTourette saw an opening to make a play for chairman. The Steering Committee -- which makes decisions on committee assignments for Republicans -- shuffled Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) off the committee to a vacant spot on Financial Services. LaTourette thought it was his time. But the writing was on the wall for LaTourette: His main rival, Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster, had a hammerlock on the votes needed to win the chairmanship. The steering panel's decision will be made official at the House Republican Conference meeting Wednesday." [Politico]

Also, you know what a retired member of Congress gets? Giant piles of money for life.

HARRY REID ALLEGES (SORT OF) ROMNEY DIDN'T PAY TAXES FOR A DECADE - The Senate Majority Leader says a Bain investor relayed the news to him...so, yeah. "He didn't pay taxes for ten years! Now, do I know that that's true? Well I'm not certain. But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?" Reid said. "You guys have said his wealth is $250 million -- not a chance in the world. It's a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don't pay taxes for 10 years when you're making millions and millions of dollars." If this is a move intended to force Romney to disprove the allegations by releasing his returns, Reid should've aimed higher, insisting he was told that Romney has extensive holdings in whaling companies or barrels of blood diamonds stashed away in Pyongyang Savings and Loan. Go big or go home, dude. [HuffPost's Sam Stein and Grim]

Apparently "incompetent" is a four-letter word in the U.S. Senate. Tom Coburn apologized to Harry Reid last night for dropping the i-bomb during an earlier criticism of the majority leader. Reid, Coburn said last week, is "incompetent and incapable of carrying on the leadership in the Senate." Reid used the opportunity to non-insult insult Coburn during an interview with HuffPost: "I said, 'Uh, Dr. Coburn, you know I -- you have given me a lot of trouble, but I would never, ever say anything about you, even though I think what you do is absolutely wrong, what you've done to hurt the country. Why would you say anything like that?'" Coburn apologized: "I used words that were inappropriate in describing [Reid's] actions in the Senate, and for that, I offer a public apology." Conclusion: The Senate is weird! [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]

Reid responds to Coburn, via Mike McAuliff: "Well, something's better than nothing, I guess."

SAN ANTONIO MAYOR TAPPED AS DNC KEYNOTE SPEAKER - There had been some speculation that the honor would go to Elizabeth Warren, whose progressive bona fides would no doubt invigorate voters in battleground locales like Massachusetts, Washington State and the Columbus Circle Dean and Deluca. However the Democratic party has gone another way, giving the responsibility to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, presumably to appeal to Hispanic voters in actual battleground states like Nevada, Virginia and Colorado (and Arizona if you're feeling generous). Castro, 37, will be the first Hispanic keynote speaker at a Democratic convention and his youth and charisma will undoubtedly draw comparisons to President Obama's 2004 keynote address. "As mayor, Julian Castro has worked tirelessly to move San Antonio forward by building its economy from the middle out, not the top down, by putting the city on a path to being a leader in the new energy economy and making innovative investments in education to prepare San Antonio's students for the jobs of the future," L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is chairing the convention, said in a statement. [HuffPost]

Villaraigosa told Yahoo News that he doesn't want to be president but does harbor ambitions to be governor of California. Given his history of marital infidelity, he certainly fits the bill. "The job I've said to people I would like is I would like to be governor of the state of California," he said when queried about a White House run. [Yahoo News]
@reidepstein: Jay Carney: "There's not an inch of Ohio that the president does not love to visit."

ELECTION MONITORING AGENCY LEADERLESS - The Election Assistance Commission, founded after the FUBAR-tastic 2000 election, is supposed to be directed by four commissioners but currently there are none. In this age of EXCESSIVE GOVERNMENT INTRUSION, shouldn't we celebrate the fact that our government is getting out of elections? Apparently not. Froomkin: "The last executive director resigned in November, and the commissioners must vote to appoint a new one. President Barack Obama nominated two new Democratic commissioners last year, but congressional Republicans are trying to defund the agency entirely -- which means for now no Republican nominations and no confirmation of the Democrats' candidates...The commission's staff continues to serve as a clearinghouse for information to the public and election officials, and tests and certifies voting machines, but is limited in what it can do going forward. Without commissioners, the EAC can't adopt new policies, issue formal advisory opinions or update regulations." [HuffPost]

CHARACTER ASSASSINATION HELPS MICHELE BACHMANN WIN THE DAY - The Minnesota congresswoman has seen a spike in political contributions since she accused Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of participating in a supposed Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government ("Hey, Bob, did you see this memo about how Flex Fridays are being replaced with Death to Infidels Tuesdays?"). Between July 1st and July 25th, a Bachmann campaign representative says the lawmaker received between $1 million and $1.1 million. Sure, that money could've gone toward afterschool programs in some beleaguered school district but, no... it's doing this. [HuffPost's Luke Johnson]

OBAMA AND ROMNEY CAMPAIGNS RELEASE DUELING SMARTPHONE APPS - If you ask us, they just should've struck a deal with Uber to have the car service app flash factoids on the screen while you watch the cab icon inch toward your location. Alas, they went in other directions. Ethan Klapper: The app released by Romney's campaign, 'Mitt's VP,' focuses on the former Massachusetts governor's imminent vice presidential pick. Users who download the app are prompted to enter personal information: name, email, address, zip code and, optionally, their mobile phone number. An account on MittRomney.com is automatically created, and users are simply presented with a screen that says 'Coming Soon' and promises that the app will inform users of Romney's VP pick 'before the press and just about everyone else (except maybe Ann).'... The new app, simply called 'Obama' like the first, does not require an initial sign-up. What it does ask is permission to use a smartphone's GPS device. Using that location data, the app shares how Obama's policies affect the user's area. It also shares information about voting in said area and displays a list of local events. One notable feature of the app is its integration with the Obama campaign's new web-based grassroots organizing tool, Dashboard. Dashboard allows supporters to make calls, canvass their neighbors and attend local organizing events, among other things." [HuffPost]

President Obama announced via email that he donated $5,000 to his own campaign, the maximum amount allowed under law. The money should hopefully cover the bandwidth and energy required to send out the message and man hours spent strategizing when to make the donation. Sam Stein: "Coming on the last day of the month, Obama's personal donation... is meant to encourage other Democrats to open their wallets and either begin or accelerate their own giving. His decision to go online to donate was hardly coincidental; it was meant to underscore the grassroots theme of the campaign. The size of the donation is symbolic as well. While Obama gave $5,000 to his reelection effort, Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, jointly contributed $150,000 to the Romney Victory Fund in May." [HuffPost]

You hate us: A Daily Kos/SEIU poll finds that 78 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the political media.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - All of American history has simply been a prelude to this Delorean monster truck.

GINGRICH WARNS OF E-ZEUS'S FURY - HuffPost DC:"Some young conservatives heard an apocalyptic warning Tuesday morning from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich when the conservative Republican told a right-wing student conference that the massive power outages following the powerful June 29 derecho storm gave a taste of what a devastating 'electromagnetic pulse attack' would be like." [HuffPost]


- Kid attacks other kids with impromptu trust falls, testing their fight or flight or trust mechanisms. [http://bit.ly/Ojt8dO]

- Photographs of olympic divers mid-dive. Yikes. [http://bit.ly/NSNtW8]

- 360 degree time lapse movie of the night sky. Look at all 'em stars.[http://bit.ly/NGoCtO]

- "Gangnam Style" is the South Korean rap video of the moment. [http://gaw.kr/NgcKZL]

- Dancing poodle seems to take its left-to-right-to-left moves from President Obama. [http://bit.ly/MZgSQq]

- A group of people dressed up as zombies and ambled around New York City, making it the 523,495th weirdest thing to happen in the city on that day. [http://bit.ly/PkkISs]

- The internet digs deep: "11 Classic Movie Scenes as Ottoman Motifs" [http://bit.ly/PkE6i2]


@anamariecox: Well, no one got punched RT @jimacostacnn: Romney adviser Stuart Stevens on the overseas trip moments ago: "I think it was a great success"

@delrayser: GAH STOP. RT @kristoncapps "Tonight, [REDACTED] will lead the [REDACTED] to gold, only on NBC!" Network ads are now embracing the fail.

@anniekarni: U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney sounds like an Aaron Sorkin character who got lose.



6:30 pm: M-I-$-$-I-$-$-I-P-P-I!!! Roger Wicker raises money for his easily pronounceable RFWPAC. [Central, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW]


8:00 am - 9:00 am: Ben Cardin tries to prove to coax his supporters with schmear at his "Bagels with Ben" fundraiser. Any opportunity to use the word "schmear" is highly valued here. [Erickson Townhouse, 38 Ivy Street SE]

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: What's the first thing that springs to mind when Adam Schiff's name is mentioned? If you said "authentic Korean barbecue," then you're correct! The California Democrat hosts a "Summertime Reception" featuring meat products prepared in the Korean fashion. [Erickson Townhouse, 38 Ivy Street SE]

7:00 pm: If someone damages something at Michael Fitzpatrick's insurance industry fundraiser, will one of the attendees be able to make an assessment on the spot? Just curious. [Fiola Ristoranta, 601 Pennsylvania NW]

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