POLITICS
08/07/2012 06:10 pm ET | Updated Oct 07, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Romney's Welfare Wheels Keep On Turnin'


Papa John's CEO says Obamacare will increase the price of pizza, a development that would lead Americans, in the wise words of Herman Cain, to "imagine there's no pizza." On that note, Congress has become so rancorous that some of its members are engaged in a *literal* food fight. And Mitt Romney declared that America is not a kibbutz, dashing the hopes of those who'd hoped a Romney White House would include a chicken coop and communal breastfeeding station. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, August 7th, 2012:

PRESIDENT SIGNS THE 'YEP, SEQUESTRATION IS REAL' ACT - The commander-in-chief today signed a bipartisan measure that requires the White House to detail how it will achieve the first round of budget cuts mandated by last year's debt deal. The Hill: "The administration must issue its report to Congress in 30 days. The report will come close to the election and could focus the debate on the ballooning deficit and looming cuts to defense -- two themes Mitt Romney has been emphasizing in his campaign against Obama...Last week, Republicans began to pound Obama for not signing the transparency law, which was sponsored by House GOP conference head Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), who had served on the supercommittee." [The Hill]

Mitt Romney declared today that America is not a kibbutz. Seriously. "A kibbutz." He used those words. The Republican presidential aspirant made the comments during a fundraiser in Chicago while discussing how much he hates sing-a-longs with heavy tamborine accompaniment, lemon picking and chore wheels entrepreneurship. "What America is not a collective where we all work in a Kibbutz," he said. "Instead it's individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises." [HuffPost's Luke Johnson]

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST HAS HIS LIMITS - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist -- who's been trying for months now to get his "In Treatment" DVD box set back from Tucker Carlson -- is distraught by news that David Plouffe was paid $100,000 to speak to members of a South African phone company that does business with Iran. "I honestly don't think I would've accepted the Iranian speaking engagement money," PSLGOPL said, kinda surprisingly. "I say this without irony or sarcasm. May be the truest thing I've ever said to you guys." Thanks, PSLGOPL!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Courtesy Bonnie Kavoussi, a bleak news item about penniless death. "Nearly one in two Americans -- 46 percent -- die 'with virtually no financial assets,' or less than $10,000, according to a recent study by economics professors at MIT, Dartmouth and Harvard. In fact, 19 percent of Americans die with 'zero' financial assets, the study found." [HuffPost]

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ROMNEY CONJURES GHOSTS OF WELFARE REFORM - In both a television ad unveiled today and in a conference call held by campaign advisors this morning, team Romney insisted that President Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to soften the welfare reforms instituted during the Clinton presidency -- changes it says would lead to unemployed people being about as productive as employed people during the Olympics. NBC News: "The charge is based on a July 12 memo issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, in which HHS said it would consider approving waivers for states seeking more flexibility in implementing welfare reform, officially known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF... But does the memo do what the Romney campaign charges -- that it guts welfare reform, gets rid of work requirements entirely, and would 'just send you your welfare check'? Not exactly... [A] state would have to offer an alternative program similar to the work requirements first put into place by the 1990s welfare reform law in order to receive the waiver." [NBC News]

Romney supported the welfare policy as governor. The Republican Governors Association asked Congress for even broader welfare waivers in 2005, in a letter signed by 29 Republican governors, including Romney. [HuffPost]

Also, the Obama campaign reminded us today that as governor, Romney gave free cars to welfare recipients.

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE HARRY REID UNDER SIEGE FROM MITT ROMNEY - That's right, right? There's no way that Mitt Romney would focus so much time and energy on someone that wasn't his opponent, thereby keeping the spotlight off of his real opponent, right? No? Elise Foley: "Mitt Romney once again told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to 'put up or shut up' about his taxes, telling Fox News Tuesday the Nevada senator had 'lost a lot of credibility' with his claim about the candidate's taxes...'I don't know who gave him this line of reasoning, whether it came from the White House or the DNC or a staffer, but he ought to say where it came from and then we can find out whether that person has any credibility. I know they don't because of course I paid.'" [HuffPost]

In a shocking twist today, a white guy name Willard engaged in a little wordplay involving the word "baloney." The Republican presidential candidate was on Fox News responding to the Obama Campaign's labeling of his tax plan as "Romney Hood." Well, two can play at that game. "We have been watching the president say a lot of things about me and my policies -- and they're just not right," Romney said. "And if I were to coin a term, it would be 'Obamaloney.'" Hoisted by their own petard! [HuffPost's Luke Johnson]

DRUDGE: ROMNEY CONSIDERING PETRAEUS FOR VP - The right-wing site also said that Condoleezza Rice was under serious consideration and that turned out to be bunk, but here's a snippet nonetheless: "President Obama whispered to a top fundraiser this week that he believes GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wants to name Gen. David Petraeus to the VP slot! ... Romney is believed to have secretly met with the four-star general in New Hampshire. The pick could be a shrewd Romney choice. A cross-party pull. The Obama administration hailed Petraeus as one of history's greatest military strategists. Petraeus was unanimously confirmed as the Director of the CIA by the US Senate 94-0." [Drudge]

@ByronTau: Carney, on Obama and Petraeus: "I can say with absolute confidence that such an assertion has never been uttered by the president."

The GOP announced that it has added three big names to its list of convention speakers: Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum. We suspect that Bush will receive a much-heralded welcome -- he's still quite liked in Florida -- but as for Paul and Santorum... well... someone needs to inform the attendees about lost children and tell them where they can find the concession stand. Jon Ward with a better explanation: "Announcing Paul and Santorum one day after publicizing the first group of headliners looked like a way to try to mitigate the lumps that the GOP knows it will take from Democrats, who will likely use Paul's statements on fiscal policy and Santorum's past remarks on social policy to label the party as extreme." [HuffPost]

The Obama campaign is giving you the opportunity to lose terribly at basketball. National Journal: "The Obama campaign announced its latest fundraising contest on Tuesday: a chance to play basketball with Michael Jordan and other legends. 'Imagine shooting hoops with Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Ewing, Sheryl Swoopes, Kyrie Irving, and Alonzo Mourning,' Marlon Marshall, the campaign's Deputy National Field Director, wrote in an e-mail to supporters. 'Oh, and President Obama and Michael Jordan will be there, too.'" [National Journal]

CBC EMBROILED IN PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE FOOD DISPUTE - Want to know what the congressional version of ordering someone 100 pizza pies is? This: "A Democratic lawmaker says Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) offended the entire Congressional Black Caucus by delivering Chick-fil-A chicken and biscuits to their weekly meeting -- and then walking out -- when it was his turn to provide the group with a formal lunch. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) told The Huffington Post that the incident happened about six months ago but is now fresh in his mind given West's recent comments in support of the fast food chain, which is run by a well-known Christian and backer of anti-gay religious organizations. Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy last week sparked a nationwide response from gay rights activists after publicly denouncing marriage equality... Asked more specifically why lawmakers were insulted, Hastings said it was because they saw West's actions as making a statement in support of the conservative views held by Chick-fil-A leaders. West is the only Republican member of the caucus...The Democratic lawmaker said West hasn't been back to any CBC meetings since then." [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]

If Republicans want to be excited by the 2012 presidential contest Joe Walsh suggest they check out their opponent, you know, the exciting guy. Amanda Terkel: "Speaking to voters at an event in Carpentersville, Ill., on Aug. 4, Walsh said he frequently encounters Republicans who want Romney to be more emotional and more passionate. 'I say, don't look for Romney for your passion. Romney's a good, decent, smart man. I think he'll make a pretty good, decent, smart president. That's not where my passion comes from. You want to know what gets me worked up every single day? It's the guy in the White House! That's where my passion comes from. I respectfully want to remove him.'" [HuffPost]

AMERICA'S NEW PIZZA TOPPING: EXCESSIVE TAXES - A leading pizza executive (no, not him) insisted that Obamacare will raise the costs of pizza, but didn't specify whether that would extend to Domino's Oreo pizza or just your standard sauce-based pies. Politico: "Pizza chain Papa John's told shareholders that President Obama's health care law will cost consumers more on their pizza. On a conference call last week, CEO and founder John Schnatter (a Mitt Romney supporter and fundraiser) said the health care law's changes -- set to go into effect in 2014 -- will result in higher costs for the company -- which they vowed to pass onto consumers. 'Our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis,' Schnatter said." [Politico]

Unless Mitch Hedberg rises from the grave and starts making provocative comments about Sheldon Adelson, it doesn't get much weirder than this: "The upcoming movie 'The Campaign,' starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two buffoonish congressional contenders, takes aim at the powerful, Republican-aligned Koch brothers... 'Last we checked, the movie is a comedy. Maybe more to the point is that it's laughable to take political guidance or moral instruction from a guy who makes obscene gestures with a monkey on a bus in Bangkok,' [Koch] spokesman Philip Ellender said." [CBS News]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Tiny dog says "I love you." Or was it "Pie glove, fool!"? It's unclear.

REAL ESTATE PORN - HuffPost DC:"While it may not be the most exclusive neighborhood in the nation's capital, many people would kill to own a piece of the Dupont Circle real estate. It's within walking distance of downtown, U Street, 14th Street and Georgetown. It has a ton of distinctive architecture, great transit access and restaurants aplenty. We've pulled our favorite Realtor.com listings for this swanky neighborhood. " [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Child can't be bothered with kisses. [PUBLICATION]

- Here's the first color photo of the Martian landscape from the Curiosity rover. [http://bit.ly/NlCMvA]

- What starts off as an innocent-enough child's song about counting quickly becomes something far more... dark. [http://bit.ly/QbekgO]

- Gentleman is cool as a cucumber about almost being assassinated... also knows a suspicious amount about the murder-for-hire racket. [http://bit.ly/MtxSSr]

- One-hundred and thirty-one skydivers break the world record for simultaneous skydive. It looks like a flash mob... IN THE SKY. [http://bit.ly/RYXljh]

- "Judge Judy" plaintiff impersonating the defendant being inebriated... or possibly having a seizure. It's unclear. [http://bit.ly/TcAmDO]

- Cat, what have we told you about licking computer fans? [http://bit.ly/RxasfO]

TWITTERAMA

@AntDeRosa: Drudge is the boy who sirened wolf

@pourmecoffee: Would be exciting for Curiosity to unfurl enormous pirate flag and blast Wagner. Doubt it will happen.

@daveweigel: Re-animated corpse of Pol Pot. RT @CNNJustin: Who's the worst person Mitt Romney could pick to be his running mate? ow.ly/cNXkt

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Bobby Schilling is the beneficiary of a fundraiser hosted by Quad City Automobile Retailers -- whose events we can only assume feature a lot of ham cubs on toothpicks. Mike Kelly makes an appearance. [Silvis, IL]

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: National Journal celebrates its expanded Influence Alley blog with a D.C. meet-and-greet at the Pour House where attendees can nominate the most influential Hill staffers under 35. Interestingly enough, the Hill staffer under 35 named most influential is almost always named the most insufferable the following year. [Pour House, 319 Pennsylvania Ave SE]

TOMORROW

7:30 am: Scott Romney, brother of Mitt yet not endowed with the same Paulie-from-The-Sopranos-but-WASPier hair, co-hosts a fundraiser for his brother in Wisconsin. [Brookfield, WI]

5:00 pm: Tarryl Clark, a Democratic candidate looking to unseat freshman Chip Cravaack, solicits funds in the nicest, most Minnesotan way possible. [St. Louis Park, MN].

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

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