POLITICS
08/16/2012 05:49 pm ET Updated Oct 16, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Felt-Tip Pen Endorses Ryan Plan

Rick Santorum shamed Catholics who benefit from Obamacare but stopped short of telling children they'll grow hair on their palms if they stay on their parents' health plans. Mitt Romney explained his health care policies on a whiteboard, which is a rectangular object used for impermanent drawing and writing ... y'know, like an Etch-a-Sketch. And Americans learned a valuable lesson about expectations when a fantastically rich business executive announced he only paid 13 percent in federal taxes and, satisfied by that news, everyone moved on. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, August, 16th, 2012:

PROGRAMMING NOTE: No HuffPost Hill tomorrow. We'll be out noodling for Paul Ryan's Rosebud, which evidence suggests is either A) a lacrosse stick, B) a model ship, or C) the exhumed bones of Austrian economist Eugen Bohm von Bawerk.

PAUL RYAN'S BRIDGE TO NOWHERE BUS STATION TO A GREAT MANY PLACES - When Paul Ryan declared emphatically that his Wisconsin veins run with cheese and bratwurst, he really wasn't kidding about that last part because this dude loves pork (unless of course the brats are venison-based, in which case the brat's production process began when Ryan pulled a trigger that flung a bow through a doe's heart). Jason Cherkis: "As far back as 2004, city leaders in Janesville, Wis., Rep. Paul Ryan's (R) hometown, believed that their public bus system needed a new transit center...[City Transit Director David] Mumma says he and the then-city manager met with the congressman to ask him to seek federal funds...A few years after the bus study, Ryan received a $735,000 earmark for the bus center. At the same time, Ryan pushed for earmark reform -- including strengthening transparency rules and supporting legislation that would cut out links between earmarks and campaign contributions. By 2008, he was calling for a moratorium on earmark spending and continued to affirm his stance... The problem with his earmark was that it wasn't big enough. It didn't come close to covering the new transit center's $6 to $7 million price tag. Ryan ended up lobbying for more funds by writing letters to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2011 and 2012." There you have it. Ryan tried to better his constituents' lives by promoting investment in infrastructure. He's finished. [HuffPost]

Despite reports from the AP, the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal that Ryan sought stimulus funds, the vice presidential candidate denied he requested any. "No, I never asked for stimulus," he replied when asked during a television interview on Cincinnati's WCPO. Alex Becker: "Ryan's statement directly counters the evidence of four letters obtained by the AP which the congressman wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, praising energy programs supported by the stimulus and requesting funds for initiatives in his district. Ryan's private praise for Department of Energy programs and his written requests for stimulus funds contradict not only his public criticism of the 2009 stimulus bill, but also many of the budget priorities he has laid out, including cuts to investments in green technologies." [HuffPost]

@hillhulse: Hearing Van Hollen is top pick to play Paul Ryan in Biden debate prep. Senior Dem on budget comittee knows Ryan and his plan

ROMNEY NARROWS GAP IN WISCONSIN - Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Wisconsin, which President Barack Obama won by 13 points in 2008, is looking like an increasingly close contest in 2012, according to a poll released Thursday afternoon by CNN/ORC International. The poll shows Obama 4 points ahead of GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, 49 percent to 45 percent. Another poll, conducted Wednesday by Rasmussen, showed Romney edging ahead, 48 percent to 47 percent." [HuffPost]

The Onion: "'Huffington Post' Launches Some Sort Of New Thing
"

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The unemployment insurance rolls are declining faster than the population of unemployed people. Eric Morath: "A federal unemployment program that provided weekly benefits to more than 1 million Americans less than two years ago has virtually disappeared as the last eligible state, Idaho, came off the rolls last week. Federal-State Extended Benefits program, which keeps checks flowing for up to 20 weeks after other jobless compensation ends, had a mere 5,223 participants the week ended July 28, according to Labor Department data released Thursday. That's down from a recent peak of 1.03 million participants in October 2010." [Wall Street Journal]

RIP Peter Bis - You were crazy, but you were nice and everybody liked you. Emily Cahn: "Peter Bis, a homeless man known by the Capitol Hill community for his friendly hellos and 'no skinny dipping' quips from his perch under a tree on the corner of Second Street and Massachusetts Avenue Northeast, died early this morning. Bis was a familiar figure on the Senate side of the Capitol Hill neighborhood." [Roll Call]

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

ROMNEY GOES ALL IN ON RYAN PLAN - Rather than equivocate awkwardly about his running mate's boldness or his excitement about the ideas Paul Ryan will bring to the White House -- and, by the way, have you noticed the president is running the economy into the ground? -- Mitt Romney took a hearty swig of Ryanbrau today. Luke Johnson: "Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney said Wednesday his Medicare plan was "close to identical" to that of his vice-presidential choice, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), marking a full public embrace of the proposal from which his campaign initially sought to distance itself. 'Actually, Paul Ryan and my plan for Medicare, I think, is the same, if not identical -- it's probably close to identical,' he told Green Bay station WBAY. Ryan, as a House member, in 2011 proposed shifting Medicare entirely to a voucher-like system, then tweaked the proposal in 2012 to offer traditional Medicare alongside private plans. 'Our plan is, for people 55 years of age and older, there's no change. The only change I'd mention for 55 or older is we'd restore the $817 billion President Obama took out of the Medicare trust fund,' said Romney. Romney initially misstated the Congressional Budget Office's estimate of the cost increase -- $716 billion -- that a repeal of the Obama health care law would entail for Medicare over 10 years. That reduction doesn't come from patient care, but changes in hospital payments and Medicare Advantage payments to private insurers." [HuffPost]

HOUSE GOP BADGERED BY THE POTENTIALLY MEDICINE-LESS - Earlier this week, GOP leadership convened a conference call for its rank-and-file members, during which we would love nothing more to be inside John Boehner's head as his people drone on. On this particular call, the topic of conversation was how amazing Paul Ryan is, but, oh, by the way, he's really killing us with this damn Medicare thing. Nearly every person who spoke, said a source on the call, complained that they were getting hammered at home on Medicare, pleading with leadership to figure a way out of the political jam. Each complainant hastened to add that, of course, Paul Ryan is brave and virtuous, and really smart.

Fans of impermanence and squeaking will be pleased to know that Romney used a whiteboard to demonstrate the differences between his plan for Medicare and President Obama's

@kenvogel: Ha! @NBCNews VP @VivianSchiller was "karaoke singing partner" of Tim Geithner, invited him to appear on NPR's @WaitWait http://t.co/9y5rLILN

Ryan went attack dog today by claiming China wants to rub its feet on President Obama's face (sort of...). Sabrina Siddiqui: "Paul Ryan went after President Barack Obama's trade enforcement record with China on Thursday, telling a crowd of over 1,000 supporters in Ohio that China is treating the president 'like a doormat.' 'Free trade is a powerful tool for peace and prosperity, but our trading partners need to play by the rules,' Ryan said at a campaign rally in North Canton. 'This challenge focuses on China. They steal our intellectual property rights, they block access to their markets, they manipulate their currency.'" Who among us didn't have that weird neighbor with the "Favorable Yields" welcome mat? [HuffPost]

ROMNEY'S TAX RATE, PART 673,119 - The presumptive Republican presidential nominee was asked today about Harry Reid's claim that he GE'd for a decade by not paying any taxes. Currently the debate stands at "Senior Bain Investor" versus "I went back and checked." We report. You decide. Sam Stein: "Mitt Romney said on Thursday that he has paid at least a 13 percent tax rate every year for the past 10 years, directly rebukingan allegation by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he paid effectively nothing in income taxes during that time period.... 'But I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year. Harry Reid's charge is totally false.'...The comments closed the loop on a promise Romney made several weeks ago to ABC News to go back and check if there had ever been a year in which he had paid an individual income tax rate lower than 13.9 percent... Democrats were quick to demand that Romney actually prove he paid a rate above 13 percent by making one or several years' worth of tax returns public." [HuffPost]

A Reid spokesperson responds: "We'll believe it when we see it. Until Mitt Romney releases his tax returns, Americans will continue to wonder what he's hiding."

RICK SANTORUM: DRY JESUS' TEARS, STOP USING OBAMACARE - During a Romney campaign event today in Ohio, Rick Santorum insisted that Catholics who benefit from Obamacare will have to repent to their priests, though it's not entirely clear whether voting for President Obama warrants a church visit or if muttering a few Hail Marys to yourself will suffice. This is precisely why we can't wait any longer for a Third Vatican Council. "He is going to tell you what to do in the practice of your faith. He is forcing business people right now to do things that are against their conscience, that they will have to -- if you're a Catholic -- you'll have to go to confession ... to confess that you are complying with a government program that is a sin in the Catholic Church." [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

OhmygodObamaandRomneyaresoooooboringletstalkaboutsomethingelse. Public Policy Polling: "Democrats in [New Hampshire] want Hillary Clinton as their nominee [in 2016]. 91% have a favorable opinion of her to only 6% with a negative one. Given a long list of potential 2016 candidates 55% say Clinton is their top choice to 9% for Joe Biden, 8% for Elizabeth Warren, 6% for Andrew Cuomo, 3% for Deval Patrick, 1% for Martin O'Malley, and less than 1% for Brian Schweitzer and Mark Warner...Chris Christie is the top choice on the Republican side with 24% to 15% for Jeb Bush, 12% each for Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio, 10% for Rand Paul, 8% for Paul Ryan, 7% each for Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum, and 3% for Walker." [PPP]

STRIP CLUBS PREPARING FOR ONSLAUGHT OF CONVENTION LONELINESS - Craigslist ads soliciting anonymous one-night same-sex encounters aren't the only sexual boomlet witnessed during conventions, reports the Times: "One club, Skin Tampa, is advertising its proximity to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention will be held. 'Closest club to the R.N.C.!' exclaims a banner on the club's Web site, which also promises 'Free transportation and complimentary V.I.P. for R.N.C. Attendees and Press.'. 'We've had a couple of people ask and stop by and take a look at the club,' said the manager, Kristen Hubbell. 'We had one guy who said he was bringing a group of about a hundred.'" And you thought that $2,500-a-plate fundraiser was expensive, just wait until you check out the beer prices at that windowless place named "Shimmer" down the street. [NYT]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Kittens sleeping in a drawer.

COMFORT FOOD

- The history of LEGO, presented as an animated short. Finding Nemo it ain't but, hey, LEGOs, right? [http://bit.ly/OzUssL]

- Type "Why is [State name] so" into Google and here's what the search engine autocompletes, presented in map form. [http://bit.ly/P3ULvG]

- Shark Week, the drinking game. [http://bit.ly/N68o8j]

- Darwin you old such and such! Behold the next stage in K-9 evolution as this dog climbs a very tall fence. [http://bit.ly/THl0rd]

- Everything you could ever want or hope for from a Madonna-themed Bar Mitzvah. [http://bit.ly/Q3abeu]

- Puppies learning to play fetch. What more do you want? [http://bit.ly/RjPLVP]

- Like human beings in general, the brain produces waste. Here's how it takes out the trash. [http://bit.ly/NGunGH]

TWITTERAMA

@nickbaumann: Paul LePage is kind of the honey badger of Republican governors, no?

@daveweigel: Romney used a WHITEboard? Put y'all back in chains, indeed.

@aterkel: Bucket list! Check! MT @realDonaldTrump: HuffPost is such a loser--it will die just as AOL is dying, What a stupid deal AOL made to buy it!

ON TAP

Tomorrow: Because they both have to bide their time until 2016 -- and good lord you certainly aren't going to do it by governing or stuff, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker convene in the bayou for a roundtable discussion benefiting the Louisiana GOP. [Calcasieu Parish, LA]

Tomorrow evening: John McCain breaks escapes from one of his umteen-billion homes and, more significnalty, Arizona in summer, to attend a fundraiser for Denny Rehberg's Senate candidacy. Montana in Summer. That'd be nice. [Hilton Garden Inn, Great Falls, MT]

Saturday: Mitt Romney swings by the state he used to govern and will be resoundingly defeated in to enjoy the patronage of some of the Bay Staters who still like him in Nantucket, where all the mollusks are just the right size. [Nantucket, MA]

Sunday 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm: Congress' most taciturn and circumspect member Joe Walsh, earnestly makes his case for another term. So sheepish, that guy. [East Dundee, IL]

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