Huffpost Politics

HUFFPOST HILL - Desperate Romney Campaign Asks, 'Hey, Remember Our Politically Damaging Finances?'

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Joe Biden drew the highest TV ratings at the Charlotte convention, probably because he's the Democrat most likely to yell at a chair. The House passed the "Stop the War on Coal Act," which should hopefully put an end to those drone strikes on West Virginia (not that we declare war for those). And until today we thought the W. Mitt Romney Blind Trust was a ska/funk jam band, but Mitt Romney's tax returns fixed that. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, September 21st, 2012:

ROMNEY RELEASES 2011 TAX RETURNS, STATEMENTS OF HEALTH - We'll be focusing on the returns here, but rest assured Romney is up to date on all his RAM upgrades and his processor fan was recently Swiffered for dust. HuffPost: "Ahead of the disclosure, aides indicated that the Republican presidential contender earned" -- um, earned? anyway -- "nearly $13.7 million last year and paid an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, amounting to more than $1.9 million in taxes. The most unusual aspect of Romney's tax filing for 2011, based on the summary provided by his trustee, is that he and his wife chose not to deduct all of their charitable contributions -- a decision that led to them paying a higher effective tax rate. Romney in August declared that he had paid at least 13 percent in taxes over the past decade. Had he deducted all of his $4 million in charitable donations, his tax rate would have fallen below that figure." [HuffPost]

@anamariecox: "Mitt Romney says that if he paid more taxes than were required, he wouldn't be qualified to be president." huff.to/P6G5GH

From The Atlantic: 'A Vigorous Man': A Poem Composed of Excerpts From Mitt Romney's Doctor's Note

@zachdcarter: Romney took a $39.00 deduction for "casualty or theft" in his 2011 tax return.

ROMNEY CAN HAZ THAT MONEY BACK - The difference between his charitable giving of more than $4 million and his claimed deductions of $2.25 million inflated Romney's tax bill by several hundred thousand dollars, as he paid taxes he didn't have to on nearly two million dollars. Luckily for Romney, after the election he can recoup that money. If the American people reject him at the polls in November -- and even if they don't -- Romney would be fully within his legal rights to file an amended return, requiring the Treasury to cut him a substantial check. [HuffPost]

REID WASN'T NECESSARILY WRONG - Romney defenders -- yes, there are actually still a few around -- were quick to point to a letter released today from PwC avowing that there has been no year since 1999 that Romney paid $0 in taxes. Ok, so he paid something. But we have no idea how much. Guess it depends on your definition of nothing. As Reid said earlier, "His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son," in reference to George Romney's standard-setting decision to turn over 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president in 1968.

REPUBLICANS UPSET WITH ROMNEY'S USE OF PAUL RYAN - Politico: "Instead of Ryanizing Romney, the congressman's supporters fear just the opposite has happened.... Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told radio host Charlie Sykes on Friday that he is bewildered by the way things have gone since Ryan was picked. 'I thought (picking Ryan) was a signal that this guy (Romney) was getting serious, he's getting bold, it's not necessarily even a frustration over the way Paul Ryan's been used but rather in the larger context. I just haven't seen that kind of passion I know Paul has transferred over to our nominee, and I think it's a little bit of push-back from the folks in the national campaign. But I think for him to win he's gotta (do) that.'... Added Florida Rep. Allen West: 'I will tell you I haven't seen him be as visible as maybe I thought he would be.'" [Politico]

Ann Romney's plane made an emergency landing today when it exacerbated our fear of flying caught fire. AP: "The plane carrying the wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is making an emergency landing. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Ann Romney's plane made an unexpected landing on Friday afternoon in Colorado after it filled with smoke. Saul says no one was injured in the incident."

PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST: 'TIS BETTER TO GLOAT THAN TO RECEIVE - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist -- whose tax returns are with him at all times, handcuffed to his wrist in a stainless steel briefcase -- was heartened by Mitt Romney's tax returns. "Four million to charity!" PSLGOPL wrote. "I bet Arianna wasn't as generous. I'd bet my rolodex my campaign donations AND my Gucci loafers you three knuckleheads weren't either (on a percentage basis)." Thanks, PSLGOPL! We weren't. But we don't have unrealized gains we harvested from previously thriving companies we can give away for tax purposes.

HuffPost Hiccup: Yesterday we wrote that Tim Kaine supports an extension of all the Bush tax cuts. That elicited a sternly-worded "Price is Right" fail horn from the Kaine campaign. Kaine actually supports extending the cuts only for incomes below $500,000. We regret the fail.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - God this is horrible. Kate Bindley: "A new survey has found that hiring managers and recruiters believe it is easier to place a candidate who has a job -- but who also has a criminal record -- than a person who has been unemployed for more than two years." Have a bad weekend. [HuffPost]

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

HOUSE PASSES BILL TO MAKE NATURE CRY, THEN LEAVES - The lower chamber today passed its final bill before the general election, the "Stop The War On Coal Act." Aside from further diminishing the forcefulness of the word "war" and hastening the need to replace it (our suggestion: "kaboom bouquet"), the measure basically wet willies Mother Earth. Jen Bendery: "Despite its title, the bill isn't just about the coal industry: it repackages four previously passed House GOP bills, plus adds in another one, aimed at blocking carbon pollution standards. Specifically, the package would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency's clean car standards, nullify the EPA's mercury and air toxic standards, weaken the Clean Water Act and block efforts to reduce damage from coal mining. The bill already has a White House veto threat on it, and there's no chance it would move in the Senate, but Republicans went ahead and passed it anyway." [HuffPost]

John Boehner sided with the more conservative members of his conference today, saying he wouldn't vote to raise taxes on the wealthy if President Obama is reelected. Amanda Terkel: "At a press conference Friday morning, a reporter asked Boehner whether Republicans were "eventually going to have to raise taxes in some way" if the president wins in November. 'No,' replied Boehner. "Raising taxes, according to Ernst and Young, would threaten our economy with a loss of 700,000 jobs. Now why would I ever be for something like that? I'm not.' Boehner's stand-firm stance is not shared by all of his caucus. According to the Washington Post, 'senior Republicans in the House and the Senate' admit that if the president is reelected, he will have leverage to push for allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on income above $250,000." [HuffPost]

PAUL RYAN BOOED AT AARP - The Republican vice presidential candidate, who will forever be the person who springs to our mind when an old lady says "such a good boy," was met with considerable hostility today when he addressed the senior citizen organization. "He was soundly booed on a number of occasions," attendee Lynn Pierle, who joined in the booing, told HPH. When Ryan came on stage, following Obama on the screen, about half the crowd walked out. Luke Johnson: "Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was booed by the audience while pledging to repeal Obamacare at AARP's annual conference Friday in New Orleans. 'The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal Obamacare, because it represents the worst of both worlds: It weakens Medicare for today's seniors and puts it at risk for the next generation,' said Ryan, drawing boos from the audience. Speaking about the cut in the rate of growth for future Medicare spending, Ryan said, 'The money wasn't walled off to stay in Medicare. Instead, the law turned Medicare into a piggy bank for Obamacare.' That earned louder boos. 'You don't have to take my word for it, you don't have to take my word for it,' Ryan pleaded." [HuffPost]

Also speaking at AARP, President Obama mildly endorsed a Harkin-Grassley bill to undo a recent Supreme Court decision that made it hard for workers to win age discrimination lawsuits. "In some cases, part of what we're trying to do is to see if we legislatively can overturn some bad Supreme Court rulings that have made it harder to prove age discrimination," Obama said.

OBAMA SUPER PAC BEATS GOP CONSERVATIVE COUNTERPARTS FOR THE FIRST TIME - First the Nationals clinch a playoff berth, now this?! CNN should ready itself for a totally unexplained boost in ratings. Paul Blumenthal: "Priorities USA Action, run by former White House aide Bill Burton, raised $10.1 million in August, the most it has ever raised. The group also lead the way among other super PACs for the first time, beating out the conservative groups that have dominated the chase for unlimited money. Trailing Priorities for the first time are the top two conservative groups Restore Our Future, which is run by former aides to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and American Crossroads, founded by Karl Rove. Restore Our Future pulled in $7.1 million in August, and American Crossroads raised $9.4 million. Priorities pulled in its big haul by getting mega-donors to chip in with large contributions. Hedge fund executive James Simons gave $2 million, Texas trial lawyer Steve Mostyn and Cox Enterprises owner Anne Cox Chambers each chipped in $1 million, lawyer Michael Snow gave $750,000, and LGBT activist Jon Stryker, Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, Stewart Bainum and Ann Wyckoff each added $500,000." [HuffPost]

Blumenthal also reports the Obama campaign outraised the Romney campaign in August, but lagged behind when the RNC and DNC's numbers are factored in.

PAUL RYAN WORRIED ABOUT MOOCHER CLASS - Back in 2005, during an appearance at the Atlas Society, the congressman was asked about which "Randian" arguments are most effective on Capitol Hill. "I think the victimization argument -- I think the fact that collectivists speak down to people as victims is not only an arrogant thing to do, but it produces poor results," he replied. "So backing up this victimization class that collectivists try to produce and showing the folks you're trying to convince that this is not only in their worst interests, but it's not dignifying and it's arrogant [on behalf of the lawmakers]. That seems to work.... But I always try to show how victimhood has gotten them nothing and how freeing people produces great results." [HuffPost's Sarah Bufkin]

Rep. Rick Berg is the latest Republican Senate candidate to distance himself from Romney's "47 percent" comments. "The American way is you probably start at a zero tax rate and you work yourself up," he told the Washington Post. "I mean, that's where I come from. I just think it's unfortunate how that came out. I haven't talked to him personally about that. But from my perspective, we need to help people up. We need to lift them up, help them have the opportunity to succeed." [WaPo]

JOE BIDEN WON THE CONVENTIONS - Newly released Nielsen ratings suggest that Joe Biden has joined the ranks of Sally Field and average-looking people singing as things TV audiences like to see. Luke Johnson: "Vice President Joe Biden had the highest viewer ratings out of all speakers at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions, according to Nielsen Ratings. Biden was watched by 14.7 percent of the 289.7 million people in the U.S. who live in homes with a television. President Barack Obama came in second, with 13.7 percent. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was third, with 12.5 percent, former President Bill Clinton fourth, with 10.9 percent, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) fifth, with 10.4 percent. Actor and director Clint Eastwood, who generated considerable buzz for his bizarre, unscripted empty-chair routine representing President Barack Obama, was sixth, with 9.9 percent." [HuffPost]

Wherein Jill Biden accidentally makes a joke about the male anatomy... and then can't stop making the joke.

HERMAN CAIN TREATING ELECTORATE LIKE AN EX WHO DUMPED HIM - The former Godfather's Pizza CEO, Republican presidential candidate and champion of 9-9-9 has returned to public eye -- likely stirred from his underground pizza bunker by the repetition of a number (47 this time). Speaking to students at the University of Florida, Cain said he would be the clear frontrunner right now if he were the Republican presidential nominee. "The reason is quite simple," Cain said of why he'd have a "substantial lead," "I have some depth to my ideas." [HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Another video of a cat chilling out.

STICKY FINGERED DIPLOMAT! - HuffPost DC: "Two women stand accused of trying to steal more than $600 worth of clothes from Macy's at the Pentagon City mall on Wednesday evening. Only one of them was taken to jail. The other has diplomatic immunity." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- A bad lip reading version of Hunger Games. It's amazing that anyone of these people could survive in the wilderness. [http://bit.ly/SIzPa0]

- Mitt Romney and Barack Obama play a pickup game of hoops. [http://bit.ly/PGNXSp]

- A dad sent his young son's toy into space, which is certainly a more elaborate punishment than putting it in the back of his closet. [http://bit.ly/UlDsbG]

- If you like dubstep, you'll be thrilled by this power tool dubstep video. If you dislike dubstep,. you won't notice a difference. [http://bit.ly/PGYQ6I]

- The City of London is confusing. Allow this video to explain. [http://bit.ly/UmTGNo]

- Homer Simpson voted for Mitt Romney, no doubt pleasing the Republicans in Springfield's GOP HQ (in that scary castle on the hill). [http://chzb.gr/QrPjQ1]

- Kangaroo needs to learn some anger management. [http://bit.ly/UmTptW]

TWITTERAMA

@KagroX: They're not booing. They're commenting on his yooooooouth.

@ryanjreilly: Mitt Romney could have bought Paul Ryan 758 bottles of $350 wine with the amount he overpaid in taxes in 2011.

@jbendery: Lone protester in front of the Capitol with an all-black sign. He's protesting "anything and everything." bit.ly/OgIiG3

ON TAP

Tonight, 4:45 pm: His campaign stuck in the mud, Mitt Romney does what any struggling Republican candidate would: head to the Bay Area for a massive fundraiser at a place called "Strawberry Hill." [Hillsborough, CA]

Tonight, 7:00 pm: Being first lady is really cool. Michelle Obama attends a fundraiser outside of Baltimore featuring performances by, among others, Yo-Yo Ma and Leon Fleisher. [Phoenix, MD]

Tomorrow, 12:00 pm: Nothing inspires victory quite like the New York Mets. Steve Israel roots for the Amazins alongside his donors. [Queens, NY]

Today - Sunday: Good luck explaining to your spouse why you spent $2,500 on a "Weekend in Iowa" with Bruce Braley. [Dubuque, IA]

Today - Sunday: Richard Burr heads out on a "Golf, Hunting & Fishing Weekend" in Virginia. Given the age and girth of your standard Republican big-dollar donor, it's entirely possible the deer will be brought to the golf course. [Dan, Virginia]

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