John Boehner will never come as close to experiencing Burning Man as he did today when a group of naked individuals smeared in body paint stormed his office. Democrats are standing firm against cuts that could kill your grandmother, but there's a good chance she'll have to replace her hearing aids with those old-timey ear trumpets. And you'd be forgiven for confusing the Republicans placed in charged of the House's committees with a GOP panel on abortion rights: There are just so many dudes. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
REID AND DURBIN DON'T WANT GRANDMA TO DIE - Good news for children who don't want their grandparents to spend their golden years head-to-toe in the same bed, "Willy Wonka"-style. The senior Illinois senator and Senate majority whip today asserted that Democrats would not allow cuts to Social Security to be part of any agreement to avert the fiscal cliff. Over the past two years, the White House had made it clear in budget negotiations that it was open to Social Security benefit reductions as part of a larger deal that included tax hikes. Yet on Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney appeared to back up Durbin's position, suggesting a "separate track" be used to reform Social Security. "We should address the drivers of the deficit, and Social Security currently is not a driver of the deficit," he said. And at a press conference on Tuesday, Reid said that President Barack Obama had told the fiscal cliff negotiators at a recent meeting that "Social Security is not going to be part of this." [HuffPost]
Durbin flack must've been a fun job today. In his prepared remarks for his "major address" today at CAP, he called for all entitlements to be off the table in fiscal cliff negotiations. Cue the headlines. Then during Q&A he said he was open to Medicare and Medicaid reforms. Cue the headlines. Durbin later clarified: "What I'm saying is, what I'm talking about now is the immediate -- what takes us to the end of the year to avoid the fiscal cliff," he said, adding that Medicare and Medicaid should not be part of those talks. "When you're talking about long-term deficit reduction, $4 trillion worth, entitlement reform needs to be part of it." Social Security, too? "No. Social Security you take off the table and put in a separate commission." The progressive wing, reporting for duty!
GRANDMA'S WHEELCHAIR TEMPTINGLY CLOSE TO EDGE OF FISCAL CLIFF - Sabrina Siddiqui: "Unfazed by campaign-season accusations of raiding Medicare, Democrats on the Hill said they are willing to consider reforming the entitlement program to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. 'On Medicare, I don't know of any bipartisan group that has wrestled with this problem that has not said Medicare and other health care costs have to be part of the solution,' Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday, adding that he is not against Medicare being a part of fiscal cliff negotiations. 'They are the fastest growing accounts in the federal government. So clearly if you're going to deal with the long-term fiscal sustainability of our circumstance, health care accounts have to be a part of it.' The openness of Democratic lawmakers to pursue Medicare reform suggests that the party estimates only a limited political price for such a pursuit. 'I think there are things you can do on Medicare that will cut costs and keep people getting the benefits they need,' said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). But the base of the Democratic Party has warned members that cuts to the entitlement program should be minimal, if not entirely off the table, in negotiating a lame-duck grand bargain with Republicans." Rut-roh. [HuffPost]
LABOR AND PROGRESSIVE ACTIVISTS MEET WITH WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS - Greg Sargent: "[R]epresentatives of major unions and progressive groups met privately this morning with senior Obama administration officials at the White House -- and were pleased with what they heard...one person at the meeting -- which included people from the AFLCIO, AFSCME, SEIU, MoveOn and others -- came away convinced that the White House would ultimately prove willing to go over the fiscal cliff if necessary, rather than give ground on core demands, though this is not by any means a desired option and isn't being discussed as a strategic possibility...'Would they if it's between that and compromising their core principles? I was left with the impression that they would.'" [WaPo]
BOEHNER ANNOUNCES COMMITTEE CHAIRS: MORE BORING WHITE GUYS THAN A JIMMY BUFFET CONCERT - Here's the list: Agriculture -- Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK); Appropriations -- Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY); Armed Services -- Rep. Howard 'Buck' McKeon (R-CA); Budget -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI); Education and the Workforce -- Rep. John Kline (R-MN); Energy and Commerce -- Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI); Financial Services -- Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX); Foreign Affairs -- Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA); Homeland Security -- Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX); Intelligence -- Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Judiciary -- Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA); Natural Resources -- Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA); Oversight and Government Reform -- Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA); Rules -- Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX); Science, Space, and Technology -- Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX); Small Business -- Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO); Transportation and Infrastructure -- Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA); Veterans' Affairs -- Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL); Ways and Means -- Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
@samsteinhp: Drudge doing Boehner no favors. Top link to piece on House chairs being all male
Speaking of white dude House members, Scott DesJarlais is having a pretty lousy day. Mike McAuliff: "More good news for Scott DesJarlais. First CREW demanded a Congressional ethics investigation because the pro-life Tennessean lied about tape recording his demands that his patient/mistress get an abortion in 2000. Then he got his first publicly announced would-be challenger for 2014, in the form of Tennessee state Rep. Kevin Brooks (R), the assistant majority leader there. 'I have received a number of calls of support and had many conversations encouraging me to run for Congress in the Fourth congressional district,' Brooks said. 'While I am firmly committed to serving my constituents in the 24th District, I wanted to publicly say that I am exploring what a solutions-based campaign for Congress would look like and how I can best serve the great State of Tennessee.'"
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST REVEALS HIS MOST PARANOID, SELF-LOATHINGEST SECRET - Our favorite Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, who is petrified by the fiscal cliff because he is afraid of precipices both real and metaphorical, shared with us a secret that could very well limit his bar privileges at the Capitol Hill Club. The secret is this: PSLGOPL was pulling for Obama all along, because he predicts Obama's second term will make 2014 a good year for Republicans. Nate Silver agrees. "As you white guys know, some of my best buddies hated on Nate Silver, but I wasn't one of them," PSLGOPL writes. "I knew he'd come to the same conclusion I would about 2014. Statistics are stubborn things." Thanks, PSLGOPL!
This is not a new thought. We searched our email and dug up this PSLGOPL gem from March 12, 2012: "I want Obama 2nd term. We'll have 68 senators in 2014."
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - To prevent 2 million people from abruptly losing their economic lifeline at the end of the year, Senate Democrats have begun their push to preserve federal unemployment insurance programs. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) is gathering signatures from his Democratic colleagues for a letter to Senate leadership urging an extension of jobless aid. Despite recent declines in the unemployment rate, the letter notes that more than 12 million Americans are still out of work, and that there are more than three unemployed people for every available job. "In light of this unacceptable jobs situation, it is crucial that we focus on ways to get Americans back to work and that we continue unemployment insurance through 2013," the letter says. "Continuation of unemployment insurance has in the past, though often after much unnecessary delay, passed on a bipartisan basis." Every recession since the 1950s has prompted Congress to give the unemployed extra weeks of benefits, but partisan squabbling over unemployment insurance has been a Christmas tradition during each year of President Barack Obama's first term. This year will be no different. [HuffPost]
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SUSAN RICE VISITS HILL, DEEMED UNFIT TO BE THE FOURTH AMIGO - One thing's for sure, she's definitely not invited to their next viewing of Borat." HuffPost's Nick Wing: "Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) said on Tuesday that their highly anticipated meeting with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Sept. 11 anniversary attack in Benghazi, Libya, hadn't allayed their concerns about either the administration's explanation of the attack or Rice's qualifications as a potential secretary of state. 'Bottom line, I'm more disturbed now than I was before that the 16th of September explanation about how Americans died in Benghazi, Libya, by Ambassador Rice I think does not do justice to the reality at the time and, in hindsight, clearly was completely wrong,' Graham declared at a press conference after the meeting. Rice acknowledged in their discussion that she had been incorrect in initially suggesting the attack grew out of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video, Graham said. He then questioned the administration's decision to roll out Rice as a point person to discuss the attack if she hadn't known the details." [HuffPost]
From Rice's statement: "In the course of the meeting, we explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi. While we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved." [United States Mission to the United Nations]
@BuzzFeedAndrew: Earlier today the MSNBC chyron was "Steamed on Rice" now it's "Cooking Rice."
PEOPLEANXIOUS ABOUT THE FISCAL CLIFF, MY FRIEND - Zach Carter: "A coalition of financial institutions, fossil fuel companies, telecommunications firms and even the cigarette company Altria are teaming up to block a tax increase on dividends -- a policy that overwhelmingly aids the rich...The corporate coalition, known as The Alliance for Savings and Investment, is composed exclusively of corporations and lobbying groups. Major companies include AT&T, Verizon, Coca-Cola and Altria, while lobbying groups include two organizations representing Wall Street, another representing the natural gas industry and another that works on behalf of major electricity companies like Duke Energy, PEPCO and Consolidated Edison." [HuffPost]
CAMPAIGN OBAMA TO REACTIVATE FOR FISCAL CLIFF - The president will take his case on the road, but on behalf of our brothers and sisters in the traveling press corps, we implore his handlers to NOT play "We Take Care Of Our Own." Please. NYT: "Mr. Obama will meet with carefully selected small-business owners, middle-class taxpayers and corporate leaders over the next couple days, then fly to Pennsylvania on Friday to tour a toy manufacturer that he argues will be hurt if automatic tax increases take effect at the end of the year. The White House released its public lobbying plans on Tuesday morning even as it had yet to schedule another meeting between Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders to hash out a deal. The strategy reflects a calculated decision by the president to emphasize public pressure over closed-door negotiations after he felt burned by failed debt talks last year. As White House officials view it, the campaign-style approach has worked for Mr. Obama on several smaller issues over the last year and underscores the president's argument that he won a mandate with his 51 percent of the popular vote in this month's re-election." [NYT]
"As President Barack Obama ushers business leaders into the White House and plans a trip to Pennsylvania to sell America on his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff, House Republicans leadership will host small business owners in the Capitol next week. The Dec. 5 meeting will be in Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) office, and will come after a meeting this week with big business CEOs." [Politico]
JEB BUSH CREEPIN' - Because the former Florida governor doesn't support treating undocumented Americans like a bedbug infestation, he is considered a top contender his party's 2016 presidential nomination. National Review: "Former Florida governor Jeb Bush met Monday with a group of his former staffers at the J. W. Marriott hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, just steps from the White House. Bush, a potential 2016 presidential contender, spent an hour in the hotel's Cannon room, reminiscing and entertaining questions about his political future. In an interview with NRO, Bush did not rule out a presidential run. 'I am here to catch up with folks and promote education reform,' he said, smiling. When asked again whether he will issue a Sherman-type statement about his future, Bush remained coy. 'We have an alumni group that I like keeping in touch with,' he said. 'I'm here to focus on educational reform, and that's what I'm going to tell people.' Neil Newhouse, Mitt Romney's campaign pollster, was at the meeting, as were several veteran Florida operatives." [National Review]
RICK SANTORUM, GOD LOVE 'EM - It's like his career is the "Cool Hand Luke" boxing scene where he's Luke and Dragline is the increasingly Hispanic, gay and youthful American electorate that wants nothing to do with him. Weekly Standard: "Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum says he is 'open' to another run for president in 2016. Santorum was asked about a possible presidential campaign Monday at THE WEEKLY STANDARD. 'I'm open to it, yeah,' Santorum replied. 'I think there's a fight right now as to what the soul of the Republican party's going to be and the conservative movement, and we have something to say about that. I think from our battle, we're not going to leave the field.' In 2012, Santorum won nearly 4 million votes and 11 GOP primary contests--the same number of states, he pointed out, Ronald Reagan won in his failed 1976 presidential bid." [Weekly Standard]
PEOPLE GET NEKKID FOR JOHN BOEHNER - "Hell no, your cans!" etc. TPM: "Seven naked protesters swarmed the office of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Tuesday for some 20 minutes of loud chanting against cuts to AIDS funding. Among their chants: 'Boehner, Boehner, don't be a dick, budget cuts will make us sick.' And: 'Fight AIDS. Act up. Fight back.' And: 'End AIDS with the Robin Hood tax, no more budget cuts on our back.' And: 'Budget cuts are really rude, that's why we have to be so lewd.' The screaming, fully-nude protesters stood still in the center of the office, together in a line but facing in different directions. The room quickly filled up with members of the activist groups they belong to, observers taking photographs, a handful of reporters, and, eventually, police." [TPM]
A decidedly NSFW photo of the protest.
'Tis the season to be ethically vigilant: "The House Ethics Committee circulated memo Tuesday providing advice on holiday gifts and job negotiations for members and staffers. The holiday memo gently reminded lawmakers and staffers that the House gift rule applies "even during the holiday season" before describing procedures to accept certain presents, attend parties and the steps that should be taken if an 'unacceptable' gift is received." [Roll Call]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dog befriends lamb.
SANDY RAFTING TRIP TO WALMART GOES AWRY - HuffPost DC: "The risk to their lives after Superstorm Sandy was not sufficient to change the minds of two friends who took booze and an inflatable raft on a trip in the raging Monocacy River, according to a Frederick County Sheriff's Office incident report. The men brought a cooler of whiskey sours with them on the trip, and asked EMS personnel to rescue their drips as well as themselves."" [HuffPost]
A SPARKLY PROPOSAL - HuffPost DC: "The Old Town waterfront was even more sparkly than usual on a night just before Thanksgiving when a group of people held up big silver foam letters covered in LED lights that read "MARRY ME KIM."" [HuffPost]
- "Dikembe Mutombo Saves the World," a video game someone actually created. [http://bit.ly/UJXsjq]
- A bunch of people camped outside a dollar store on Black Friday because... of the unemployment rate? We're not sure. [http://bit.ly/V9zOmx]
- Charity single role reversal: "Africa for Norway" features African pop singers raising money for the poor frostbitten Norwegians. [http://bit.ly/U55Mhs]
- Photographs of the Macy's Day Parade from above. You can even see Spider Man's bald spot. [http://bit.ly/TorcmU]
- Cee Lo Green and The Muppets sing a Christmas tune because of course. [http://bit.ly/XXT2gA]
- The Empire State Building was the site of light show last night, its first ever. [http://bit.ly/SaUFBC]
- China's main Communist Party paper fell for The Onion's declaration of Kim Jong Un as the sexiest man alive. [http://nbcnews.to/1158l51]
@igorbobic: The only thing better than taking pictures of naked protesters is Instagramming pictures of naked protesters.
@pourmecoffee: Everyone should get fiscal cliff advent calendars to take part daily in the joy of avoiding economic catastrophe.
@indecision: I may be overreacting, but I've already decided which family members to eat in case we go off the fiscal cliff.
6:00 pm: Will Tim Pawlenty soon be replaced by John Thune as America's most forgotten Midwestern presidential candidate? Time will tell. In the meantime, he stops by the NRSC for a function benefiting his Heartland Values PAC. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]
6:00 pm: Mike Crapo, Idahoan that he is, can only get more conservative over time to ward off primary challenges until he becomes a singularity of climate denialism and tricorne hats. [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Ave NW]
5:00 pm: If only America could hold a debt retirement session at the National Republican Senatorial Committee's headquarters... but sadly America is not Ted Cruz. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]
6:30 pm: We're very pleased to see that Tom Coburn has lately been dressing like an English professor. We hope he takes his tweedish look to his fundraiser benefiting his TAC PAC. [Trattoria Alberto, 506 8th Street SE]
7:00 pm: Ted Cruz continues to retire his debt, this time with an assist from Mitch McConnell. [The Source by Wolfgang Puck, 575 Pennsylvania Ave]
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