12/12/2012 05:53 pm ET Updated Feb 11, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Socialist Sorting Hat Puts Warren On Banking Committee

Today is 12/12/12, or, as it's known in political circles, "Herman Cain compromise day." The Daily Caller dropped the ball when someone else broke a story about Robert Menendez and a registered sex offender. And Todd Akin still has a considerable amount of campaign debt. We hear that donors have a way of shutting that down. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, December 12th, 2012:

@NYTimesCohen: Reliably informed Susan #Rice now very unlikely to be the next Secretary of State. One source tells me "It's dead in the water." We'll see.

ELIZABETH WARREN TO ANNOY BIG BUSINESS FROM TWO COMMITTEES - In case you didn't believe us when we told you a week ago, the senator-elect was named to the Senate Banking Committee today, as well as the Aging and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees. Now America will get even more opportunities to watch executives be publicly shamed for flying private to a congressional hearing. Politico with more appointments: "..independent Sen.-elect Angus King of Maine was rewarded with four committee assignments: Armed Services, Intelligence, Budget and Rules...Tim Kaine, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, won seats on Armed Services, Foreign Relations and Budget committees. Joining the powerful Appropriations Committee will be first-term Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Jeff Merkley of Oregon." Michael Bennet got Finance, a little thank-you for taking the DSCC job. [Politico]

@jbendery: Barney Frank just went onto House floor, apologized for inaccurately accusing Jeb Hensarling of something, and walked off to claps

Jeff Merkley sent his colleagues a detailed memo describing his "talking filibuster" reform. Under current Senate rules, senators who want to filibuster legislation don't need to hold the floor by talking -- think "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" -- but must only raise their hand to object and thereby put the onus on the majority to win 60 votes. This might well be the only time in history senators were presented with the opportunity to talk ad nauseum but declined. [Full Memo]

Worth the click: doessocialsecurityaddtothedeficit.com

VETS: CHAINED CPI SUCKS - The Veterans of Foreign Wars and a host of other advocacy groups for vets has a letter to congressional leaders informing them that changing the government's inflation measure would unfairly harm vets. "A veteran with average earnings retiring at age 65 would get nearly a $600 benefit cut at age 75, and a $1,000 cut at age 85. By age 95, when Social Security benefits are probably needed the most, that veteran would face a cut of $1,400 -- a reduction of 9.2 percent." Man, veterans are screwed. [Letter PDF]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - From our ongoing series PASTED: The Email of the Jobless: "On May 9th 2012 I celebrated my 60th birthday. Two weeks later I was severed from my job due to a company downsizing at the electric company where I have worked for 26 years. I had an excellent work history and left with glowing references from my supervisors. I did everything I was advised to do. I took the classes to prepare a resume and perfect my interview skills. I posted my resume on the popular job sites and then waited for the calls that never came. So then I visited all the temp-to-hire agencies and advised I would take any interviews offered. I also networked with any and all contacts that I could find to get my name 'out there.' So now it is 6 months later and I am still looking for work! I have exhausted my 1st 26 weeks of unemployment and was just approved for the 1st tier extension of an additional 14 weeks, but was advised that the checks will end on December 28th." They'll end unless Congress makes up its mind to keep them. We'll see. [Hang in there!]

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HELL NO YOU SUCK! PUBLIC NOT PLEASED WITH BOEHNER'S HANDLING OF FISCAL CLIFF - A new survey from Washington Post and ABC News indicates that the House speaker might want to think about asking the president to lead a couple dozen more times, because the first one-hundred times hasn't helped his case too well. WaPo: "By a better than 2-to-1 margin, registered voters disapprove rather than approve of House Speaker John Boehner's performance during the fiscal cliff talks, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll – a negative rating due in large part to the lack of uniform support for him among Republicans...In contrast, Democrats overwhelmingly approve of the way President Obama is handling negotiations, even as registered voters split evenly on how the incumbent is handling the matter.. Boehner is saddled with a basically even verdict from GOP voters (39 percent approve, 37 percent disapprove) thanks to divisions within the congressional delegation he leads." [WaPo]

On the negative fifth day of Christmas, John Boehner gave to me, five days-a-working, four entitlements-a-slashing... Mike McAuliff and Jen Bendery: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned members of his caucus Wednesday that with talks on averting the 'fiscal cliff' apparently stalled, they should not get their hopes up that they'll be going home for the holidays. 'We were encouraged not to make any plans for the holidays,' Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) told reporters after the Republicans' weekly caucus meeting. 'He just said just don't make plans,' said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), adding that the implication was that members would need to be in Washington in case a vote was taken. King also said that they'd only be needed for a vote 'if some something happens' -- a large qualification that suggested the odds of going over the cliff remain high. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) dampened everyone's spirits further, saying he plans to keep lawmakers around until a deal is done, even if it ruins people's holidays." [HuffPost]

Chris Van Hollen senses something is amiss: "Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) suggested on Wednesday that House Speaker John Boehner is stalling on a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff because he is focused on saving his speakership and coming to the table with more flexibility after his reelection." [HuffPost's Sabrina Siddiqui]

We're not in Kansas the House Agricultural Committee anymore: "Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) lit in to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a recent interview with Newsmax, criticizing his move to strip a quartet of Republicans of their spots on powerful committees. 'Someone from Kansas has been on the House Ag Committee for over 100 years. And this because of petty, vindictive politics, you pick a fifth-generation farmer off the Ag Committee,' Huelskamp told Newsmax. 'I've got a Ph.D., in ag-policy making as well. It's a good fit.' Huelskamp and his colleague, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), were also kicked off the House Budget Committee." [HuffPost's Nick Wing]

MOVEON, UNDERSTUDIES PRESS DEMS ON MEDICARE - With MoveOn taking some time off to find itself, man, and get closer to the people, progressive advocates have wondered who will fill the power vacuum they're leaving behind. MoveOn is teaming with a bi coalition of liberal groups -- CREDO, Progressives United, DFA, PCCC, Yada Yada Yada -- to whip Democratic senators to oppose raising the Medicare retirement age. We'll put CREDO in the lead to take MoveOn's place, simply because they're the ones that told us about the effort. Also somebody from Fenton. [MOVEON]

Senate Dems on the left are bristling at suggestions that the Medicare eligibility age be raised. WaPo: "At a recent private caucus meeting among Senate Democrats, someone brought up the persistent media rumors that President Obama might accept raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of a fiscal cliff deal. There was an outpouring of outrage from the Senate's liberal members, who bluntly told the room that this should be a nonstarter among Dems. So recounts Senator Jeff Merkley...'The overwhelming sense was that this would be absolutely unacceptable,' Merkley told me.'" [WaPo]

FED TO RAISE RATES IF BUS GOES UNDER 50 MILES PER HOUR UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS - Obama's Chicago cronies in the Bureau of Labor Statistics might want to lay off the number tampering for the time being lest investments taper off. AP: "The Federal Reserve sent its clearest signal to date Wednesday that it will keep interest rates super-low to boost the U.S. economy even after the job market has improved significantly. The Fed says it plans to keep its key short-term rate near zero until the unemployment rate reaches 6.5 percent or less – as long as expected inflation is tame. Unemployment is now 7.7 percent. That plan adds detail to what the Fed had said before: that it expects to keep the rate low until at least mid-2015. For the first time, the Fed is making clear to investors and consumers that it will link its actions to specific economic markers...Bernanke made clear that even after unemployment falls below 6.5 percent, the Fed might decide that it needs to keep stimulating the economy. Other economic factors will also shape its policy decisions, he said." [AP]

A CNBC set piece fell on former Romney advisor Glenn Hubbard during an appearance on the network today. This will no doubt be featured in the finale of 'Game Change 2.'\

ROBERT MENENDEZ IMPLICATED IN SCANDAL NO ONE WILL REMEMBER WHEN HE'S UP FOR REELECTION SIX YEARS FROM NOW - Reports indicate New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez employed as an unpaid intern a registered sex offender who was also an undocumented immigrant. Whether the intern was engaged in an inappropriate Twitter correspondence with Anthony Weiner remains to be seen. AP: "U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez employed as an unpaid intern in his Senate office an illegal immigrant who was a registered sex offender, now under arrest by immigration authorities, The Associated Press has learned. The Homeland Security Department instructed federal agents not to arrest him until after Election Day, a U.S. official involved in the case told the AP." Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, an 18-year-old immigrant from Peru, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in front of his home in New Jersey on Dec. 6, two federal officials said. Sanchez, who entered the country on a now-expired visitor visa from Peru, is facing deportation and remains in custody. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of Sanchez's immigration case." [AP]

Menendez responds: "Sen. Bob Menendez said today he did not know that one of his unpaid interns was an illegal immigrant and that he could not have known that the intern was a registered sex offender, because the person was a juvenile. 'We ask status of all of those college interns … (it) didn’t indicate anything about his status and we certainly wouldn’t have known through any background checks because he is a minor about any sex offender status.' Menendez said in an MSNBC interview shortly after the Associated Press broke the news about the intern’s recent arrest and pending deportation." [Inquirer]

TODD AKIN'S RUNAWAY SPENDING - The former Missouri Senate candidate and history's most revolutionary obstetrician is still plagued by considerable amount of campaign debt. The Hill: "Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) still hasn't repaid his campaign debt, more than a month after losing an election to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) after undermining his own bid with controversial comments about rape.In an email to supporters... Akin adds a plea for funds to settle his campaign debt: 'We still have a little ground to make up on our campaign debt retirement. I would be incredibly appreciative if you could click here to donate $5 or more today!' he wrote." [The Hill]

Speaking of Washington men with little regard for the wellbeing of women, we present this item from the Washington City Paper: "Patrick Moran, the son of Democratic Virginia Rep. Jim Moran, is having a bad year. First, undercover video operative James O'Keefe caught him on tape half-heartedly discussing how to commit voter fraud...while acting as the field director for his dad's campaign. Now Moran's taken a more criminal turn, pleading guilty earlier today to allegedly beating up his girlfriend outside a Columbia Heights bar...In a statement to Washington City Paper, Rep. Moran described his son and his girlfriend as 'good kids. 'I hope their privacy will be respected,' the congressman said. 'They look forward to putting this embarrassing situation behind them.'" [City Paper]

Moran's office is now saying this was all an "accident." Was the guilty plea for assault also an accident?

PRESIDENT TO BE FOLLOWED BY PRESS: REPORT - Politico: "The Presidential Inaugural Committee has announced that President Obama's official swearing-in will be open to the press, allaying the concerns of the White House press corps that had feared restricted access...The White House press corps had feared they would be restricted from Obama's official swearing-in, which takes place in a small, private ceremony on years that January 20 falls on a Sunday. Inaugural committee officials had privately indicated to reporters that the event could be closed to reporters and cameras, with an official photograph supplied to press by White House photographer Pete Souza, sources told POLITICO. A subsequent email from the PIC referring to the Jan. 20 swearing-in as a "private" event rekindled that concern." [Politico]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Fan heater is not a fan heater. Fan heater is a cat.


- If "Breaking Bad" were shot in the style of "The Wire." Sadly, Walter White doesn't know where Wallace at. [http://bit.ly/W63I7V]

- Beautiful time-lapse video of California's redwood forest. [http://bit.ly/TTVAYI]

- Are you a wallflower? Do you want to learn to cut a rug? The Charlie Brown School of Dance can help you. [http://huff.to/T8kL8y]

- "S.O.S." -- possibly the largest piece of graffiti in the world. [http://bit.ly/VA2gJ4]

- "We guarantee you'll find nothing personal or unique in our store!" - CVS' holiday ad campaign. [http://bit.ly/VAqouW]

- Photos from inside the expansion of New York's 7 subway line. [http://bit.ly/X7afhJ]

- A handy guide to catching some Z's at an airport. [http://bit.ly/RpgH75]


@hillhulse: Sen. Mikulski refers to 'George Bush the Elder' on Senate floor. Very medieval.

@DLind: Things that happen in DC: *doorbell* "Hi, is this America Speaks?" "No, it's America's Voice." "Oh, sorry, right building, wrong suite."

@daveweigel: Brunch no longer a majority of Instagram by 2043 RT @AP: Census: Whites no longer a majority in U.S. by 2043: apne.ws/TV5hqG -SS



6:30 pm: If you have $30,800 to spare and want to talk to Dick Durbin about the latest season of "Homeland," then boy do we have the fundraiser for you. The Senate majority whip is joined by Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray for a DSCC fundraiser. [St. Regis, 923 16th Street NW]


8:00 am: Saxby Chambliss hosts a PLEEEEAAASE DON'T PRIMARY ME "Kick Off Breakfast" for his 2014 reelection bid. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]

12:00 pm: What could be more D.C. than a Podesta Group lobbyist hosting a fundraiser for a senator at the Monocle? Maybe A Washington Life spread on Tammy Haddad's pets? Anyhoo, Steve Northrup hosts a fundraiser for Mike Enzi. [Monocle Restaurant, 107 D Street NE]

12:00 pm: Landlocked Nebraska doesn't get much seafood, so for $500 you can witness Mike Johanns enjoy some shrimp cocktail or whatever at Johnny's Half Shell, where America's Heartland senators go to sellout and chow down. [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW]

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