POLITICS
02/28/2013 05:34 pm ET | Updated Apr 30, 2013

HUFFPOST HILL - Congress Gets Upper Hand In Battle Against Economic Recovery

The Senate more or less guaranteed that the economically damaging sequester will go into effect tomorrow night, bolstering our theory that Congress is one giant front for Goldline. The Pope stepped down today -- man, those sequester furloughs run deep! And Bob Woodward, a guy who once went toe-to-toe with the most ruthless, paranoid president in history, is now terrified of someone who uses the phrase "my bad." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, February 28th, 2013:

UH OH: SEQUESTER BILLS TANK IN SENATE - If you're a federal employee, it might be worthwhile to prepare a drop bag of all your desk plants and/or children's macaroni art. Maybe make some room for your favorite Cathy comic. Sabrina Siddiqui and Mike McAuliff: "The U.S. Senate voted down opposing plans to avert the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration on Thursday, just a day before the spending reductions start to take effect. Democrats offered a plan that was designed to replace sequestration for 10 months through a combination of spending cuts and revenue raisers, such as closing tax loopholes for oil and gas companies and implementing the so-called Buffett Rule. Republicans, who declared any new tax revenues a non-starter, introduced a counterproposal that would keep the sequester in place, but grant President Barack Obama the flexibility to implement the cuts in what he deems is the best way. The Democratic bill received a final vote of 51 to 49, nine votes short of the 60 required to proceed, while the Republican alternative fell 38 to 62. Since the House of Representatives adjourned Thursday for a long weekend, the failure to come up with a replacement for sequestration means cuts to defense and domestic spending will kick in on Friday." [HuffPost]

SHERROD BROWN AND DAVID VITTER TAKE LEAD IN SCREWBALL BUDDY COMEDY PLAN TO SPLIT UP BIG BANKS - He's a no-nonsense rustbelt lawmaker who sounds like he swallowed an active hand blender! He's a good ol' boy from the bayou who likes diapers! Who knows what they'll do next! Amanda Terkel: "Now, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with unlikely ally Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), is launching an effort to break up the taxpayer-funded party on Wall Street...'The system is such that the big banks have far too many advantages, bestowed in part by the marketplace, because investors understand and the market understands that government might in fact bail them out, so there is lower risk for investors, and that means that they can borrow money at a lower cost than anybody else can,' he said, explaining why small- and mid-sized banks are at a disadvantage. Brown announced on Thursday that he and Vitter are working on bipartisan legislation to address this problem." [HuffPost]

While laying out his bank break-up plan on the Senate floor, Brown's cell phone went off loudly and repeatedly.

In the Massachusetts Senate race, NARAL gets to pick between two Catholic men who used to be pro-life. It went with Ed Markey, who flipped on that issue a longer time ago than his opponent Steve Lynch. [TPM]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The economy at the end of last year was much worse than we thought it was at the time, but not as bad as we thought shortly thereafter, but still almost as bad as it could possibly have been. Martin Crutsinger: "The U.S. economy grew at a 0.1 percent annual rate from October through December, the weakest performance in nearly two years. But economists believe a steady housing rebound, stronger hiring and solid spending by consumers and businesses are pushing economic growth higher in the current quarter. The Commerce Department's second estimate of fourth-quarter growth was only slightly better than its initial estimate that the economy shrank at a rate of 0.1 percent. And it was well below the 3.1 percent growth rate reported for the July-September quarter." [Associated Press]

DOUBLE DOWNER - Congress will do its part to impede the recovery by cutting spending. "The fiscal policies that reduce the deficit will lead to less demand for goods and services, thereby holding down economic growth this year," the Congressional Budget Office said today. See you at Cap Lounge, yo. [CBO.gov]

How to tell people to shut up when they pretend Medicare doesn't have low administrative costs, courtesy Kip Sullivan's article in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. [PDF]

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HASTERT RULE FAIL: HOUSE PASSES VAWA REAUTHORIZATION... FINALLY - Today was another one of those Boehner-as-flustered-GOP-dad days ("You kids want a vote? You kids want a vote? FINE! Let's have a vote!) Jen Bendery: "The Violence Against Women Act is finally heading to the president's desk this week after a dragged out political fight over expanding protections to Native American, LGBT and immigrant victims of abuse. The House voted 286 to 138 on Thursday to pass the bipartisan Senate version of VAWA. The vote came just after the House rejected its own GOP bill, 166 to 257, which drew loud cheers in the chamber. Sixty Republicans voted against the GOP bill...The House Republican bill appeared doomed before it hit the floor. It had zero support from Democrats, and a growing number of Republicans were saying they couldn't support it. Seventeen House Republicans sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) last month urging passage of a bipartisan bill. Ahead of Thursday's vote, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) said she planned to vote for the Senate bill, as did Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a leading voice on tribal issues." [HuffPost]

On a day like today, who better to hear from than the Independent Women's Forum? The final bill, complained the conservative group, "views violence more through an ideological lens than a practical one." We're not really sure wtf that's supposed to mean. Does ideological violence hurt more or less or what?

Because of course: "Several Congressmen running for Senate in 2014 or considering a bid voted against final passage of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization on Thursday... Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, who is running for the state's open Senate seat, voted 'no.' So did his fellow Peach State Republican Reps. Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, Tom Price and Tom Graves -- all potential Senate contenders. Also voting no: Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, whom Republicans consider a top potential recruit to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor next year. In Louisiana, potential Republican Senate candidates split. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. voted in favor of the legislation, while Reps. John Fleming and Bill Cassidy voted against it. Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu is up for re-election in 2014. Republican Rep. Steve King, pondering an Iowa Senate run, also voted against final passage of the bill. But like a lot of his GOP colleagues, he voted in favor of a failed Republican substitute amendment, which might give him and other members cover." [Roll Call]

@cqprofiles: No current members were born on Feb. 29th, but past ND Rep. Rolland W. Redland (89th Congress) was.

BOEHNER: OBAMA'S TAX PLAN SHOULD HAVE A LOJACK INSTALLED - According to the House speaker the president has been stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, like that Das Kapital-weidling Marxist Robin Hood. Sabrina Siddiqui and Mike McAuliff: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared Thursday that seeking more revenue in order to reduce the federal deficit or to replace sequestration's pending budget cuts is tantamount to stealing from Americans. Boehner was asked why House Republicans are ruling out any further tax hikes to fix America's finances, when the more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction passed over the last two years is weighted in favor of cuts over revenue by a ratio of more than two to one. 'The president got his tax hikes,' Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill, referring to some $600 billion in tax increases Congress passed in the fiscal-cliff deal that ended the Bush-era tax cuts on incomes above $400,000." [HuffPost]

According to one GOP lawmaker, the Obama administration has unleashed a bunch of Tony Montanas on America. The Hill: "Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Penn.) on Thursday compared the Obama administration's release of hundreds of illegal immigrants from detention centers to the mass exodus of Cuban refugees condoned by Fidel Castro in 1980. Barletta -- who has a record of cracking down on illegal immigrants as the former Mayor of Hazelton, Penn. -- criticized the administration's move to release the illegal immigrants into a supervised monitoring program as 'inexcusable.' 'This is a federal government that has grown so big and so expensive that they would rather let criminals go than federal employees,' Barletta said in an interview on Fox News. " [The HIll]

RESELL-OUT WATCH: Barry Jackson is taking his talents back to K Street: Unlike in the car business, lobbyist resale value only gets higher each time it's returned. "Barry Jackson, a long-time senior adviser to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), is heading to K Street. Jackson has agreed to join Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as a strategic adviser, delivering a coup to one of the top-earning lobby firms in Washington. The blockbuster hire brings a premier Republican name in Washington politics to the firm. In Jackson, Brownstein Hyatt will have one of the Speaker's longest-serving and most trusted aides, giving the firm access and insight into the House GOP majority that few can match." [The Hill]

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S WAAAAAAHHHHHHH - Via Politico, here's the email from Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward that led Woodward to declare publicly that he was being threatened by the White House: "I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall -- but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim ... My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize." Stay safe, Bob! [Politico]

The pope stepped down today. There is no pope. Be sure to squeeze all your sinning in over the next few weeks.

@cFidd: No Pope means a Lent time out, right?

REPUBLICANS NOMINATE FELON FOR JACKSON JR.'S SEAT - Either this is a really misguided attempt to remind voters about the felon who used to have the seat or just plain stupid (or both). "Republican voters are suggesting the 2nd Congressional District replace one felon with another after picking ex-convict Paul McKinley as the candidate to run for the seat recently ceded by former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. While official results in the GOP special election will not be certified until next month, McKinley had a 23-vote lead over Eric Wallace, a multimedia company owner from Flossmoor, with all precincts reporting Wednesday. McKinley, a convicted felon who served nearly 20 years in state prison for burglaries, armed robberies and aggravated battery, declared victory. Wallace, however, was not willing to concede, and he called the prospect of McKinley representing the GOP 'an embarrassment.'" In the GOP's defense, it's getting hard in this country to find people who've never been imprisoned (outside of Wall Street). [Chicago Tribune]

NEW YORK-AREA REPUBLICAN HAS NO PROBLEM INSULTING CPAC - Nick Wing: "Characterizing the annual Conservative Political Action Conference as an unrepresentative, biased gathering of Republicans, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told The Hill on Thursday that organizers had snubbed far more than just New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) when they announced earlier this week that the governor was not invited. 'If Republicans had any brains they'd stay away from CPAC,' King said [Editor's note: Good thinking!]. 'The thought that he's being penalized because he sought to get the aid for Sandy relief is disgraceful regional bias. To hold that out against him shows a narrow-minded bigotry from the party.'" [HuffPost]

Happy VAWA reauthorization day! "A tea party-affiliated lawmaker in New Hampshire has apologized for remarks he made this week suggesting that people may "like being in abusive relationships." State Rep. Mark Warden (R-Manchester) issued a statement Wednesday saying that he hadn't intended to 'demean the victims' of domestic violence, The Concord Monitor reported Thursday morning. He also indicated that he had been talking about the role of state government when he verbally stumbled at a Tuesday committee meeting." So, uh, Warden promised he didn't mean it, and if the voters would take him back, it'll never happen again. Ever. Trust me. [HuffPost's John Celock]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Pugs riding a sled.

D.C.'S ONLINE DATERS ARE LIARS - HuffPost DC: "Turns out D.C. is not only the nation's infidelity capital -- it's also the center of online dating dishonesty." [HuffPost]

THIS VIRGINIA CAT THINKS SHE'S MICHAEL PHELPS - HuffPost DC: "Holly the cat goes swimming, wearing a life vest, at a day spa for animals just outside the nation's capital." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- We're pretty sure we missed the "Planet Earth" segment on this kitten staring down a pygmy goat. [http://bit.ly/WtQYYa]

- Head-scratching radio ads for products from the 60s and 70s. [http://bit.ly/12dJRuG]

- Floor plans of famous television homes, including 742 Evergreen Terrace and Seinfeld's apartment. [http://bit.ly/WtFJig]

- A musical ode to onesies, childhood's greatest development. [http://bit.ly/XmYF4G]

- Seven-year-olds across the world can stop asking: Here is why dinosaurs got so big... we think. [http://bit.ly/13lVTBH]

- Guy solves a Rubik's Cube while juggling. Whatever you're doing right now -- reading this newsletter, we suppose -- isn't nearly as extreme. [http://bit.ly/12dj9lV]

- This photograph of Dupont Circle in 1904 offers a glimpse of life before brunch. [http://bit.ly/13qFBHH]

TWITTERAMA

@RalstonReports: Surely the next iteration of this story is Woodward reveals White House altered emails as he was informed by source called "Shallow Throat."

@NickBaumann: No, Mr. Woodward. I expect you.... to DIE.

@TPCarney: Hitting on a reporter interviewing you is like hitting on a waitress: she's talking to you b/c it's her job, not b/c she likes you

ON TAP

TONIGHT

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Chris Christie, scourge of conservatives and hero of people who like winning elections, heads to Virginia for a fundraiser hosted by Bob McDonnell. [McLean, VA]

6:00 pm: Mike Enzi fills his campaign coffers with his "12th Annual Chugwater Chili Chowdown" which sounds... really gross. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]

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