As political reporters, we were upset that the Olympic opening ceremony didn't reference Boris Yeltsin being caught outside the White House in his underpants trying to order a pizza. A French newspaper is accusing President Obama of having an affair with Beyonce, though there's no way she'd ever be caught dead with someone with his dance moves. And members of Congress want the Redskins to change their name, though we're not sure if Dan Snyder would want to call his team the Washington Tip O'Neill Memorial Post Offices. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, February 10th, 2014:
OBAMACARE EMPLOYER MANDATE DELAYED - Politico: "The Obama administration Monday delayed part of the Obamacare employer mandate in 2015 and beyond, the latest move to counter a torrent of criticism from the business community about the health law’s impact on employers. [The] Treasury Department said businesses with fewer than 100 workers would not be required to provide health care to its workers in 2015 or face a fine. It also gave big businesses with more than 100 workers more time to ramp up coverage. Small businesses with fewer than 50 workers have always been exempt from the new coverage requirements but the law originally required all other businesses to start covering their workers for face penalties beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The White House last July pushed that start date to 2015, in response to concerted pressure from the business community. The new policy Treasury announced gives the mid-size businesses — those with 50 to 99 workers - another year to adapt to the changing healthcare marketplace. Larger businesses, most of which already offer health benefits, still need to start covering full time workers next year — but they don’t have to cover all of them.they have to cover 70 percent in the first year and 95 in 2016 to avoid. The shift is meant to 'ease the transition to a 30-hour week,' a senior Treasury official said." [Politico]
GOP LEADERS TO TIE DEBT LIMIT INCREASE TO MILITARY PENSION REVERSAL - Roll Call: "House Republican leaders are preparing to pitch to their members a deal that would raise the nation’s borrowing cap for one year in exchange for ending military pension cuts that were part of the bipartisan budget deal passed earlier this year, according to staff sources. The deal is designed to attract Democratic support, which became necessary when GOP leaders discovered last week that there is a large enough chunk of their conference unwilling to support a debt limit increase to make the must-pass bill impossible to move with only GOP votes. The deal remains tenuous, however, as leaders will still have to round up a large swath of support from the Republican Conference; a special 5:30 p.m. meeting Monday in the Capitol basement will serve as the proving ground. Aides and staff have noted since last week that they think the military pension plan gives them the best chance to pick off Democratic votes from members who may be wary of casting a vote against the plan, which could be viewed as casting a vote against the military. Yet support in the Senate and White House is uncertain. Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., released a statement Monday chiding Republican leaders and imploring them to 'give up and walk back the ransom demands.' A short time later, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, 'We’re not going to pay a ransom of any kind,' although he declined to answer whether the president would sign a bill restoring the military benefits." [Roll Call]
@elwasson: Grover Norquist, other conservatives come out against emerging debt ceiling bill that ends pension cut
Ted Cruz making noise about blocking debt ceiling increases is starting to feel a bit like Donald Trump flirting with a run for office: "U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the Tea Party firebrand who egged on Republicans in the House of Representatives during last year's government shutdown battle, said on Monday it would be 'irresponsible' for Congress to grant President Barack Obama a debt limit increase without spending reforms. Cruz, who spoke to reporters after remarks at the Heritage Foundation think tank, said he hoped the House would not 'go down that road' of agreeing to an increase in the government's borrowing authority without demanding measures to rein in long-term deficits." [Reuters]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Alicia Payton is a 31-year-old mother of two from Gaylord, Mich. Last Wednesday she told HuffPost she'd recently earned a promotion at her retail job that pays $33,000 per year. "The only way for me to be promoted was to move to another store that is 49 miles away. It takes me about an hour to get there….Last week I was driving home from work, and we've had quite a bit of snow and ice and everything else, and basically my tire hit the edge of the road and I spun around in the middle of a pretty busy highway, hit the other side. I had to be pulled out of a ditch with a tow truck…. It was terrifying. I've never dealt with anything like that….My car is still at the shop. It's been there for over a week now. They had to order parts in. I did $4,000 worth of damage. It's a mess. The tow bills, the two combined, were $300. After I paid those I couldn't rent a car to get to work. I'm not at work today. I don't have a way to get there. I called our HR department and she said transportation issues are basically not their problem, which I understand. They have a business to run….I am fairly certain I no longer have a job." [HuffPost]
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REID MULLING FURTHER FILIBUSTER REFORM - If the Republicans take back the Senate, Mitch McConnell will dish out so much retribution it'll be like a parliamentarian installment of the "Taken" franchise. The Hill: "Liberal groups are agitating for another round of filibuster reform, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) controversial triggering of the nuclear option last year has done little to alleviate Senate gridlock. A coalition of labor and liberal groups have pressed Reid to make additional changes to the Senate rules this year, something that senior Democratic aides say is very possible. 'We strongly urge Majority Leader Reid and Chairman [Patrick] Leahy [D-Vt.] to consider reforms to floor and committee rules that will hasten the confirmation of President Obama’s talented and qualified set of nominees,' they said in a statement.The coalition, known as Fix the Senate Now, includes Alliance for Justice, the Communications Workers of America, Common Cause and the Sierra Club. Reid is reluctant to provoke another confrontation with Republican colleagues over the rules, but he’s frustrated with the continued obstruction and needs the help of outside groups to turn out voters in the midterm elections. 'Reid is not afraid to go further and considers reform this year a real possibility,' said a senior Senate Democratic aide." [The Hill]
WEST VIRGINIA CHEMICAL SPILL COMPANY SKIPS CONGRESSIONAL HEARING - TB;DA (too besieged; didn't attend). Kate Sheppard: "The company that owns the facility that leaked 10,000 gallons of chemicals into the water supply of hundreds of thousands of West Virginians last month was a no-show at a congressional hearing on the spill Monday. Freedom Industries, which owns the storage facility that leaked chemicals into the Elk River, did not have any representatives at a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held in the state capital Monday morning. The company's president, Gary Southern, had been invited to testify...'Freedom Industries' decision not to testify today compounds its gross misconduct, and is an absolute affront to every person impacted by its spill.' 'The one empty seat ... belongs to the one entity at the epicenter of all this,' said Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), 'the one who totally blew it.'...A representative for Freedom Industries referred questions on the company's absence at the hearing to its lawyer, Paul Vey. Southern did not attend the hearing, Vey said, "simply because the company is relatively small and we are focused exclusively on remediation of the spill." [HuffPost]
Shut up: "The Kentucky Republican Party called Monday on Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes to return a $500 contribution from filmmaker Woody Allen, who faces a renewed firestorm over years-old child molestation allegations. Allen cut a $500 check to the Kentucky secretary of state, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on Sept. 26, records show." [Politico]
CONGRESS PRESSURING REDSKINS TO CHANGE NAME - Luke Johnson: "Two lawmakers sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Monday asking the league to push for a name change to the Washington Redskins because it is a slur to Native Americans. 'The National Football League can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,' wrote Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the Native American Caucus, and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Committee on Indian Affairs. The lawmakers then targeted the league's tax exempt status. 'The National Football League is on the wrong side of history,' they wrote. 'It is not appropriate for this multibillion dollar 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization to perpetuate and profit from the continued degradation of tribes and Indian people. It is time for the National Football League to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team.' Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have introduced bills to eliminate the NFL's tax-exempt status, but neither has cited the name of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area's football team as a reason. The NFL has called itself 'a trade association promoting interests of its 32 member clubs' in tax filings. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Huffington Post in an email that the league would respond. 'After we have had an opportunity to review the letter, we will respond to it in an appropriate manner,' he said. President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have all said that the team should at least think about changing its name." [HuffPost]
Free name suggestion: Washington Department of Football.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a cat with a poor sense of itself.
GOD BLESS THE FRENCH - The New York Post "DID 'BAM BED BEY?" headline writes itself. Paige Lavender: "After years of dealing with critics questioning his religion and his citizenship, President Barack Obama now has another dubious rumor to deal with -- this time over his relationship with the recording artist and actress Beyoncé Knowles. French photographer Pascal Rostain claimed Obama is having an affair with the pop star in a report published by French newspaper Le Figaro on Monday. 'It'll go out tomorrow in The Washington Post -- people can't say that it comes from the gutter press -- an alleged affair between President Barack Obama and Beyoncé,' Rostain said, according to a HuffPost translation. 'I can assure you that the world will talk about it.' The Washington Post has yet to publish anything about such an affair. Kris Coratti, a spokeswoman for the paper, told Poynter the rumor of a report is 'definitely not true.' Rostain told Le Figaro he thinks recent footage of the Obamas shows the president becoming 'a bit distant' with his wife, Michelle. He compared America's first couple to French President François Hollande and his now ex-girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler, whose breakup caused some complications for the White House ahead of Hollande's visit to Washington this week." [HuffPost]
- Fish drives an electric car. [http://bit.ly/1gnboMT]
- Baby watches Superman fly for the first time. [http://bit.ly/1obpTZN]
- Short profiles of the first 20 people to sign up for Facebook, [http://read.bi/1bjudDn]
- Jogger is interviewed during snowstorm, says snowstorm ain't no thang, proceeds to eat words. [http://bit.ly/1fag6vj]
- Darth Vader's Facebook look back. [http://bit.ly/1iSqo7f]
- A fifteen-minute preview of the next "Game of Thrones" season. [http://bit.ly/MEa2nG]
@dcbigjohn: "Its never a big deal when someone says they're straight" says random straight white guy number 2 on The Five
@ddayen: Abe Foxman is retiring from the Anti-Defamation League so he can spend more time condemning statements by members of his family.
@elisefoley: This press briefing has been on for 25 minutes and still no one is asking about the most pressing issue facing our nation: Beyonce
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