America has a major socialist presidential candidate, though whether he siphons Bull Moose supporters is unclear. Bernie Sanders puzzled observers by announcing his campaign in front of the politically toxic Congress rather than in front of the bucolic, addiction-ravaged, economically stagnant landscapes of his home state. A middle school student asked President Obama to stop rambling, recalling that baby he tried to kiss who excoriated him for his overuse of “uh.” This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, April 30th, 2015:
HOUSE TO PASS COMPROMISE BUDGET - Compromise with the Senate, that is. Andrew Taylor: "The House moved quickly Thursday on a compromise GOP budget that promises to speed repeal of the new health care law while calling for a major budget hike for the Pentagon. The non-binding agreement promises to balance the budget in nine years with more than $5 trillion in spending cuts, though Republicans make clear they aren't interested in actually imposing controversial cuts to programs like Medicare, food stamps, Pell Grants or the traditional Medicaid program with follow-up legislation." [Associated Press]
BOEHNER SUPPORTS EX-IM BANK REAUTHORIZATION - Surprised he doesn't let it die just to retroactively screw Eric Cantor. Laura Barron-Lopez: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Thursday that 'thousands of jobs' are at risk if one of his own party members does nothing on the impending expiration of the Export-Import Bank. Boehner’s comments put him at odds with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who has made clear he wants to let the bank expire. 'Listen I support any plan that the chairman can get through his committee, whether it would reform the bank, wind it down -- but there are thousands of jobs on the line that would disappear pretty quickly if the Ex-Im bank were to disappear,' Boehner said. The Ex-Im Bank is the nation’s export credit agency, helping companies sell goods and services overseas. Opponents like Hensarling argue the bank essentially promotes “corporate welfare,” propping up big businesses. Proponents of reauthorization, however, say the bank helps U.S. businesses stay competitive in international markets." [HuffPost]
DEMS MOVE GOALPOSTS ON MINIMUM WAGE - Dave Jamieson: "With fast-food workers going on strike and local governments raising their wage floors, Democrats in Congress have decided their stalled proposal to hike the minimum from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour needs to be revised. On Thursday, they introduced a bill that would boost it to $12 per hour by 2020. The new bill is no more likely than its predecessor to garner support from congressional Republicans, who control both chambers and have so far staunchly opposed raising the federal wage floor. But the proposal made Thursday shows Democrats' desire to put the wage issue front and center heading into the 2016 election season, and their willingness to wager that Americans will like the idea of a more robust minimum wage hike." [HuffPost]
WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS CHANGE IN RANSOM POLICY - What about delivering decoy briefcases filled with coupons? The Hill: "Helping the families of U.S. hostages pay ransoms is not the same as paying one, the White House insisted on Thursday. Spokesman Josh Earnest offered that response amid a wide-ranging debate over the Obama administration’s efforts to free American hostages held by terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The Wall Street Journalreported Wednesday that the FBI helped the family of Warren Weinstein make a ransom payment to his al-Qaeda captors by vetting a Pakistani middleman who helped deliver the money. The ransom payment did not result in Weinstein’s release; he was mistakenly killed in a U.S. counterterrorism strike on an al-Qaeda compound where he was being held near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Earnest declined to comment on the claims made in the Wall Street Journal story .'Speaking generally, helping with a ransom payment … is not tantamount to paying a ransom,' he told reporters." [The Hill]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A Republican lawmaker in the Maryland General Assembly said it might be a good idea to take food stamps away from parents if their kids are involved in riots. "I think that you could make the case that if there is a failure to do proper parenting and allowing this stuff to happen, is there an opportunity for a month to take away your food stamps," Maryland state Del. Pat McDonough said Wednesday during a radio broadcast clipped by The Intercept… McDonough told The Huffington Post the principle of penalizing parents for their kids' behavior is strong. He noted that the city of Baltimore already has a law that fines parents if their children violate a curfew. "They’re financial penalties, which could be the same as taking away your benefits because it’s impacting you economically, so I’m not establishing anything new in principle." [HuffPost]
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OLD, KIND OF ALOOF MAN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT - Unsure why people are making such a big deal. Igor Bobic: "Bernie Sanders, the spunky senator from Vermont and fourth member of the upper chamber to declare a 2016 run for the White House, kicked off his campaign Thursday at an unusual location: the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The self-described 'democratic socialist,' who is the first candidate to challenge Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, called for reform to the U.S. electoral system, which he described as beholden to wealthy interests and the top 1 percent of Americans. Pointing several times to the dome of the Capitol behind him as a symbol for the electorate, Sanders framed the 2016 presidential election as a defining moment for the middle class. 'The major issue is how do we create an economy that works for all of our people rather than a small number of billionaires,' Sanders said in a press conference, as strands of his hair blew in the breeze." [HuffPost]
In the latest slice of Cohn Bread, Jonathan Cohn reminds us not to be too terrified of the 'S' word: "Sanders doesn’t shrink from the label socialist, Andrew Prokop pointed out in a profile for Vox last year, but he generally identifies himself as a democratic socialist. The distinction matters. Democratic socialism, as generally conceived in the U.S., is a milder, more aspirational form of the ideology. Democratic socialists might not recoil at the thought of government running large industries, but they don’t actively pursue that goal. Instead, they focus on decidedly less radical objectives -- like making the welfare state more generous, giving workers more power, limiting the influence of money on politics and policing the practices of business more closely." [HuffPost]
There's always the Cosi on Pennsylvania: "Sanders was scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday at noon at the Senate Radio/TV gallery...that walks a fine line of breaking Senate ethics rules, which prohibit campaigning of any kind in the Capitol complex. But about two hours before the presser was scheduled to start, Sanders’ office announced a location change. The event would be held outside the Capitol, in the Senate Swamp. From a rules standpoint, the move doesn’t change the murkiness surrounding Sanders’ expected announcement. The Senate Swamp can only be reserved by members of Congress -- not public demonstrators, or candidates... 'Official resources (Senate space, equipment, staff time, and supplies) should not be used to assist campaign organizations,' read the rules posted to the Senate Ethics Committee’s website. Sanders’ office said the news conference is not his official presidential announcement, and denied there is anything ethically murky about the event." [Roll Call]
Sanders should have held his presser at Bistro Italiano.
IN-GOV: PENCE GETS DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER - Amanda Terkel: "Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) picked up a Democratic challenger Thursday, setting up a rematch against the man he narrowly defeated in 2012. Former Indiana state House Speaker John Gregg (D) emailed supporters his announcement Thursday afternoon. 'After much thought and deliberation, I have decided that I cannot sit back and watch working Hoosiers fall further and further behind," he said. "Under Mike Pence Indiana has been given a bad name. His sole focus seems to be on social issues and telling people how they should live their lives.' Gregg is the first major candidate to step in to challenge Pence, who is up for re-election next year. It comes as the state is still reeling from the controversy over its new "religious freedom" law, which drove away businesses and organizations that were afraid it would allow for discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals." [HuffPost]
GOP PLAN TO DELAY PREDATORY LENDING PROTECTIONS FOR VETERANS DEFEATED - Worst optics since that bill condemning Mean Joe Green for throwing that kid his jersey. Zach Carter: "House Democrats successfully knocked down a GOP plan early Thursday morning that would have blocked predatory lending protections for American soldiers. Republicans had slipped the deregulation measure into the National Defense Authorization Act -- a major bill that sets the military's funding levels. The bill would have imposed a one-year delay on new Department of Defense rules designed to shield military families from abusive terms on payday loans and other forms of expensive short-term credit. Politicians frequently seek to delay measures in order to buy time to marshall the votes needed to fully repeal them... around 4 a.m. Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment authored by Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to strip out the GOP language to delay the new rules. Democrats voted unanimously in favor of the amendment, which passed 32 - 30 with support from five Republicans: Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Richard Nugent (R-Fla.) and Steve Russell (R-Okla.)." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a puppy who is confused by hiccups.
SOMEONE HAD TO - They'll move onto TelePrompter jokes in high school. Amber Ferguson: "President Barack Obama was interrupted by a sixth-grader who thought his answer about writer’s block was a bit long-winded. On Thursday, Osman Yaya, a student from Bennett Middle School in Salisbury, Maryland, interviewed the president at the Anacostia Library in Washington, D.C. While Obama was answering a question about writer’s block, Yaya totally cut Obama off. 'I think we've sort of covered everything about that question,' Yaya said. 'Okay, Osman thinks I’ve been talking too long,' Obama responded." [HuffPost]
- Kanye West quote or Dr. Bronner's bottle?
- A 57-storey Chinese skyscaper built in 19 days
- The best moment from the empty Orioles-White sox games was when the MASN announcers started to mimic golf announcers.
@BenjySarlin: Jeb distances self from W on painting style. "I think George's early works were a little too primitive."
2. Any that aren't Florida
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