Newt Gingrich spent the day searching for the world's most powerful lint roller. His spokesman drafted statements that read like they were dictated by Marlon Brando's character in Apocalypse Now. Lawmakers in Congress spent the bulk of their day devising strategies to annoy each other. And Jon Huntsman positioned himself to be the first presidential candidate to accept campaign contributions in Disney Dollars. Out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 18th, 2011, once again ready to lead those who won't be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces:
WHITE HOUSE REFUSES TO BUDGE ON DEBT CEILING REALITY - The White House this afternoon said that there is no "Plan B" to raising the debt ceiling, which was hit on Monday. "There is no alternative to raising the debt limit. It has to be raised," a White House official told reporters. "There's really no way around it." Elise Foley: "The White House is pushing back against a few Republicans -- including Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) -- who hinted this week the government could default on its debts for a short time in pursuit of a broader deal to cut the deficit. Republicans have overall agreed that the debt ceiling needs to be raised but have said they will not vote to raise the ceiling unless it is paired with major spending cuts and long-term debt reduction. But some fear that talks to reach that deal, which are being facilitated by Vice President Joe Biden, will last beyond the Aug. 2 deadline for increasing the debt limit." [HuffPost]
WARREN PROPOSES ENTIRELY SENSIBLE MORTGAGE REFORM - "The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advanced its overhaul of annoying, incomprehensible mortgage forms on Wednesday in its first regulatory maneuver since the agency was created by last year's financial reform bill." [HuffPost]
OPENLY GODLESS PEOPLE TO LOBBY SECRETLY GODLESS PEOPLE THIS WEEK - Tonight in Roll Call: "A group of self-described Godless Americans is defying predictions of the Rapture to kick off a new campaign this week against the religious right, writes Roll Call's Ambreen Ali. As some Christians quit their jobs this week to prepare for the end of the world, the Secular Coalition for America headed to Capitol Hill with an ambitious task: reducing the influence of religious interests on government. The lobby group -- created in 2000 to unite atheists, humanists, nontheists and nonbelievers of all stripes -- chose this weekend to meet because of its significance to a small faction of Christians. For followers of religious radio broadcaster Harold Camping, Saturday marks the beginning of the end of civilization and the return of Jesus Christ as predicted in the Bible."
Astronomers have discovered gas giants aimlessly floating about the galaxy. The behavior of these giant balls of gas goes unchecked as they aren't influenced by any external force. In other news, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller published his latest column. [This Sound]
Michele Bachmann is in talks to publish a book this September. The move will likely be received as an indication that Bachmann is seriously considering entering the 2012 Republican primary ... and that she can read. [HuffPost]
TESTER OFFERS SWIPE FEE COMPROMISE - The swipe fee debate continued to play out according to the script today. Jon Tester put forward a "compromise" that would reduce his proposed delay of debit fee caps from 24 to 15 months, but throws in a few extra changes the banks want. Harry Reid came out against it but promised Tester a vote. John Boehner tweeted his support for the banks. On HuffPost, the banks now have ads targeting Bob Casey, so something's up with that.
@JohnBoehner: Fed. Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Dodd-Frank Fallout: Debit Card Fees Threaten Small Banks http://bit.ly/mFRNZ8 via @Heritage
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Mike Risinger's 17-year career as a draftsman started falling apart in 2008. When the financial crisis hit, he spent a year working as a contractor, and then a few weeks working for a friend before a starting an endless stretch of unemployment. Now his wife is working two full-time jobs to pick up the slack. "We see her very little, and usually when we do see her she's dead tired and doesn't want to do anything," Risinger says in a video posted online May 9. "It's miserable." Risinger's one of 100 people being profiled by journalist Susan Sipprelle at her website, OverFiftyAndOutOfWork.com. [HuffPost]
A commenter says of Risinger: "I am in my 30s and stories like this make my blood run cold. I hope he gets work soon."
"It's pretty much inconceivable that you can understand the magnitude of the unemployment problem, see that major newspapers are making passing mention of it, and come to any conclusion other than the fact that the media has massively failed in its duties to the public." [HuffPost's Jason Linkins]
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REPUBLICANS TO TAKE ON REGULATIONS BY ADDING MORE REGULATION - Eric Cantor today said that the lower chamber will consider a measure that would require the House to approve any federal regulation that it claims adversely affects the economy. The REINS Act (ehhh?) would mandate an up-or-down vote by both chambers on all federal regulation that is labeled fiscally harmful. Of course, the law would really diminish the number of regulations not so much by the new veto power but by the likely logjam of regulations needing approval. As we all know, Congress gets its work done with the same speed as a 14-year-old who just played Grand Theft Auto for the first time. Double of course: This will never be enacted. [The Hill]
Senate Democrats are planning to propose increasing taxes on the rich in order to create a more favorable bargaining position for themselves. This legislative feint would also serve to highlight Republican opposition to making millionaires, whose base tax rate is lower thanks to capital gains and what not, pay more. Alexander Bolton: "Democrats are mulling two proposals to include in their budget plan: ending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for families earning more than $1 million a year or imposing a surtax of 3 percent or 5.4 percent on millionaires and billionaires. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) included a 3 percent surtax in a draft budget plan he circulated last week. That plan also called for a relatively even split of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the deficit, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who described the breakdown as 50-50." Welcome to politics, where you can scream your trick move at your opponents face. [The Hill]
NEWT GINGRICH: IF YOU QUOTE ME, YOU'VE MISQUOTED ME - Either all the stress from his Vanguard TV3-like campaign launch is causing Newt Gingrich to crack under pressure or he is a higher being who communicates in a multifaceted way that transcends the spectrum of audible sound waves. Whatever the case, Gingrich is insisting that any ad quoting his attack on Paul Ryan's budget from Sunday's "Meet the Press" is misquoting him. "So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood," he said in an interview on Fox News last night. "Because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate and I'm prepared to stand up... When I make a mistake -- and I'm going to on occasion -- I want to share with the American people 'that was a mistake' because that way we can have an honest conversation." OK! [ThinkProgress]
Chuck Schumer took a swipe at Newt Gingrich today by agreeing with him: "Newt and I are considered political opposites, but I couldn't agree more with what he said Sunday about the plan to end Medicare...He acknowledged that it is right wing social engineering...It was refreshing to hear such candor from a top Republican...Gingrich was saying what everyone knows to be true: The plan is extreme." [WaPo's Greg Sargent]
CAMP GINGRICH CLEARLY LOSING IT - Michael Calderone emailed Gingrich's spokesman, Rick Tyler, about Gingrich's rocky start. Here is Tyler's response (we should note that what follows hasn't been edited): "The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment's cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won't be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces." [HuffPost]
Gingrich's glitter assailant -- who we really want to call "Johnny Glitterseed" but our editors won't let us -- spoke to Amanda Terkel. "Of all the pranks I've done so far, this has been the most fabulous," Nick Espinosa said. "Getting a Republican candidate for president is a pretty good prank." Espinosa added that he is mulling over possible future pranks on other candidates. [HuffPost]
Somewhere, Newt Gingrich just opened up his wallet, watched a speck of glitter fall out, and cursed.
Should he run for president, Jon Huntsman -- a former Utah governor -- will base his campaign in Orlando. Huntsman aides tell ABC News' Michael Falcone that South Carolina and New Hampshire were also under consideration, but, we're guessing, were deemed insufficiently gross. Just ask Rudy Giuliani, the whole "focus on Florida" strategy never fails. [ABC News]
POLL: NO FRONTRUNNERS IN GOP PRIMARY - Despite the embarrassment of riches that is the current crop of Republican candidates for president -- or maybe BECAUSE of it -- GOP voters don't have a clear favorite quite yet. Emily Swanson: "On the heels of announcements by Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump that they will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012, a new Gallup report released Tuesday finds there is still no frontrunner for the GOP nomination. The report found that when respondents who had selected Huckabee or Trump as their first choice for the Republican nomination in Gallup's March and April polling were reallocated according to their second choices, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin moved into a near tie for first place. Still, neither potential candidate was the favorite of more than a fifth of Republicans." [HuffPost]
By virtue of the fact that people have paid attention to him, Pete King was asked whether he wants to be president. The questions about King's ambitions arose from a suggestion by the chairman of the Long Island Republican Committee, Joseph Mondello, that King run. King told Politico that he'd consider it if "it takes off" but won't otherwise. "I'm not going to Iowa, I'm not going to New Hampshire, I'm not forming an exploratory committee," he said. [Politico]
FLORIDA REPUBLICANS TARGETING ABORTIONS LIKE THERE'S NO TOMORROW - For a party that prides itself on supposedly promoting family values, Republican lawmakers in the Sunshine State sure are screwing a lot of women that aren't their spouses. Laura Bassett: "In the legislative session that ended Saturday, lawmakers passed no job creation bills for Scott to sign. But they did pass five bills restricting abortion rights and a state budget that cuts nearly 4,500 public sector jobs. The five bills, which Scott is expected to sign, force women to undergo ultrasounds prior to having an abortion, prohibit private insurance coverage of abortion care in the new state health-insurance exchange, require young women to prove the medical necessity of their abortions before a judge in order to bypass parental permission, establish state-sanctioned license plates that funnel money to anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" and changes the state constitution to prohibit the government funding of abortion. Florida Republicans filed a total of 18 anti-abortion bills during the session, the third most in the country, according to the ACLU, and twice the number of anti-choice laws introduced last year in the state, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America." [HuffPost]
Carolyn Maloney is circulating a letter urging Obama to name Elizabeth Warren to run the CFPB. Haven't we been through this already?
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - "A female poodle fell out of the sky onto the grounds of Shorncliffe Nursing Home in Sechelt, British Columbia."
On BarackObama.com, you can now buy T-shirts with the president's birth certificate pasted on the back. Just remember the sartorial rule: You shouldn't wear birth certificate t-shirts after Labor Day. Or before Labor Day.
JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Patches of severe thunderstorms coming through the region. They're working their way up from the southeast to northwest. I'm looking at a few patches through the afternoon and evening. These can be quite severe. We've already seen possible (and confirmed) tornadoes in the area. This will not end tonight, as the storms are coming through in waves (or, in a weather term, bands). Certainly, this is a night to be aware and tuned in. Tomorrow: Just bring an umbrella. Afternoon storms are likely, as the system continues sweeping through. As an aside: I've been thinking that the tornado alert system should be augmented. It currently is: "Tornado Watch" (possible tornadoes), "Tornado Warning" (likely tornadoes). I think that "TORNADO!!!" (there is an actual tornado on the ground) should be added. After all, when you see "TORNADO!!!" I think you know there's going to be a tornado. Thanks, JB!
- Rap artist Mr. Ghetto brings America the hit of the summer: "Walmart." [http://bit.ly/kgDGKu]
- A man asked his girlfriend to marry him via a movie trailer. ADORBS. [http://bit.ly/jFPdFq]
- Testing space beer in a zero-g environment. Don't ask, just watch. [http://bit.ly/ltcWQd]
- A young Dr. Dre appears on a children's game show. Remember, this is the guy who produced "The Chronic." [http://bit.ly/kDnarU]
- A company has invented a three-player chess game. This will make the Searching For Bobby Fisher sequel WAY better than the first one. [http://bit.ly/meErM5]
- Beatles quilt. [http://chzb.gr/mjwdgN]
- This is a real photograph. [http://bit.ly/k59XqH]
- Comedy sketch of hipsters trying to one-up each others' knowledge of music. [http://bit.ly/mGn8Ee]
@delrayser: Can't wait to find out whether the glitterboarding of Newt Gingrich led to any actionable intelligence.
@jaketapper: Obama campaign refuses to release long-sleeve birth certificate shirt #joking
@benjysarlin: Game Of Newt: A Song Of Ice And Social Engineering #EpicofGingrichmesh
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm: Is it just us, or is Scott Brown a pretty good approximation of what George W. Bush would be like if the Bushes never left New England? [The Offices of Davis and Harman, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave NW Suite 1200]
6:00 pm: Alcee raises some monee. Alcee Hastings is the guest of honor at a $2,500-a-plate dinner. That's a lot of monee [Rupli Townhouse, 446 New Jersey Ave SE].
6:30 pm: Roger Wicker attends his fundraiser at the Oceanaire Seafood Room. A "seafood room" sounds like an unpleasant thing [Oceanaire Seafood Room, 1201 F Street NW].
8:00 am: Keep your friends close and your friends closer. John Barrasso attends an "Oil and Gas Industry Breakfast" [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].
12:00 pm: John can't get enough of massive industries! John Barrasso attends a "Health Industry Lunch" [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Unlike the rest of Americans whose business ventures saddle them with debt for years, politicians simply hold fundraisers to retire their debt. America! Go say hi to Lisa Murkowski [National Republican Senatorial Committee, 425 2nd Street NE].
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