Election night in Illinois(!), where Republican voters are expected to cast their ballots for Mitt Romney and a handful of stoned college students will likely write-in "weed" just for fun. President Obama broke precedent and politely refused a serious budget proposal from Paul Ryan. And excited though some may be about Palestinian Sesame Street's return, don't expect Palestinian Mr. Rogers to be sponsored by viewers like you anytime soon. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 20th, 2012:
@rickklein: #ILprimary early exits: 6 in 10 say Romney most likely to beat Obama, regardless of vote today. 2 in 10 Santorum, 1 in 10 Gingrich.
WHITE HOUSE TO RYAN PLAN: NUH-UH - "On Tuesday, House Republicans laid out their version of how to resolve that logjam by introducing Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget. The proposal includes dramatic tax policy reform that would nullify the issue of the expiring Bush tax cuts. It also seeks to replace the $500 billion in triggered cuts to the defense department by substituting in measures that would decrease spending on food stamps, federal worker benefits and health care programs, among other items." Sam Stein: [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
RYAN'S SENIOR MOMENT ON THE MEDICARE PART - Courtesy Mike McAuliff: "Our plan saves Medicare from bankruptcy over the long term. In the 10-year window, the -- these benefits do not change for people, as I mentioned, 55 and above. But we do propose medical liability reform which saves Medicare. By repealing 'Obamacare,' you save some spending in Medicare, and we also agree with the president in his budget on the need to means-test -- more means-testing in -- throughout the Medicare program. We've put that in there as well. I can't remember, off the top of my head, what those savings are."
PETER LEWIS DROPS THE MIC ON DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE - The reclusive billionaire founder of Progressive Insurance -- a real Daddy Drug-Warbucks -- has decided to stop funding the liberal donor network the Democracy Alliance, people familiar with Lewis' decision tell HuffPost Hill. Never good news to be losing a marque billionaire, it comes at an especially bad time for DA, as it faces criticism from progressive groups recently booted from its inner sanctum.
KAFIYA-WEARING BIG BIRD NOT DEAD YET - House appropriators on Tuesday were scrambling to complete a deal that would release some $150 million in development aid to the Palestinian territories that has been held up for the past six months, Josh Hersh is reporting. The aid has been stalled since late last summer, when Congress, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), put a stop on all funding to the Palestinian Authority over their attempt to seek statehood at the United Nations...Already some programs have been cut out entirely owing to the funding cuts: in January, the Palestinian version of the children's show Sesame Street was cancelled when its production ran out of funds.
Quitting your high-level job at Susan G. Komen for the Cure is still all the rage.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Paul Ryan wants "Welfare Reform Round 2," despite scanty evidence Welfare Reform Round 1 was such a great thing. "The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families reforms cut welfare caseloads in half as poverty rates declined," Ryan's blueprint says. "In stark contrast to critics' fears, child-poverty rates fell 1 percent per year in the five years following the passage of TANF in 1996." But since then, the child poverty rate has gone back up, even as TANF caseloads have continued to decline. The poverty rate for Americans under 18 was 20.5 percent in 1996. Now it's 22 percent. "The success of welfare reform is way oversold because it's based on early years when the economy was booming," says LaDonna Pavetti of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. [HuffPost]
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GOOD NEWS FOR ROMNEY: 'DELEGATE MATH' RE-ENTERS THE VERNACULAR - "A last-minute shift of support for Rick Santorum could help him make up lost ground in Illinois. Nine delegates that belonged to Newt Gingrich have shifted their allegiance to Santorum, according to Fox Chicago News. It happened Monday night when Gingrich supporter Jim Runyon announced a change of heart. The vice chairman of the Crawford County Illinois Republican Party recruited many of the former speaker's Illinois delegates in six downstate districts. Runyon said these delegates were pledged to Gingrich because he asked them to be. Now he's asking them to vote for Santorum if they make it to the Republican convention in Tampa this August. Runyon told Fox Chicago News that he's convinced nine Gingrich delegates in four congressional districts to abandon their promises to vote Gingrich." [HuffPost]
Sometimes people get the joke. Jen Bendery: "Actor Robert De Niro stumped for President Barack Obama on Monday night, joking that the country may not be ready for the white culture that each of the GOP presidential candidates would bring into the White House. 'Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white First Lady?' De Niro asked a crowd of Obama supporters, according to a White House pool report. De Niro was hosting a fundraiser with Michelle Obama at his New York City restaurant, Locanda Verde. The crowd 'roared' in response to De Niro's question, according to the pool report, and De Niro said back, 'Too soon, right?'" [HuffPost]
Sometimes they don't: "Karen Santorum laughed off a joke about her husband Rick Santorum using 'protection' made by Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.), saying it was 'sort of funny.'.
@irisgrim [a week ago]: Mitt Romney would be the first white president of my lifetime. Is the nation ready?
HUFFPOST HILL SEAMUS UPDATE, BROUGHT TO YOU BY BIOSPOT-BRAND FLEA AND TICK COLLAR ('BIOSPOT: WHEN FLEAS AND TICKS WANT TO BITE YOUR DOG, WE WILL STOP THEM') - Most voters think it's "inhumane" to put the family dog in a kennel on the car roof for a long trip as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney once did, according to a new poll from the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling. Sixty-eight percent of 900 registered voters polled said they think that in general, it is inhumane to put the family dog on top of the car, compared with 14 percent who said it's humane and 18 percent who weren't sure. While most voters think putting a dog on the car roof is inhumane, it's not the type of behavior that seems able to sway their votes. Told by pollsters that Romney had done so, 55 percent said it didn't affect which candidate they would support, while 35 percent of respondents said it made them less likely to support Romney and 7 percent said it made them more likely to support him." [HuffPost]
@karentravers: Is Congress really going to the dogs? Fun piece from @ABC's @sunlenmiller on the canine insiders on Capitol Hill abcn.ws/GBb7Dm
Sorry, Republican Party. But maybe next cycle? "When asked on 'Fox and Friends' Tuesday morning whether she would join a ticket with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, should he win the nomination, Rice was less than enthusiastic. She said running for office was 'not her strong suit,' and she was confident the GOP would 'find the right person.'" [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]
TODAY IN 'PHENOMENALLY GHOSTED MASS EMAILS (Maybe)' - Number one from James Carville via the DSCC: "Friend, Think about Republicans pulling up in moving vans. A boxful of attacks on women's rights. A bagful of tax cuts for Big Oil corporations. And there's an ugly lamp. There's gotta be an ugly lamp. When the moving crews leave, we'd have a President Romney or President Santorum with a Senate suited to the 16th century and Karl Rove and the Kochs on speed dial. Heck, you ladies might be lucky to keep your voting rights."
Number two from BarackObama.com: "Friend -- I'm officially back on the campaign trail. And it feels great to be out there. Because really, what being on the campaign trail means to me is simple: talking to you. What supporters across the country are thinking about right now is what's going to be on our minds every day between now and Election Day. And for four years after that. So I'd like to ask you one question right now: Of all the issues important to you, what's the bottom-line reason you're with us in this fight?"
THE SNOPES TRIAL IS BACK, BABY - Ron Paul has already sort of brought back the Cross of Gold speech and it's been at least five years since Brooklyn brought back flappers so... let's do this thing. Knoxville News Sentinel: "The [Tennessee] Senate approved a bill Monday evening that deals with teaching of evolution and other scientific theories while the House approved legislation authorizing cities and counties to display the Ten Commandments in public buildings. The Senate voted 24-8 for HB368, which sponsor Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, says will provide guidelines for teachers answering students' questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects. Critics call it a 'monkey bill' that promotes creationism in classrooms. The bill was approved in the House last year but now must return to that body for concurrence on a Senate amendment that made generally minor changes. One says the law applies to scientific theories that are the subject of 'debate and disputation' -- a phrase replacing the word "controversial" in the House version." [Knoxville News Sentinel]
JEFFREY IMMELT UPDATE - New York Post: "Back when he agreed to advise the Obama administration on economics, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt told friends that he thought it would be good for GE and good for the country. A life-long Republican, Immelt said he believed he could at the very least moderate the president's distinctly anti-business instincts...Don't expect Immelt to say anything publicly about the downside of president's economic agenda anytime soon: He's still serving as what is considered the top outside economic adviser to the White House. (A GE spokesman insists that the reports I'm sharing here about Immelt's private criticism of Obama are 'ludicrous.')" [NY Post]
Hertzberg conditionally lets Klein in. From "Seconding Ezra Klein" (excerpted from HuffPost Hill's forthcoming collection From the Department of Reëlection): "Given that I am a onetime White House speechwriter, you might imagine that I would be displeased with Ezra Klein's Political Scene essay in the March 19th New Yorker. Au contraire." Quite. [
RICK SANTORUM. PORN. - There's a 'You Don't Have Nixon To Kick Around Anymore" joke here somewhere. "The U.S. porn industry's movers and shakers accused Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Monday of pandering to conservative voters when he vowed to crack down on their business if elected. In a statement posted on his website, Santorum said the United States is 'suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography,' which he said has been shown to produce brain changes in children and adults, cause the destruction of marriages, and contribute to prostitution and violence against women. Santorum offered no evidence to back up those assertions. Steven Hirsch, who runs the Vivid Entertainment Group, dismissed them as 'ridiculous and just plain wrong.'... 'It just feels like another ridiculous attempt by Rick Santorum to appeal to the far right,' said Hirsch, chief executive and co-founder of Vivid, one of the industry leaders in the marketing of sex films, books and other ventures." [AP]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Two-year-old sings Adele.
WHAT'S JACK ABRAMOFF UP TO? - HuffPost DC: You won't ever see him on "Dancing With the Stars." "I don't dance and I'm not a star, so no, I would not appear on that program."
- These sixteen pictures of frogs should make you smile, unless you don't like frogs. [http://bit.ly/GBaax5]
- Pretty photos of far away places. Click. [http://bit.ly/qwX6h5]
- Not surprisingly, The Onion can write a great Craigslist ad. [http://huff.to/GzANBr]
- For one-hundred dollars and meta-cents, you can help fund a Kickstarter project to buy Kickstarter. [http://bit.ly/GAPIZC]
- Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson are recording a cover of "You're So Vain" because yeah. [http://bit.ly/GDYqss]
- Union Station is aging and interesting -- think of it as the Nick Nolte of mass transit. [http://bit.ly/GDKli7]
- Fans of Jeffrey Tambour and 90s satirical comedy, do we have a video for you. [http://bit.ly/GATimG]
@jbendery: Biden campaign email: "We've all got a dog in this fight." Not everyone. #seamus #neverforget
@brianbeutler: r a maniac, MANIAC, that's for sure! And you're dancing like you've never danced before! RT @SenatorBarb U
@delrayser: Yesterday SCOTUS heard case on whether postmortem IVF kids can claim SS survivor benefits. Pretty sure whole thing was a law school hypo.
6:00pm - 8:00pm: The social worker's lobby hosts a reception that seems kind of inspiring at first, but quickly turns depressing. Think of it as career advice. [2168 Rayburn]
5:30pm - 7:30pm: What's mucheasier than social work? Shilling for Big Ag! Canola oil lobbyists host a greasy reception with tons of food. So come on, let yourself be bought. It's delicious. [1300 Longworth]
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Reince Priebus is the guest of honor at a birthday party. He may be getting the gifts, but the thought of Reince Priebus in one of those pointy birthday hats is a gift that keeps on giving. Also it's called "Pints with Reince." [419 New Jersey Ave. SE]
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