POLITICS
03/21/2012 06:36 pm ET Updated May 21, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Do You Like Crumbling Infrastructure? Then Do We Have A Congress For You!

Like that pothole down the street, the transportation bill working its way through Congress will probably never be fixed. A Mitt Romney adviser analyzed his own campaign by referencing an Etch A Sketch (and thankfully not a Lite Brite). And Jay Carney called Republicans "aggressively and deliberately ignorant" of an important policy issue -- an attack that would have been infinitely more effective with an Etch A Sketch. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, March 21st, 2012:

GAME OF CHICKEN OVER TRANSPO BILL - Mike McAuliff: "The House has decided not to vote on the Senate's transportation bill, raising the odds that the measure will expire at the end of the month, leaving thousands of projects and many, many jobs in the lurch. The House, which, you'll remember, opposed a two-month extension of the pay oll tax cut because the uncertainty it would cause, instead wants a three-month extension. Explained Majority Leader Cantor: 'Well, uh, obviously the bill in the Senate is, has, a lot of amendments to it and a lot of different elements, and given the fact that we are up against the deadline of the authorization next week, we feel it's best not to allow for any disruption of funding, go ahead and pass a three-month extension, and see if we can come together on a much longer-term bill to provide the certainty that so many in industry want.' Informed that Harry Reid was not interested in the short-term deal, Cantor said: 'We're going to drive forward and hopefully be able to gain consensus on that matter because I'm sure that Majority Leader Reid doesn't want to cause any disruption to the flow of transportation dollars.'"

Al Franken remembered his original profession today. Mike McAuliff: "Somehow, it took Barbara Mikulski becoming the longest woman in Senate history for Al Franken -- the notoriously dour senator from Minnesota -- to remember what he used to do for a living. 'I love Barbara Mikulski. I love her because she calls me 'Franken.' That is just music to my ears. We're in the caucus lunch and I may be in her way, she goes, 'Franken! She's -- I'm not only a relatively junior senator, I actually kind of recently was a comedian at one point, and she's really funny... I remember the first time I saw her,' Franken said. 'She said that she talked about her first campaign ever, and I think it was for city council or something like that. And she said, "Well, I -- I knocked on 7,387 doors and I walked a total of 372 miles, and I didn't lose a pound."' Apparently Franken was in a groove. Earlier, at a presser on oil speculation, Franken let it be known that he is for more drilling. 'I favor the drilling in North Dakota. In fact I sent a birthday card to Sen. Hoeven, and asked him to discover oil in Minnesota.'"

EPIC ROMNEY OWN GOAL - Asked if pressure from Santorum and Gingrich is pushing Romney too far right, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom gave a disarmingly honest answer and a metaphor that will probably be with us for the rest of the campaign. "Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again." Wow! "We all knew Mitt Romney didn't have any core convictions, but we appreciate his staff going on national television to affirm that point for anyone who had any doubts," said Santorum spokesperson Hogan Gidley in a statement. [HuffPost's Sam Stein]

Collateral damage: Too many "shake" metaphors from political reporters.

ETCH A SKETCH SALES SKYROCKET - Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum had Etch A Sketch toys in their hands not long after Fehrnstrom's comment. Gingrich handed one to a little boy and told the child that now he, too, could be a presidential candidate. Etch A Sketch sales skyrocketed. [FamousDC]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A committee in the Arizona House of Representatives will consider today a Senate-passed bill that would require unemployed people to pass drug tests to be eligible for benefits. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry tells HuffPost that it opposes the bill because it conflicts with federal law, which means the state would forfeit federal tax credits and local businesses would see a massive unemployment tax hike. Don't expect this to slow down lawmakers, though -- the U.S. Labor Department had warned the state of this even before the Arizona Senate approved the measure, and the bill's sponsor told DDD he didn't much care what the federal government thinks. The weirdest part about it all is that Congress authorized states to do drug testing earlier this year, but Arizona is proceeding in a way that does not fit the new federal law. Nutty stuff. [Earlier on HuffPost]

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

JAY CARNEY: REPUBLICANS NEED TO FIX THEIR BUDGET TO BETTER PLEASE ONE OF OUR CORE CONSTITUENCIES ARE STUPID - The Hill: "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the Republicans who support his budget plan are 'aggressively and deliberately ignorant' when it comes to the need to invest in clean energy, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. Carney slammed Ryan's budget, taking particular aim at cuts to renewable energy programs, a top priority for the Obama administration. 'You have to be aggressively and deliberately ignorant of the world economy not to know and understand that clean energy technologies are going to play a huge role in the 21st century,' Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One Wednesday morning, adding that he is concerned about cuts to spending on Pell Grants." [The Hill]

ON ILYA SHEYMAN'S LOSS: WHY WAS HE EVEN RUNNING? A top MoveOn organizer's bid for Congress collapsed in an embarrassing heap last night, as Sheyman was drubbed in his Illinois Democratic primary despite the support of the progressive online community. From one lefty analyst: "I could've made a really strong argument that the maximum we could've raised wasn't enough to overcome the obstacles we were facing in that district. But even beyond that, Ilya, as a very persistent ideological progressive, could've probably done more in the state senate in the next years than he can in a hyper-polarized Congress that hasn't been able to pass shit. But we don't think like that. And our national groups think at the national level, and think state office goes to state groups, which is to our own detriment. We don't learn from what the other side has done, which is look at it as one giant chess board, and how we advance over the longterm."

SCORING THE COST OF PAUL RYAN'S BUDGET VIDEO - Awesome. WaPo: "Paul Ryan's budget plan earned plenty of attention for its cost, but now Democrats want to know how much it cost to unveil the plan. Lawmakers raised objections Tuesday to the release of two slickly produced videos featuring the Wisconsin Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee. In the first video released Friday, Ryan walks the hallways of a congressional building and speaks directly into the camera as he recounts the beginnings of the 2008 economic crisis and recent GOP efforts to curtail federal spending. A second video released Monday featured stock footage of 'everyday Americans' sitting in front of the TV or using an iPad and watching Ryan broadly outline his new plan. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) on Tuesday faulted Ryan for 'spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to do video tapes -- campaign style video tapes -- to talk about his budget'... According to financial disclosure forms, the panel paid $23,300 in the third quarter of 2011 and another $12,210 in the fourth quarter to Freethink Media, a D.C.-based video production firm. (Assuaging Becerra's fears, the $34,510 sum ranks well below the 2010 U.S. median household income of $50,046s.)" [WaPo]

A person said 'I love you' to President Obama in American Sign Language and President Obama signed back. Translated into ASL, President Obama's answer was 'thank you.' Translated into Republican, his answer was 'COME AT ME, BRO.' [Buzzfeed]

NICE GUY ANGLE CLEARLY NOT WORKING FOR RICK SANTORUM - AP: "Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is denouncing President Barack Obama's energy policies and his foreign relations as failures that contribute to spikes in gasoline prices. Santorum said Obama has done little to increase domestic energy production. He said opening more federal lands for exploration would increase revenue and help reduce the deficit. The former Pennsylvania senator spoke at a company on the outskirts of New Orleans that services oil rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico. He is campaigning to win Louisiana's primary on Saturday after getting trounced by Mitt Romney in Illinois Tuesday. Santorum also called Obama's Iran policy 'appeasement' that has emboldened the government to threaten to block oil shipments in the Strait of Hormuz, a major transportation route." [AP]

Ron Paul would really appreciate it if we could move the conversation to things that have nothing to do with his platform: "Ron Paul prescribed a lot of birth control during the four decades he worked as an obstetrician before becoming a congressman. 'I was also putting myself out of business, all this birth control,' he told Jay Leno on 'The Tonight Show' Tuesday. 'They had less babies.'" [HuffPost]

Heh. "Women aren't too happy with Rick Perry's stance on family planning funding. Monday, they let him know the best way they could, with some well-directed Internet snark. Posts asking Perry's advice about everything from menstruation to menopause flooded the governor's Facebook wall Monday morning. They've since been taken down, and new posting has been disabled, but screenshots document the whole episode." [Business Insider]

MITT ROMNEY NOT LIKED BY HIS POSSIBLE FUTURE EMPLOYEES - "Mitt Romney's campaign called on the Washington establishment for help this month. The response: a promise of cash, but not much enthusiasm. On Thursday morning, Romney's biggest supporters on Capitol Hill are supposed to come out with their best donors to help the GOP front-runner deepen his cash base. But the RSVP list is looking thin. Even though the fundraiser is expected to raise $400,000, the figure organizers say is the goal, only 27 of the nearly 80 lawmakers that endorsed Romney had signed on to raise money just two weeks ahead of the event, according a document obtained by POLITICO. The response reflects an uncomfortable reality for Romney: some Republicans are willing to pony up cash to help him beat President Barack Obama, but that doesn't mean he's widely loved." [Politico]

STEVE KING HATES OBAMACARE ALMOST AS MUCH AS HE HATES THAT PEOPLE LIKE IT - Steve King, who represents the wing of the GOP that genuinely hates Obamacare, is worried about the political implications of overturning it now. Mike McAuliff: "President Barack Obama's fate hinges on the Supreme Court's decision later this year on the constitutionality of his signature health care reform law, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) declared Wednesday. The Tea Party Republican didn't think winning the case would help Obama. Rather, losing it would improve the president's chances. 'If the Supreme Court should find this unconstitutional, which I believe is the appropriate decision, then we still need to repeal Obamacare to follow through on that. But I think then that there is more risk that President Obama will be reelected because people will think they are protected from this egregious reach into our freedom,' King said, speaking at a Capitol Hill news conference. On the other hand, King argued, 'If the Supreme Court finds it constitutional, then I believe President Obama will not be reelected because they [voters] will understand that they have to vote him out of office to repeal it.'" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - 8-bit, choose your own adventure "Mad Men." Yeah, we're excited, too.

George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin's Shooter, Is From The D.C. Area On HuffPost DC: George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida on Feb. 26, is originally from Northern Virginia.

COMFORT FOOD

- Holy crap the next version of SimCity looks so good it's probably going to cause the next recession. [http://t.co/JVkGpIbl]

- Tom Colicchio is ruthless, shrewd.[http://bit.ly/GGJ1Hx]

- Snooki's baby is already making money off of Snooki. Runs in the family. [http://on.vh1.com/GGMu8P]

- The original e=mc squared, straight from the source. [http://bit.ly/GFddpa]

- Life is hopeless, pt 4,323: A sad but awful purdy animated short. [http://on.vh1.com/GIwfLS]

- Otters who look like Benedict Cumberbatch because apparently there are Otters who look like Benedict Cumberbatch. [http://bit.ly/GFsJ0l]

- What comes after the Hipster? A trendy publication ponders. [http://bit.ly/GEh7ih]

TWITTERAMA

@rickklein: who says Santorum and Gingrich don't have campaign orgs? Both able to secure vintage Etch A Sketches in obscure places w/in a few hours.

@nirajchokski: "A faithful federal budget will ensure the common good." -- United Methodist Building, outside the Capitol.

@delrayser: Romney: Etch A Sketch. Newt: Etch-a-Kvetch. Santorum: Etch-a-Retch.

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT
6:00pm - 7:30pm: Reception for people who think US immigration laws are biased against LGBT couples. Which they are. [HVC 215]

6:00pm - 8:00pm: All the cool young progressives are going to Elizabeth Warren's party, making it a veritable meat market for vegetarians. [900 7th Street NW]

TOMORROW

9:00am - 5:00pm: Ever feel guilty taking a cab from the House to the Senate side? We do, too. Good news! Free PediCab Rides anywhere on the Hill all day, courtesy of the bicycle lobby. Call 202-425-0627 and remember to tip your cyclist.

7:00pm: Screening of the new documentary "Fear of A Black Republican," which spends 90 minutes tiptoeing around the question of why there are so few black Republicans in Congress. [555 11th St NW]

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