03/28/2012 05:39 pm ET Updated May 28, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - HCR: Journalists Giddily Prepare 'Flatline' Metaphors

Pro-child labor advocates are stepping up their Washington lobbying campaign (suggested slogan: Please, Sir! I Want Some More!!!). Proud Connecticutian George Herbert Walker Bush Sr. will provide a much-needed endorsement to Willard Mitt Romney, a known Massachusetts man. And spooked young people made the most of their parents' health plans by getting physicals, having their eyes checked... and getting bogus medical marijuana prescriptions for "Frito Lay deficit disorder." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, March 28th, 2012:

HEALTH CARE REFORM: WHITE HOUSE IS SO CONFIDENT ABOUT ITS SIGNATURE DOMESTIC LEGISLATION THAT IT NEVER REALLY THINKS ABOUT IT IN A SERIOUS WAY- Voters. Love. Confidence. Jen Bendery: "White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that the administration does not have a backup plan in the event that the Supreme Court strikes down the central piece of President Barack Obama's signature health care law -- the individual mandate -- or rejects the law in its entirety. 'There's no contingency plan in place,' Earnest told reporters at the daily White House briefing. 'We remain fully confident in the belief that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.' Earnest dismissed rounds of questions about how the White House could have no Plan B if the individual mandate, which penalizes people for not purchasing insurance, is deemed unconstitutional -- something that observers of this week's Supreme Court hearings on the matter have speculated is looking more likely. Earnest said anyone's judgments at this point are premature." [HuffPost]

Jeff Young with a look at what dropping the mandate means: "If the Supreme Court upholds the law, but knocks out the mandate requiring almost everyone to buy their products, the industry warns that health care reform will result in higher premiums and less access to coverage. In court and before the public, the Obama administration is making the same case. This isn't just bad for insurers who would be stuck with the bill. It would also be bad for consumers trying to find a health plan they can afford. Premiums for individuals who don't get insurance at work would be 2.4 percent to 40 percent higher and 12.5 million to 24 million fewer people would get coverage without the mandate, according to reports compiled by America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group. The estimates vary largely based on guesses about whether the law's subsidies would encourage uninsured people to get coverage even without mandates." Can we just do single payer already and be done with it? [HuffPost]

Dept of "Can your parents pay for your prayer until you're 26?": @harpers: Percentage of Americans who say they use prayer as a form of health care: 25 (Apr '93) #HarpersIndex

TRANSPORTATION BILL IS -- EVERYONE TOGETHER NOW! -- GRIDLOCKED - Mike McAuliff: "Senate leaders pleaded Wednesday for the House to pass a transportation bill before funding for thousands of projects across the country run out of money in three days. The Senate has already passed a two-year, $109 billion bill, but the House has been stuck trying to move anything, first failing to come up with the five-year plan that its leaders initially favored and then failing repeatedly this week to pass stop-gap extensions... House Democrats also favor passing the Senate measure and have refused to back the short-term bills supported by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). With 242 Republicans in his caucus, Boehner still hasn't gathered the 218 votes needed to pass something. Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, argued that House Democrats should sign on to a stop-gap extension to make up the vote gap and keep the money flowing. He predicted they would at the last minute." [HuffPost]

LABOR-FRIENDLY PARTY EXPANDING LABOR FRIENDLINESS TO CHILDREN - Rampant child labor hasn't been around for a while. You know what else hasn't been around for a while? The barter system. Also... people named "Mildred." Dave Jamieson: "Republicans have stepped up their efforts to block new rules from the Obama administration that would limit the work kids can do on farms, getting a boost from a small handful of Democrats who say they're opposing the regulations in the name of family farmers. GOP members of both the House and Senate introduced bills this month that would preempt regulations proposed by the Labor Department forbidding kids under 16 from doing certain agricultural duties deemed too dangerous. The Senate version quickly found a backer in Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the first Democrat to sign on as co-sponsor. Tester and fellow Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) have joined 39 Senate Republicans in opposing the new rules." [HuffPost]

K STREET FIGHT: BIG ONE-DOLLAR BILL VERSUS BIG TREE - Running in tomorrow's Roll Call from Janie Lorber: "Crane & Co., the Massachusetts-based company that provides the paper for the nation's currency, is rushing to the defense of the greenback now that Congress might actually eliminate the dollar bill. In the last several months, the company has tripled its lobbying expenditures, brought on a new team of lobbyists led by former House Minority Leader Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and helped plaster Washington's Metro Center train station with advertisements -- the political equivalent of a shriek. With legislation to eliminate the dollar bill in favor of a dollar coin gaining traction in both chambers, the parochial tug of war between paper and copper has become an increasingly public battle. Even the Obama administration's decision to halt the production of new coins in mid-December did not stop both sides from pouring more money into lobbying, polling and advertisements."


DRUG TESTING BILL SO DUMB LABOR & CAPITAL CALL TRUCE - Arizona's business community has mobilized against an effort in the state legislature to make jobless Arizonans pee in cups in order to receive unemployment insurance. A bill to drug test the jobless passed the state Senate last month and is up for consideration in the state House. The Republicans pushing the legislation seem unconcerned that if it were to become law, the drug testing bill would trigger a massive tax hike for Arizona businesses. [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - It's not clear what would happen to the 50,000 people enrolled in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan if the Supreme Court rules unfavorably on health care reform. Mary Duffy, who is 62 and lives in Redwood City, Calif., is covered by the program for $557 a month and figures an unfavorable ruling would doom her policy. "I'm very nervous," she said. "I think the insurance companies, certainly those involved in PCIP, would be very quick to rearrange our premiums. Why would they not be? Within 90 days I'll be getting an extraordinary premium increase and I'll be dropping the insurance." [HuffPost's DDD and Jeffrey Young]

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POLLS INDICATE PRESIDENT OBAMA LEADING IN CRUCIAL SWING STATES, SUGGEST MITT ROMNEY SHOULD TRY HARDER - Sam Stein: "Quinnipiac University is out with a series of new swing state polls on Wednesday morning showing generally good news for President Obama. In Florida, Obama tops Mitt Romney 49 percent to 42 percent; while beating Rick Santorum 50 percent to 37 percent. In Ohio, Obama beats Romney 47 to 41 percent and Santorum 47 to 40 percent. In Pennsylvania, Obama edges Romney 45 to 42 percent, while topping Santorum 48 to 41 percent...The more telling numbers may come from the Washington Post/ABC poll also released on Wednesday morning, which found that the former Massachusetts governor just, plainly, isn't all that liked." [HuffPost]

FIRST LADY TO DO INCREDIBLY COMPASSIONATE THING/ENGAGE IN RUTHLESS, CHICAGO-STYLE POLITICS - HuffPost: "Michelle Obama will speak at three college graduation ceremonies this spring... Mrs. Obama's first commencement address will be at Virginia Tech [Editor's Note: Be a kindhearted person and... you know... Virginia]... Mrs. Obama will also speak at North Carolina A&T, a historically black university [Editor's Note: Get out the vote]... Mrs. Obama will also deliver the commencement address at Oregon State University, which has been recognized for its efforts to promote healthy communities, a key priority of the first lady. Mrs. Obama's brother, Craig Robinson, is the coach of the school's men's basketball team [Editor's Note: Track covering and a chance to remind the hippies to vote -- they're probably too stoned to remember]." [HuffPost]

WAM DEBATES LARRY FLINT, PARIS HILTON - Recently, HuffPost's Ariel Edwards-Levy compiled a list of the "small businesses" that would be eligible for a huge tax cut being pushed through the House. Ways and Means Dem Xavier Becerra reads HuffPost. Here's a snippet of a much longer exchange that went on and on like this: BECERRA: My understanding is that Larry Flynt Productions has about 117 employees ... would they also qualify for that small business tax cut? Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Thomas Barthold: If they are less than 500, yes. BECERRA: So Paris Hilton Entertainment, which has five employees and is based in Beverly Hills ... they qualify for that small business tax cut? BARTHOLD: Yes they would, sir. [YouTube]

BUSH 41 TO GOP ESTABLISHMENT: YEAH, HE'LL DO - Politico: "On Thursday, former President George H.W. Bush will formalize his support of Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential at an event in Houston, Romney officials said Wednesday. Bush, who in December told the Houston Chronicle that 'I think Romney is the best choice for us' met with Romney shortly before Christmas, but has not made any public campaign appearances with the former Massachusetts governor. The 87-year-old former president joins his son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in offering Romney formal support, though Jeb Bush has not campaigned with Romney." [Politico]

A cache of sensitive computer equipment was stolen from Mitt Romney's campaign. Campaign workers are scrambling to minimize the crisis, as politically damaging info like Mitt's thoughts on his favorite shade of taupe and which type of spackle *sounds* the best might be disclosed to the public. AP: "Laptops and iPads containing sensitive information about Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney's campaign were stolen from an SUV in San Diego last week. The electronics were stolen last Friday from a rental car parked car in San Diego, the Romney campaign confirmed Tuesday. The items belonged to two Romney campaign staffers. The thefts were first reported by KGTV, a local San Diego TV station. Two laptops, two iPads and two handheld radios were taken." [AP]

Mitt Romney is leading in Pennsylvania, the state where Rick Santorum was once an unapologetic frat boy... and also a senator. GOP 2012: "A new Franklin & Marshall College poll shows that Mitt Romney has shaved off 13% of Rick Santorum's lead in PA in one month. NEW NUMBERS: 1. Rick Santorum 30% 2. Mitt Romney 28% 3. Ron Paul 9% 4. Newt Gingrich 6%. Meanwhile, Santorum continues to sport higher favorable ratings than Romney, but not by much (+28% vs. +21%, respectively)." [GOP 2012]

The 1940 Census was recently released and the good folks at the Bureau have kindly provided nifty infographics to illustrate the differences between now and then. Main takeaways: America is larger, paying more rent.

REPUBLICAN ADMONISHES DEMOCRAT FOR NOT DRESSING LIKE A REPUBLICAN - File alongside, "No Senator, That's Not The Gentleman Who Parks Your Car At The Capitol Hill Club" and "No, No, No, It's OK, You're Misunderstanding Me. I Mean, I've Seen 'Roots.'" Jen Bendery: "Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) was thrown off the House floor Wednesday after wearing a hoodie and sunglasses in protest of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida...Rush began citing passages from the Bible about the need 'to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God' and about being 'sent ... to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to recover the sight to the blind and to set the oppressed free .... I urge all men who hear these words to heed these lessons.' Rep. Greg Harper (R-Miss.), who was presiding over the chamber at the moment, repeatedly hammered the gavel and tried to interrupt Rush, but he kept talking with a louder voice. 'May God bless Trayvon Martin's soul, his family,' Rush shouted. He was still yelling as he was escorted off the floor by the House Sergeant at Arms. Harper said Rush violated House rules by wearing a hoodie and reminded those in the chamber of the rules." America totally doesn't have a race problem. Not at all. [HuffPost]

"(R-Miss.)"... + 10,000,000 poetry points.

NO MORE TUNNELS OF DOOM? - On HuffPost DC: Congressional leaders "are starting to plan for Inauguration 2013 and hope to avoid the debacle from 2009 when thousands were stuck in the Third Street tunnel."

Jason Linkins: "Allen West Is Upset About Rule Allowing Handicapped Access To Commercial Swimming Pools"

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

Death from above, mate: "Australia on Wednesday said it may allow Washington to use its territory to operate long-range spy drones, as part of an increased US presence in the Asia-Pacific that has rankled China. The United States and Canberra are planning a major expansion of military ties, with the first of a 2,500-strong Marine deployment to northern Australia unveiled last November by President Barack Obama due to arrive next month. The plan has irked Beijing and worried some Asian countries who see it as a statement by Washington that it intends to stand up for its interests in the region amid concerns of increasing assertiveness by China." [AFP]

By @bradjshannon!

- Ten minutes of Rube Goldberg machinery from folks at London's Science Museum. [http://bit.ly/HnCuSC]

- Great Dane wakes from a great nap. [http://bit.ly/HnwObt]

- Little boy learns he's being followed by mysterious two-dimensional projection. [http://bit.ly/HnxBJo]

- These are happy cows. [http://bit.ly/HnyuBN]

- NASA observes ocean currents and turns the info into a video version of "Starry Night." [http://vrge.co/HnztSj]

- These high-schoolers are making a Battlestar Gallactica flight simulator. What the frak? [http://vrge.co/HnAbyT]

- Animal House was Kevin Bacon's first movie? [http://bit.ly/HnAxFZ]


@delrayser: For his next trick, @JeffreyToobin to pick next year's Super Bowl winner based only on coaches' preseason press conferences.

@elisefoley: Oh look, it's @eliotnelson in the Washingtonian! Picture also starring @dave_jamieson, @ryangrim & two forms of alcohol bit.ly/HgfsiE

@jim_newell: Jeffrey Toobin suggests that after morning session, earth is expected to be sucked into black hole and everyone dead forever.

By @christinawilkie


5:30pm: Two stodgy old codgers host a shameless ploy to lure young drinkers free happy hour with video games. Nice try, Washington Times and Microsoft! [201 Massachusetts Ave, NE]

6:30pm - 8:00pm: There's an exclusive set of Hill receptions that every member will swing by at some point in the night, because they're politically perfect -- the Tao of receptions. The 125th Anniversary of the United Way is one of those. [SVC 212]


12:00pm: Madeleine Albright hosts a lunch for Elizabeth Warren, in what some are calling a match made in liberal, feminist, intellectual heaven. [15 Arlington Street, Boston]

6:30pm: American Expats love to obsess over US elections from the comfort of their civilized, Gingrich-free locales. But an Obama fundraiser in Paris just feels like rubbing it in. [Some nice restaurant, Paris, France]

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