An Obama administration report finds hospitals charging wildly different prices for the same procedures, meaning you could be massively overspending on your death panel. A majority of Virginians support stricter gun control laws, though they'll think twice when the state is awarded a D grade by the NRA. And it was revealed at the House's Benghazi hearing that Hillary Clinton was responsible for the attacks *and* is the Saudi National *AND* paid all of Kermit Gosnell medical school bills. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 8th, 2013:
HOUSE GOP PASSES BILL GUTTING OVERTIME LAWS - The bill is called the "Working Families Flexibility Act" so you know it's just awful (had it been called the "Working Families Job Security Act," it probably would have re-legalized slavery). Dave Jamieson: "As part of their efforts to rebrand the GOP as a more caring party, House Republicans passed a hotly debated bill Wednesday that would loosen federal overtime laws, allowing for 'comp' time instead of pay for private-sector employees who work more than 40 hours in a week. Although GOP legislators made a strong public-relations push for the bill as worker-friendly legislation, the measure is not expected to go anywhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the White House said Monday that the president would be advised to veto such legislation since it would weaken protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act...The measure passed by a vote of 223-204 along party lines... hourly workers must be paid time-and-a-half for every hour they work over 40 in a week -- both to reward workers for their extra hours and to discourage employers from pushing workers too hard. The Republican measure would instead give employers and their workers the choice to use earned 'comp' time instead of pay, an opportunity already afforded many public-sector employees." [HuffPost]
WHITE HOUSE CHARM OFFENSIVE CONTINUES - Jen Bendery: "President Barack Obama played golf with senators on Monday and is having dinner with House Democratic leaders on Wednesday evening, but he's not the only one in the White House trying to build closer ties on Capitol Hill: his chief of staff Denis McDonough is, too. McDonough was spotted by a HuffPost reader Monday night having dinner with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) at Lincoln Restaurant here. It turns out that dinner is just the latest in a string of one-on-one meetings McDonough has been having with Democratic and Republican lawmakers. "Over the last several weeks, Denis has reached out individually to members of Congress in both parties," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement. 'Earlier this week, he had dinner with Leader Cantor and enjoyed the conversation.'" [HuffPost]
HEMP! - A chance encounter at last weekend's Kentucky Derby may have given the hemp industry the break it's been looking for since the crop was banned in 1970 when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to pot. Kentucky's Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer, a Republican, was at a private pre-derby party when he found himself chatting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his chief of staff Mike Sommers. Comer talked shop. The topic at hand was the fate of the hemp industry in Kentucky, which, should the federal government approve the crop's planting and harvesting, could become the first in the nation to allow the cultivation of hemp. Boehner and Sommers were interested enough to invite him and the bill sponsors to meet in Washington. On Tuesday night, Boehner sat down with Comer and the bill's lead sponsors, Republican Paul Hornback and Democrat Jonathan Miller, who moonlights as a HuffPost blogger. Sommers confirmed the meeting took place. Boehner told the trio he would talk with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about how a federal bill might be moved forward. On Thursday, Comer and the Kentucky legislators will meet with McConnell, who surprised observers back home by endorsing Hornback's hemp bill, a move that quickly brought the state GOP in line. The most likely path to passage for hemp legislation runs through the farm bill, attached as an amendment. That bill will begin to be debated next week, fortuitous timing for hemp.
DAVE DOWNER - Amazon's warehouse workers are treated like criminals. Dave Jamieson: "Whenever he clocked out after his 12-hour shift at an Amazon warehouse, Jesse Busk had one more critical task to perform before he could hop into his car and head home to sleep: Pass through the sprawling warehouse security checkpoint. The purpose of the checkpoint was to prevent workers like Busk from pilfering electronics or other pricey goods from the Amazon stock. The process deeply annoyed Busk, but not because of any indignity he may have felt in being checked for contraband. What bothered him was the time it required after an exhausting day -- up to 25 minutes, all of it unpaid. 'You're just standing there, and everyone wants to get home,' said the 36-year-old Busk, who lives in Nevada. 'It was not comfortable. There could be hundreds of people waiting at the end of the shift.'" [HuffPost]
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HOUSE BENGHAZI HEARING: WHY DIDN'T HILLARY CLINTON ANSWER HER 3 AM PHONE?!? - NYT: "Gregory Hicks described a frantic series of phone calls from the American Embassy in Tripoli to Washington and, ultimately, to J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador, who was in Benghazi and whose line went dead right after he uttered, 'Greg, we're under attack.' Fearing that armed Islamic militants might storm the embassy in Tripoli, staff members there hurriedly dismantled their sensitive communications equipment and got ready to evacuate to a more secure annex operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. One aide started smashing hard drives with an ax...Ultimately, the hearing may resolve few if any of the questions that Republicans have raised about how robustly the military responded to the attack. The answers the witnesses provided Wednesday left both sides stuck where they were before: Republicans insisted that the military could have done more to scramble fighter jets and deploy combat forces to help fight off the militants, while Democrats were firm that the military did all it could in a confusing situation in which the closest help was too far away." [NYT]
TED CRUZ DOES NOT WANT TO BE PRESIDENT - Unless the GOP somehow found a way to win without Hispanic voters. Because then maybe he still wants to be president. Elise Foley: "Among the 300 amendments to the Senate immigration bill is one that would take away one of its central purposes: giving a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), an almost certain 'no' vote on the bill from the so-called gang of eight, filed an amendment on Tuesday to ban anyone who has been in the U.S. without status from becoming a citizen at any point...Other Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have also proposed measures that would fundamentally change the bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) filed a whopping 77 amendments, while Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) filed 49." [HuffPost]
Jeff sessions wants you to give us your your energized, your rich, your huddled few yearning to inject VC dollars into the economy. Elise Foley: "The bipartisan Senate immigration bill would already make becoming a legal permanent resident a costly process for undocumented immigrants. But if Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) gets his way, it would also require immigrants to prove they have an average annual income four times higher than the federal poverty line, which, for a family of four, is more than $94,000." [HuffPost]
HERITAGE IMMIGRATION REPORT CO-AUTHOR IS MAJOR EUGENICIST - Unless it's revealed that Jim DeMint is an avid phrenologist who carries one of those head measurers around, this won't get worse for the conservative think tank. WaPo: "Jason Richwine is relatively new to the think tank world. He received his PhD in public policy from Harvard in 2009, and joined Heritage after a brief stay at the American Enterprise Institute. Richwine's doctoral dissertation is titled 'IQ and Immigration Policy'... Richwine's dissertation asserts that there are deep-set differentials in intelligence between races. While it's clear he thinks it is partly due to genetics -- 'the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ' -- he argues the most important thing is that the differences in group IQs are persistent, for whatever reason. He writes, 'No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.'" OK! That's incredibly racist! In the most literal sense of the word! [WaPo]
Jon Ward has the full dissertation.
BACHMANN NEGOTIATING LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT - Star Tribune: "U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is engaged in settlement negotiations in a lawsuit alleging that senior members of her presidential campaign stole a proprietary e-mail list of home-school families from the computer of an Iowa campaign staffer, according to sources close to the case. The Minnesota Republican reportedly traveled to Des Moines Monday to meet with attorneys for Barb Heki, an Iowa woman who sued the campaign last year alleging the theft of the list, which eventually was used to contact Iowa home-schoolers... The suit implicates Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson in the alleged theft. Sorenson, once Bachmann's Iowa campaign chairman, is now the subject of an inquiry by the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, which called for a special investigator last week Sorenson also is being investigated for taking payments to support Bachmann -- a possible violation of Iowa Senate ethics rules intended to bar lawmakers from taking paid positions in presidential campaigns." [Star Tribune]
A majority of Virginians support stricter gun regulations, though the state has yet to be given a C- ranking by the NRA. NBC News: In another finding from the new NBC News/Marist poll, 55 percent of Virginia residents say they want stricter laws governing the sale of firearms, versus 36 percent who want them left the same. Reflecting Virginia's status as a key national swing state -- President Obama twice won it by the same margin he won the national popular vote -- those numbers are virtually identical to the national ones from the April NBC/WSJ poll... Eighty-two percent of Democrats in Virginia want stricter gun laws, compared with 56 percent of independents and just 29 percent of Republicans. What's more, only 30 percent of gun owners and 38 percent of those living in households with guns favor stricter gun laws, suggesting a deep divide on this issue between gun owners and non-gun owners." [NBC News]
DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE GETTING THAT NECKLIFT: GOVERNMENT - The Obama administration is forcing your ENT guy to abandon his plans for that house in the Hamptons and downgrade to ::shudder:: the Berkshires. Jeff Young and Chris Kirkham: "The database released on Wednesday by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lays out for the first time and in voluminous detail how much the vast majority of American hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures billed to Medicare. The database -- which covers claims filed within fiscal year 2011 -- spans 163,065 individual charges recorded at 3,337 hospitals located in 306 metropolitan areas. The Obama administration shared the data in advance with The Huffington Post, The New York Times and The Washington Post. What emerges through a preliminary analysis is a snapshot of an incoherent system in which prices for critical medical services vary seemingly at random... These price differences impose a uniquely punishing burden on the estimated 49 million Americans who have no health insurance, experts say...Yet these same prices effectively shape what nearly everyone pays for health care, because they determine how much private health insurance companies must surrender in reimbursement for services." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - April's best internet cats.
HARRY REID: ICE COLD - You know what's a dangerous game to play when you're a senator? Shutting out people who've fathered children during an extramarital affair. Because lawmakers never do that. Sabrina Siddiqui: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he declined a request from former Sen. Pete Domenici to meet last week, pointing to the New Mexico Republican's recent admission that he secretly fathered a child during an extramarital affair 30 years ago. Reid's comments came while discussing efforts to address mental health in an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal on Monday. The Nevada senator cited Domenici as a strong advocate for improving mental health care during his time in Congress, but went on to say he had turned the former senator down when Domenici asked for an appointment last week. 'I don't mention Domenici's name anymore because of what he did to Michelle Laxalt,' Reid said. 'I wouldn't let him come and see me. But anyway, that's another story.'" [HuffPost]
- YouTube a launched a trends map showing which videos are popular in different regions of the country. Charles Ramsey is apparently America's sweetheart. [http://bit.ly/13f3tN4]
- Oh, and Charles Ramsey has been auto-tuned because this is the internet we're talking about here. [http://huff.to/18Vcuuy]
- Because pizza is still better than quinoa, here's an app that directs you to the nearest pizzeria. [http://bit.ly/13hmgXW]
- Michigan's upper peninsula isn't all snowmobiles and venison sausage, it's also this time-lapse video of the northern lights. [http://huff.to/18VkjQR]
- True facts about the tapir, presented as a children's story. [http://bit.ly/11bgGbV]
- Comedian and social media savant Rob Delaney was given the keys to Major League Baseball's Twitter account. [http://bit.ly/16X0c8e]
- Today's Google Doodle honors the work of famed title sequence designer Saul Bass. [http://bit.ly/ZNVkOK]
@max_read: if you go into the bathroom and turn off the lights and say benghazi three times into the mirror caspar weinberger will appear and KILL you
@StephenAtHome: If I had my druthers, I'd have someone explain to me what 'druthers' are.
@daveweigel: I'm happy to announce that I am not changing jobs, and have nothing new going on.
6:00 pm: Mary Landrieu who voted for the background check bill, thus making every liberal in the country forget about her dismal environmental record, gets an assist from Babs herself, Barbara Mikulski. [405 East Capitol Street SE]
6:30 pm: John Thune hosts a campaign function at meat hall/music space Hill Country Barbecue. Gotta love the brisket. [Hill Country, 410 7th Street NW]
8:30 am: Does the image of Orrin Hatch eating oatmeal make you laugh? Orrin Hatch? Oatmeal? Utah Senator Orrin Hatch? No? Anyhoo, you might get to see the guy eat some oatmeal at his breakfast fundraiser. [Monocle, 107 D Street NE]
9:00 am: If we were hosting Tim Scott's "Ag Breakfast," we'd only serve animal feed corn to make a point about our country's dysfunctional agriculture, and to watch people make faces when they eat tasteless corn. [National Cattlemen's Beef Assn PAC, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave NW]
6:30 pm: Do you like freedom? Do you want to keep it from going bankrupt? Then does Mike Crapo have the PAC for you! The Idaho senator raises money for his Freedom Fund PAC. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]
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