Today is the first day of August, the month when Washingtonians don't work as hard and [JOKE TK]. The White House is upset that a libertarian Hawaiian forced to spend the rest of his life in Vladimir Putin's Russia won't be punished for his alleged crimes. And a baby was born on the platform at L'Enfant Plaza, but knowing Metro it was probably fined for not swiping at the departure station. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, August 1st, 2013:
HOUSE REPUBLICANS PROPOSE DEEPER FOOD STAMP CUTS - Before you get offended, Kristi Noem has a clipping about the Oliver Twist diet from last month's Cosmo that you should really check out. Delaney: "Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are considering a new food stamp bill that would cut nutrition assistance by twice as much as a previous bill that died on the House floor last month. The previous measure would have reduced spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $20.5 billion over 10 years, or roughly 2 percent of the program's $800 billion cost in that time frame. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), one of the Republicans huddling on food stamps since then, said the new proposal would have deeper cuts. 'The total package was looked at more from the policy stand point rather than dollars,' Noem said, according to CQ/Roll Call. 'I think the total cuts are projected to be about $40 billion of reduction in spending on the nutrition title.' House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) echoed that number during a lunch in Washington with members of the Agribusiness Club, according to Agri-Pulse, a farm industry paper...A GOP aide confirmed the House nutrition working group was nearing a proposal that could cut as much as $40 billion from SNAP, but said the framework had not been finalized. Whatever the House passes would have to be merged with the Senate's farm bill, which cut less than 1 percent from SNAP." [HuffPost]
If your meeting with Mitch McConnell was canceled, it's because the Senate minority leader is scribbling "Draft Ashley" posters in his hideaway office." "According to the survey -- conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America -- Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's Democratic secretary of state who officially entered the race on Tuesday, leads the longtime senator by one point, with 45 percent to McConnell's 44 percent. While her lead is within the margin of error, the poll also underscored some broader issues that McConnell is likely to face as he campaigns for a sixth term. At 51 percent, a majority of Kentuckians say they disapprove of McConnell's job performance, while 40 percent approve and 9 percent are undecided." [HuffPost's Nick Wing]
POLITICIAN ACCEPTS MONEY DESPITE MORALS - Mike McAuliff: "Embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) is facing better-funded primary challengers and hasn't got much money in his campaign account or his political action committee. So it could be seen as somewhat surprising that he was willing to give some away. During his last reelection campaign in 2012, it was revealed that the anti-abortion politician and doctor pressured a mistress to get an abortion and agreed to his then-wife getting two. So it also might seem a bit unusual that another anti-abortion Republican would take his money. Nevertheless, the most recent federal campaign filings show that Republican Rep. Steve Southerland accepted $1,000 from DesJarlais' PAC, TN4U, in the end of June." [HuffPost]
U.S. INTELLIGENCE GETTING ALL UP IN NEW ZEALAND'S BUSINESS - Hey, remember the final scene of "Three Days of the Condor?" That was a good movie. Michael Calderone: "The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is looking into a newspaper report that U.S. intelligence agencies helped New Zealand's military spy on a journalist working for the McClatchy newspaper chain, a spokesman told The Huffington Post. On Tuesday, the McClatchy Company, the third-largest newspaper chain in the United States, pressed the Obama administration for answers after New Zealand's Sunday Star-Times reported that the New Zealand Defense Force, with U.S. assistance, intercepted metadata from the cellphone of Jon Stephenson, a journalist reporting for McClatchy in Afghanistan. The New Zealand military could use the metadata to determine who Stephenson 'had phoned and then who those people had phoned, creating what the sources called a ‘tree’ of the journalist's associates,' according to the report. Such a collection of data could potentially sweep in McClatchy reporters and editors in contact with Stephenson while he was working for the news organization." [HuffPost]
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FREDDIE MAC RESTRUCTURING CZAR NOMINATED TO LEAD IRS - John Koskinen will be personally make sure your application granting "Americans For A Less Intrusive Government" 501(c)(4) status is denied while seeing to it that the application for "American For The Destruction Of Family" is fast-tracked. NBC News: "President Barack Obama named a new, full-time commissioner of the IRS on Thursday, giving the besieged agency a permanent leader. Obama nominated John Koskinen, a veteran of government service who helped oversee the restructuring of mortgage giant Freddie Mac in the aftermath of the 2008-09 recession, to lead the IRS. 'John is an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform,' Obama said in a statement. 'With decades of experience, in both the private and public sectors, John knows how to lead in difficult times, whether that means ensuring new management or implementing new checks and balances.' The IRS, of course, has become the target of Republicans' ire following revelations in May that the tax-collection agency had inappropriately scrutinized conservative and Tea Party groups in their applications for tax-exempt status. Obama fired the active IRS commissioner, Stephen Miller, at the time; Daniel Werfel has been serving as interim acting IRS commissioner since late May." [NBC News]
GOP LEADERSHIP OPPOSING SEQUESTRATION FIXES - Mike McAuliff: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) served notice Thursday that the deep cuts under the federal budget sequestration are here to stay as Senate Republicans filibustered a bipartisan bill to fund transportation, housing and urban development. The Senate legislation, which had passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee with six GOP votes last month, aimed to set the funding for those programs at levels agreed to under the 2011 Budget Control Act... The bill would spend $51.7 billion. But five of those Republicans changed their minds and blocked the bill in a 54-43 vote Thursday, denying the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. McConnell had lobbied for the filibuster for days and repeated his position just before the vote, saying that Congress must abide by the spending levels of the sequester. Just a day earlier, Boehner had pulled the House version of the legislation from consideration amid concerns from Democrats and some members of his own party that it cut too deeply. It aimed to set spending on roads, bridges, housing, community development block grants and other efforts at $44.1 billion -- $4.1 billion below this year's sequestration level -- as was envisioned in the House budget plan from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier this year." [HuffPost]
Univision interviews Carlos Danger, asks great question: "Why did you pick a Hispanic name and how dangerous were you really?"
@MetroTransitPD A baby was just delivered ON THE PLATFORM at L'Enfant Plaza. MTPD on scene. Additional details will follow.
DEM SUPER PACS WINNING 2014 SO FAR - Paul Blumenthal: "Super PACs are set to be a massive force in the 2014 midterms, having collectively raised $59 million during the first half of this year. That's more than twice the amount they raised over the same period in 2011. The unlimited-contribution groups, made possible by the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision and a subsequent lower court ruling, are already ahead of the spending pace set in 2011 for the first six months of the election cycle. Super PACs were major players in the House, Senate and, especially, presidential races in the last two elections. Republican groups and donors have dominated the super PAC field, spending two out of every three super PAC dollars in the 2012 campaign and nearly three out of every five in the 2010 campaign. But a similar Republican dominance has not yet emerged in the 2014 election cycle. Instead, Democratic super PACs are leading so far this year, with the seven top fundraising super PACs either having backed Democratic candidates in the past or currently supporting Democratic policy priorities...24 Democratic-leaning groups have raised $37.9 million while 23 Republican-leaning groups have received just $15.6 million." [HuffPost]
Immigration activists distributed cantoloupes to congressional offices this morning, fruits that will help the interns with their Paul Ryan-stalking hangovers: "Immigration advocates delivered a juicy surprise to House lawmakers on Thursday morning. Members from pro-immigration reform groups United Farm Workers, United We Dream and America's Voice sent cantaloupes to the 224 representatives who voted for an amendment two months ago offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). The amendment, which passed the House 224-201, would end the Department of Homeland Security's discretion in delaying low-priority deportations, effectively forcing the government to expel young, undocumented immigrants from the country. Attached to the cantaloupes were the messages, 'This cantaloupe was picked by immigrants in California,' and 'You gave Steve King a vote. Give us a vote for citizenship.'" [HuffPost ]
WHITE HOUSE ANGERED BY EDWARD SNOWDEN'S ADMITTANCE INTO RUSSIA - The Hill: "The White House is 'extremely disappointed' with the Kremlin for granting temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old Defense contractor who leaked details of top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs. 'We see this as an unfortunate development, and we are extremely disappointed by it,' White House press secretary Jay Carney said. The Kremlin acted 'despite our very clear and lawful requests in public and private,' he added. Carney also said the White House was 'evaluating the utility' of a scheduled bilateral summit in Moscow next month, a further indication the U.S. may pull the plug on the one-on-one talks between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin." [The Hill]
E.W. JACKSON: DEMOCRATS ARE ANTI-GOD - We'll pass this along to Terry McAuliffe at the next humanist potluck. Salon: "In a local radio interview this morning, Virginia Republican lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson said the Democratic Party is 'anti-God' and that Christians should leave it. Jackson has said in the past that he thinks believing in God and voting Democratic are fundamentally incompatible, so WLEE host Jack Gravely asked if he still believes... Jackson didn’t back down... 'Oh, Oh, oh I do believe it,' Jackson responded. He continued: 'I said it because I believe that the Democrat party has become an anti-God party, I think it’s an anti-life party, I think it’s an anti-family party. And these are all things I think Christians hold to very dearly.'...Jackson, a bishop and outspoken social conservative, has run intro trouble for his stridently anti-gay and antiquated social views in the past. Even his running mate, the state’s GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli, who is no San Francisco liberal himself, has distanced his campaign from Jackson’s." [Salon]
Cory Booker says he'll be too busy helping wide-eyed children with their homework and rescuing wide-eyed balinese cats from burning buildings to appear on a 2016 ticket. Politico: "The Newark, N.J. mayor and runaway front-runner in the special election for the seat of late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s ruled out a presidential run or serving on the ticket of another candidate in the next national campaign. 'Absolutely yes, unequivocally,' Booker told POLITICO as he left a senior center in Paterson, N.J., when asked whether he would rule out running himself or being the vice presidential nominee...The question arose after a Booker appearance in Iowa this month was scuttled over timing because of the special election primary, which is on Aug. 13." [Politico]
RECOVERY LEAVING LOW-WAGE WORKERS BEHIND - Dave Jamieson: "According to a recent analysis by the National Employment Law Project, the biggest losses in real wages during the economic recovery have been concentrated in low- and middle-income job categories. In other words, any nominal raises that many workers received have been wiped out by inflation, essentially leaving them with less money to cover their bills. (These workers also took a sizable hit earlier this year with the expiration of the temporary payroll tax cut, which had been lowered by 2 percentage points for two years as a stimulative measure.)...In the short term, the stagnation boils down to a simple lack of bargaining power on behalf of workers, said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. With unemployment still high at 7.6 percent, workers who are desperate for jobs don't have the power to wrangle much more pay out of their bosses. As a result, companies don't necessarily need to offer raises that even keep up with inflation in order to keep their workers." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a fearless cat.
KEITH ELLISON DOES ADORABLE THING - TPM: "A jubilant Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) posted a video to his YouTube account Thursday celebrating the first day gay marriage became legal in his state. 'Tomorrow, marry who you want, marry who you love,' Ellison said, after bursting into song [Woodie Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land"]. 'It's all going on tomorrow because people got involved, people got active, because people did not sit back and wait for something to happen nor did they cry about bad things that were happening.'" [TPM]
- Seven sites you should be wasting time on right now, including "Rappers and Cereal." [http://huff.to/166ZUrP]
- Pyrosomes are just about the weirdest thing the ocean has to offer. [http://bit.ly/1chdjUq]
- Hope and Rosey the dogs enjoy dinner, and dancing about it. [http://bit.ly/15foRVm]
- "Wolverine: A Film by Woody Allen." [http://bit.ly/13pVRIE]
- So Queen Elizabeth drafted a speech in the event of nuclear war. Jolly good. [http://bbc.in/13BbcBz]
- Eat your heart out, Yogi Bear: Bear steals ENTIRE DUMPSTER. [http://bit.ly/11xjBt1]
- Make your own hipster logo with this handy design guide. [http://bit.ly/18P2y7M]
@toddzwillich: BREAKING: Person travels through tunnel, arrives early at Metro station
@dceiver: Be glad that we have a system of government that can, you know, from time to time, shut that whole thing down, as they say.
@stevenjldamico: Steve King cantaloupe, he's already married.
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