Scott Brown is trailing Jeanne Shaheen, but it doesn't matter, because Rhode Island is like a second home to him. Richard Nixon once said on tape, ‘Well, now, kids, just go out and be gay,’ and if that isn’t your ringtone by tomorrow morning, you probably hate America. And John Boehner announced he's going to sue the Obama administration over the employer mandate, thereby busting every journalist's Boehner Bracket (HuffPost Hill had environmental regulations going to the finals). This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, July 10th, 2014:
BOEHNER REVEALS LAWSUIT WILL BE OVER OBAMACARE'S BUSINESS MANDATE - It's not about immigration enforcement after all. "Today we're releasing a draft resolution that will authorize the House to file suit over the way President Obama unilaterally changed the employer mandate," Boehner said this afternoon. "In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own." [Speaker.gov]
Yes, Republicans want to sue the president for not enforcing a business regulation.
U.S. CHAMBER WOULD LIKE TO KEEP ITS WAGE THEFT KTHXBYE - Cool update from the champions of moral hazard. Dave Jamieson: "Some of the nation's leading business lobbies are pressuring House lawmakers to spike bipartisan legislation that would take government contracts away from firms that have committed wage theft. In a series of letters passed around Capitol Hill, business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Builders and Contractors urged House members to vote 'no' on the wage theft measure if it is proposed as an amendment to the energy and water appropriations bill. The measure, championed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), would bar taxpayer dollars from going to companies that have recent wage theft convictions or civil penalties reported in the government's contracting database. Although it originally faced heavy GOP opposition, the measure has nonetheless garnered enough Republican support to be successfully attached as an amendment to two appropriations bills. The amendments passed so far only pertain to certain government agencies, and business groups now appear determined to stop any further amendments in their tracks. In a letter dated Wednesday, Chamber lobbyist R. Bruce Josten said the group 'opposes efforts to add any provision similar to and including an amendment by Rep. Ellison that would prevent contractors found to have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) from continuing to receive federal contracts.'" [HuffPost]
GOP TELLS TODD AKIN TO SHUT IT - Todd Akin, an offensive caricature who shows up at the worst possible time to mess things up, is the Jar Jar Binks of Republican politics. Politico: "Todd Akin is back talking about rape in his new book and Republicans have a message for him: Shut up. The Missouri Republican’s memoir offers no apologies for his comments on “legitimate rape,” his bruising loss to Sen. Claire McCaskill or the effect many Republicans say his remarks had on the 2012 field — when the Senate slipped through their fingers. Several operatives, consultants and politicians didn’t waste any time responding to attacks in the book, 'Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom,' set to be released July 15. A copy was provided to POLITICO early. 'Todd Akin is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and the sole reason Claire McCaskill is still part of Harry Reid’s majority,' said Brian Walsh, who served as communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2012 cycle. Akin puts Romney in his cross hairs over the 2012 presidential candidate’s decision to not defend him. He argues that Romney should have pivoted on the issue to attack Democrats and former President Bill Clinton in particular. But former Romney aides say it sounds like a lot of sour grapes from Akin. “Todd Akin has no one to blame for his loss but Todd Akin,” said Kevin Madden, a former senior adviser to Romney." [Politico]
@dansinker: holy crap, @congressedits: tweets anonymous edits to Wikipedia from US Congress IP addresses. (ht @derekwillis)
No justice, no peac-- eh I'm hungry, let's head to We the Pizza: "Federal prosecutors in D.C. announced Thursday that they would not file criminal charges against U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police officers who shot and killed an unarmed woman in 2013 while she was erratically driving a vehicle around the city with her child in the car. In the announcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia made clear that the decision wasn't meant to clear the actions of the officers who killed Miriam Carey on Oct. 3, 2013. Instead, the office concluded there was "insufficient evidence" to pursue either federal criminal civil rights charges or local charges against the officers involved." [HuffPost's Ryan Reilly]
WHO PREDICTED SOCIAL SECURITY CUTS WOULD FLOP? - Back before President Obama endorsed deficit reduction in 2010, Heidi Hartmann of the Institute for Women's Policy Research interviewed members of Congress, staffers, and Social Security Administration officials about whether they thought retirement benefits would get whacked in the next five years. Among the group's of interviewees, lawmakers did the best job correctly predicting nobody would want to get caught pushing granny off a cliff. The IWPR's releasing Hartmann's survey in anticipation of the next Social Security trustee's report this summer. [IWPR.org]
IMPORTANT THING THAT SLIPPED OUR MINDST - We meant to include this in yesterday's newsletter but we forgot…. it happens. Cameron Joseph: "Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is back with his colleagues in Washington, D.C., after winning his hard-fought primary runoff — but he had a bit of trouble finding Senate Republicans' weekly luncheon on Tuesday. Cochran, while talking with The Hill, made a few wrong turns before accidentally ending up at Senate Democrats' luncheon." [The Hill]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Rex Nutting has one of several smart takes on whether the long-term jobless have benefited from not having benefits: "The Republicans are wrong when they say the big drop in the unemployment rate this year confirms that they were right to cancel unemployment checks for the long-term unemployed. There is no evidence that those who had been receiving benefits were suddenly motivated to find jobs once the checks ran out. The improvement in the jobless rate is due to a stronger economy, not the elimination of those benefits, as many conservatives claim." It doesn't matter. [MarketWatch.com]
UPSIDE DOWNER - Fewer and fewer new unemployment claims: "In the week ending July 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 304,000, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 315,000." [DOL.gov]
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GOP SICK OF OBAMA'S BORDER PHOTO OPS, LOVES BORDER PHOTO OPS - Igor Bobic: "Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) tore into 'tone deaf' Obama on Tuesday for not visiting the U.S.-Mexico border to assess the crisis of immigrant children flooding across it, spurred in part by rising violence in Central America...Yet Cornyn's office had very different words for Obama during the the president's trip to El Paso, Texas, in May 2011, when Obama attempted to rally support for legislation that would ultimately create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. A spokesman for Cornyn criticized the trip as nothing more than a staged event that would do little to secure the nation's border. 'What Sen. Cornyn is looking for, President Obama cannot deliver with another speech or photo op, and that's presidential leadership. Words matter little when there is no action,' said Kevin McLaughlin...The president's decision not to visit the border this week also rankled Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who equated it with former President George W. Bush's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina. 'It is a humanitarian crisis, and that I will suggest is the reason the president needs to come to the border, to see it himself,' Perry saidin an interview on Fox News. 'I think about the criticism George W. Bush received when he didn't go to New Orleans in Katrina. This is no different.' But he, too, spoke critically of Obama's first trip to the border, describing it as a 'photo-op' and criticizing him for proclaiming that 'the border was as safe as it’s ever been.'" [HuffPost]
Scott Brown is in trouble, bro: "With four months to go before the 2014 election, Senator Jeanne Shaheen leads her potential Republican challengers by double digits. Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is the strongest challenger, but he is still viewed unfavorably by Granite Staters. These findings are based on the latest WMUR Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Six hundred and sixty-nine (669) randomly selected New Hampshire adults were interviewed by landline and cellular telephone between June 19 and July 1, 2014. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3.8 percent. The sample included 509 likely voters (with a +/- 4.3 percent margin of sampling error). " [UNH]
VA INTERNAL AUDIT FINDS MAJOR FISCAL PROBLEMS - Dave Wood: "The scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs is systematically overpaying clerks, administrators and other support staff, according to internal audits, draining tens of millions of dollars that could be used instead to ease the VA's acute shortage of doctors and nurses. The jobs of some 13,000 VA support staff have been flagged by auditors as potentially misclassified, in many cases resulting in inflated salaries that have gone uncorrected for as long as 14 years. Rather than moving quickly to correct these costly errors, VA officials two years ago halted a broad internal review mandated by federal law. As a result, the overpayments continue. Moreover, in the two years since thousands of misclassified jobs were identified, hundreds of additional positions have been filled at improperly high salaries. Internal VA documents obtained by The Huffington Post show that between September 2013 and May 2014, for instance, overpayments in annual salaries for the latter jobs alone came to $24.4 million, not counting benefits. In May alone, senior VA classification specialists identified 284 probably misclassified positions newly posted on the federal jobs site, USAJobs. Once filled, those jobs would result in estimated overpayments of $3.3 million per year. For that amount of money, the VA could instead hire five neurosurgeons, 10 psychiatrists and five suicide prevention case managers at the average salaries currently offered on USAJobs." [HuffPost]
The Left's mom and dad are fighting, prompting the Left to run up to its room and play its Cure albums extra loud: "One of the largest labor unions in the country is severing its ties with the United Negro College Fund over the storied scholarship group's relationship with the Koch brothers. Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said in a letter to UNCF President Michael Lomax on Thursday that it was 'with the deepest regret' that the union would pull out of a scholarship program run jointly by the two groups. Saunders himself is African-American...Lomax's decision to speak at a 'Koch brothers summit in California,' Saunders said, 'was a betrayal of everything the UNCF stands for.' He explained, 'Your appearance at the summit can only be interpreted as a sign of your personal support and the UNCF's organizational support of the Koch brothers' ideological program.'" [HuffPost]
BIPARTISAN SPORTSMEN BILL KILLED BY BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION - Washington worked for once, just a little too hard this time. Roll Call: "The bipartisan sportsmen’s bill championed by endangered Sen. Kay Hagan became another election year casualty today with a majority of the Senate refusing to end debate. The North Carolina Democrat’s measure, which would expand hunting and fishing access on federal land, was falling well short of the 60 votes to invoke cloture and end debate on the measure, as a number of Democrats joined Republicans to rebuff Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after he moved to block amendments. Just 41 voted in support of cloture and 56 opposed. Despite having broad bipartisan support, Republicans turned their nose up at the package after the Nevada Democrat filled the amendment tree yesterday, blocking the ability to get votes on their amendments. Reid had urged Republicans to give him a reasonable list of amendments to approve that would lead to passage of the bill. He was concerned Republicans were more interested in scoring political points than in legislating. A slew of politically charged gun rights amendments had been filed to the proposal." [Roll Call]
NSA GOING TO FAR: POLL - The agency could apologize by pinging "Sorry" in morse in the middle of Americans' phone calls. Emily Swanson: "Most Americans think government surveillance that gathers up masses of telephone and Internet data goes "too far," a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows. And 2 in 5 think the government has recorded their own phone calls or emails. Fifty-nine percent of the survey's respondents said the programs that collect phone and Internet communications as a way to prevent terrorism collect too much information about Americans, while only 20 percent said the government strikes the right balance in deciding what data to collect. Six percent said the government doesn't go far enough in collecting that information. The "goes too far" view was shared by 66 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and a 48 percent plurality of Democrats. Many Americans aren't even convinced that the surveillance programs do much to fight terrorism. A combined 43 percent said the phone and Internet data collection efforts are very likely (13 percent) or somewhat likely (30 percent) to have prevented a terrorist attack. But 47 percent said they were somewhat unlikely (23 percent) or very unlikely (24 percent) to have done so." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a dog pretending to be an ambulance.
BORN THIS WAY: RICHARD NIXON - Vanity Fair's Douglas Brinkley has been researching the Nixon tapes for a forthcoming book and this excerpt featuring Nixon talking about homosexuality is great bit of jowel-shaking paranoia: "During a discussion with Haldeman and Kissinger about an annual youth conference, the subject turned to homosexuality and society. Nixon: Let me say something before we get off the gay thing. I don’t want my views misunderstood. I am the most tolerant person on that of anybody in this shop. They have a problem. They’re born that way. You know that. That’s all. I think they are. Anyway, my point is, though, when I say they’re born that way, the tendency is there. [But] my point is that Boy Scout leaders, YMCA leaders, and others bring them in that direction, and teachers. And if you look over the history of societies, you will find, of course, that some of the highly intelligent people . . . Oscar Wilde, Aristotle, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, were all homosexuals. Nero, of course, was, in a public way, in with a boy in Rome. Haldeman: There’s a whole bunch of Roman emperors. . . . Nixon: But the point is, look at that, once a society moves in that direction, the vitality goes out of that society. Now, isn’t that right, Henry? Kissinger: Well— Nixon: Do you see any other change, anywhere where it doesn’t fit? Kissinger: That’s certainly been the case in antiquity. The Romans were notorious— Haldeman: The Greeks. Kissinger: —homosexuals. . . . Nixon: The Greeks. And they had plenty of it. . . . By God, I am not going to have a situation where we pass along a law indicating, 'Well, now, kids, just go out and be gay.' They can do it. Just leave them alone. That’s a lifestyle I don't want to touch. . . . Kissinger: It’s one thing for people to, you know, like some people we know, who would do it discreetly, but to make that a national policy . . ." [Vanity Fair]
- The sound of Maxi Rodriguez's goal in Argentina. [http://bit.ly/1qnZWFK]
- If company slogans and advertising were more honest. [http://huff.to/1nbR2aO]
- Short music video explaining the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. [http://bit.ly/1kasH5k]
- What $2000 can get you in Brooklyn these days (spoiler: next to nothing). [http://bit.ly/1lXKSuD]
- Watch Germany's Thomas Muller destroy the dance floor. [https://vine.co/v/MUQjpvDKr9B]
- Dogs going down stairs for the first time. [http://huff.to/TVG8i9]
- Japanese chef is the world master of pancakes. [http://bit.ly/VQ7mIC]
@CarrieNBCNews: Per pool, Obama is exercising his executive power to not have to wait 19 hours in line at Franklin BBQ in Austin like the rest of us would
@elisefoley: So, if Obama went out and was like “yeah, guys, this is my fault,” would Republicans approve funding for the border crisis?
@daveweigel: Needed: A “1776”-style musical version of the decision to sue Obama. The lead character’s named John and everything!
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