POLITICS
01/22/2015 05:59 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Tom Brady Handsome

The Tom Brady deflation scandal roiled Washington, a town with little patience for rich white men giving themselves unfair advantages. Mitt Romney says he’s “the kind of Republican who believes in climate change,” prompting a swift condemnation from Mitt Romney in 18 months. And Harry Reid might pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the exercise equipment on which he injured himself. So much for him being a street justice kind of guy. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 22nd, 2015:

SOCIAL SECURITY FIGHT!!! Lanhee Chen, one of seven members of the independent Social Security Advisory Board, had a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week calling for reforms to the embattled Social Security Disability Insurance program. House Republicans have already set the stage for this debate, passing a rule that prevents the House from using Social Security retirement funds to prevent an automatic 19 percent cut to disability benefits next year. In light of the op-ed, staffers for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a harsh critic of the House GOP's move, noted that at Chen's confirmation hearing last year Brown had asked Chen, a fellow at the conservative Hoover institution, about writing things that wouldn't help the board reach consensus on social insurance policy. "I think it’s crucially important that members of the board not engage in writings that would prejudice discussions or deliberations with respect to issues pending before the board," Chen said. Hmmm….

Here is a supercut of Tom Brady saying the word "balls." If you think we're being immature just know that this was the only topic discussed in Washington today.

GOP IN DAMAGE CONTROL MODE - Laura Bassett: “House Republicans scrambled on Thursday to appease social conservatives after unexpectedly canceling a vote on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed the House easily just two years ago. The bill was expected to sail through the GOP-controlled House on Thursday, the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark abortion-rights decision. But Republican leaders pulled the bill on the eve of the vote after some members of their caucus withdrew support because the rape exception in the bill is too narrow. The legislation requires women to have reported the rape to police in order to invoke the rape exception to the abortion restrictions. An identical bill in the Senate has not yet received a vote...Republicans assured anti-abortion activists that there would still be a vote on the 20-week ban after the legislation is altered to ensure the maximum number of votes. ‘That bill, I promise you, will be back on the floor very, very shortly,’ said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a strong anti-abortion voice in the House, told reporters Wednesday night.” [HuffPost]

REPUBLICANS ATTACH TAX HIKE TO ABORTION BILL - Hell, why not go all the way and make it the The Protection of Life, Fiscal Responsibility and Recognizing the Accomplishments of the 2015 NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks Act? Jen Bendery: “After a botched effort to pass legislation imposing a 20-week ban on abortions, House Republicans are moving forward Thursday with what's being dubbed a less controversial bill that codifies a ban on federal funding for abortions. The bill would do a number of things -- including block federal funds for abortion for women who are in the military, who live in Washington, D.C., and who are poor -- but one aspect of the legislation that hasn't received much attention is the fact that it would raise taxes on the vast majority of small businesses. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would deny small businesses a tax credit they currently receive through what's known as the SHOP exchange, a part of the Affordable Care Act, if they include abortion care in their health plans. Roughly 87 percent of private plans include abortion services as part of comprehensive coverage, meaning the bulk of small businesses would be hit with a tax hike if the bill were to become law.” [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is pushing forward with a plan to make food stamp recipients pass drug tests -- a requirement that the Obama administration says violates federal law. The drug testing, which Walker first announced he'd pursue last year, is part of an overall budget proposal Walker's pitching as a workforce readiness plan. “We know employers in Wisconsin have jobs available, but they don’t have enough qualified employees to fill those positions,” Walker said in a press release.
[HuffPost]

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DEMS HOPING GOP AGENDA WILL WIN THEM MILLENNIALS - That or Jim Clyburn will start wearing purple cords and hair product. The Hill: “House Democrats think the GOP’s agenda, including a hard-line bill banning abortions that GOP leaders pulled late Wednesday from floor consideration, is giving them a new opportunity to win over millennials ahead of 2016. ‘It’s almost as though they’re creating the strategy for us, bringing up these bills,’ Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday. Younger voters tend to vote Democratic, but the age group turned out in low numbers amid the party’s midterm drubbing last November. In 2014, there were some signs that younger people turned off by a tough job market were souring on President Obama and his party. Now things are starting to look different. New Republican proposals taking a hard conservative line on the issues of immigration and abortion have given what Democrats see as an opening to motivate younger voters and steer them into their tent. A recent poll by The Washington Post and ABC News has fueled the Democrats’ optimism, finding that President Obama’s approval rating among millennials has jumped 19 percentage points since December.” [The Hill]

MITT ROMNEY: ‘I’M ONE OF THOSE REPUBLICANS WHO BELIEVES IN CLIMATE CHANGE’ - “I’m also one of those Republicans with a keypad implanted in his wrist!” ::hits buttons on wrist, chest opens up to reveal jungle of wires and processing chips:: AP: “Outlining his possible rationale for a third presidential bid, Mitt Romney said Wednesday night that political leaders in both parties are failing to address the nation's most pressing problems — climate change, poverty and education reform, among them — as he acknowledged lessons learned from his failed 2012 presidential campaign...While hitting familiar Republican points criticizing the size of the federal debt, Romney at times sounded like a Democrat, calling for President Barack Obama and other leaders in Washington to act on common liberal priorities such as climate change, poverty and education. ‘I'm one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that’" he said of climate change, charging that federal leaders have failed to enact global agreements needed to tackle the problem.” [AP]

TECH GIANTS RAMP UP LOBBYING - So does Snapchat simply send members and staffers five-second images of bags with dollar signs on them beside a bill? Politico: “Apple, Amazon and Facebook shelled out record amounts to influence Washington; Google posted one of its biggest lobbying years ever; and a slew of new tech companies dipped their toes into politics for the first time in 2014 — a sign of the industry’s deepening effort to shape policymaking in D.C. The sharp uptick in spending reflects the tech sector’s evolution from an industry that once shunned Washington into a powerful interest that’s willing to lobby extensively to advance the debates that matter most to companies’ bottom lines — from clamping down on patent lawsuits to restricting NSA surveillance to obtaining more high-skilled immigration visas and green cards....Companies like Belkin, a major player in the emerging sector of connected home devices, and Snapchat, an app for disappearing photo messages, each registered their first-ever lobbyists last year. Snapchat hired its new consultants from the firm Heather Podesta + Partners after a major data breach registered on Washington’s radar. Other prominent tech companies retained new help, as well. Netflix grew its lobbying roster amid the fight at the FCC over net neutrality. And Uber added D.C. lobbyists to win new allies for its ride-hailing app, which has triggered fights with state and local regulators and cab operators nationwide.” [Politico]

HARRY REID DOESN’T RULE OUT LAWSUIT FOR EXERCISE INJURY -Mike McAuliff: “ Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday made his first public media appearance since an exercise mishap left him with a severely injured eye and four broken ribs. Reid had been working out with resistance bands in his new home earlier this month when one snapped, injuring his right eye and flinging him into a file cabinet, he said. The Nevada Democrat said he expected to be back to full speed soon, and that he planned to run for re-election. But while he was certain about his electoral plans, he hedged on a question about whether he'd take the manufacturer of the exercise gear to court. ‘Let's say if I were, I wouldn't be broadcasting that here,’ Reid said. Asked later if he knew the maker of the product and whether he thought it was defective, Reid answered: ‘Well, we have it, and we'll find out.’” [HuffPost]

CONGRESS NOT THE BEST PLACE FOR MOMS - Also women in general, but especially moms. Roll Call: “Paid maternity and paternity leave could be coming soon for most federal employees. In a recent statement posted on LinkedIn, Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett outlined President Barack Obama’s call for more paid family leave and sick days for workers, writing, ‘The President will sign a Presidential Memorandum that will ensure federal employees have access to at least 6 weeks of paid sick leave when a new child arrives and propose that Congress offer 6 weeks of paid administrative leave as well.’ So what does this mean for congressional staff? Unfortunately, not much. At least not yet. A presidential memorandum alone is not sufficient to create workplace changes for congressional staff. Here’s why: The Constitution prevents the executive branch from governing congressional workers...Approximately 9 of every 10 House offices already offer some type of paid maternity or paternity leave under the FMLA, according to the 2010 House Compensation Study commissioned by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.” [Roll Call]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a seal meeting a dog.

COMFORT FOOD

- Funny or Die now has a weather app.

- An interview with the fake baby from “American Sniper.”

- Renderings of what our planet would look like with other stars as our sun.

TWITTERAMA

@LEBassett: Stop trying to distract us from Tom Brady's deflated balls RT @jesseberney {guys the president of yemen resigned today just fyi}

@pourmecoffee: "Grandpa, what did you use the greatest communication tool in the history of mankind for?"

"Ball jokes, Billy. Ball jokes."

@KagroX: An armed league is a polite league. Nobody would deflate balls in an armed NFL.

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