POLITICS
01/04/2017 06:34 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Democrats To Save Obamacare With Stirring Orator--pfffHAHAHAHA

Carlos Barria / Reuters

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A GOP congressman used $600 to buy a plane ticket for a rabbit ― when you’re game for that, you might as well spring for a NetJets membership. At this point, we wouldn’t blame Goldman Sachs for renaming itself the Kennedy School of Government. And couriers are excited that President-elect Trump uses their services, probably because they won’t have to make all their money waiting in line for lobbyists now. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, January 4th, 2017:

DEMOCRATS TO PROCLAIM OBAMACARE NOT SO BAD ACTUALLY - You miss things so much more when they’re gone. Jeffrey Young: “Barack Obama paid what’s likely to be his last visit to Capitol Hill as president on Wednesday and beseeched congressional Democrats to fight to protect the Affordable Care Act from Republican efforts to unravel it…. ‘Despite the negativity, you have a big chunk of the country that wants this thing to succeed,’ Obama said, according to a person who attended the meeting with House and Senate Democrats. ‘That the country is clamoring to undo this thing is simply untrue.’ … Democratic leaders emerged from that session proclaiming they’re unified in their opposition to repeal, unified in their zeal to resist and unified in their refusal to help Republicans devise new health care reforms until they see the GOP’s opening bid at an Obamacare ‘replacement’ ― something that Republicans have failed to produce during the eight years since the Affordable Care Act debate began.” [HuffPost]

Mike Pence, meanwhile, suggests you just take some Advil for that: “Vice President-elect Mike Pence renewed the pledge to repeal Obamacare during a visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday. ‘The first order of business is to repeal and replace Obamacare, and that was our message today and it will be our message on Capitol Hill,’ he said. ‘It needs to be done.’’’ [HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney]

TRUMP BREAKS OUT SOME STRATEGERY - Arthur Delaney: “President-elect Donald Trump seems concerned about his party’s strategy for repealing the Affordable Care Act, at least according to a series of tweets he posted on Wednesday. ‘Republicans must be careful in that the Dems own the failed ObamaCare disaster, with its poor coverage and massive premium increases like the 116% hike in Arizona,’ Trump tweeted. ‘Don’t let the Schumer clowns out of this web massive increases of ObamaCare will take place this year and Dems are to blame for the mess,’ he added, referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), leader of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate. ‘It will fall of its own weight - be careful!’ Congressional Republicans have been preparing to pass legislation repealing Obamacare for Trump to sign shortly after he assumes the presidency. The president-elect isn’t saying the GOP shouldn’t proceed ― but it will be difficult for Republicans to continue to blame Democrats for Obamacare’s shortcomings, like Trump suggests, if they pass legislation that disrupts the health care law’s consumer subsidies and rules for health insurance companies.” [HuffPost]

TRUMP MAKES ENEMIES OF SPIES IN WELL-THOUGHT-OUT PLAN - Surely America’s intelligence agencies would never dig for dirt on the Donald in retaliation. Sam Levine and Hayley Miller: “President-elect Donald Trump again cast doubt on U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday, questioning their conclusion that Russia was behind hacks during the presidential election that boosted his candidacy. In a series of tweets, Trump supported WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who denied in a recent interview that Russia was the source of a hack on the Democratic National Committee.” [HuffPost]

GOP LAWMAKER PLANS BIG TEAM-UP WITH RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT - Makes sense, since members of the Duma have a lot to teach him about kowtowing to an autocrat. Robert Costa: “Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican ally of President-elect Donald Trump and a longtime enthusiast of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Wednesday that he is planning to lead a congressional delegation to Russia next month and expects to meet with Russian officials to discuss /how we can work with the Duma.’ ‘We’re going to look at certain goals we can set with our Congress and the Duma,’ the Russian legislature, Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said in an interview. ‘What could we actually set in the legislature of Russia and in Congress?... Rohrabacher, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and emerging threats, was coy when asked whether his group would meet with Putin. ‘I really can’t say that,’ he said after a pause and a half-smile. ‘It’s possible.’” [WaPo]

Keep Amtrak in business: “Vice President Joe Biden plans to partner with the University of Delaware on an economic and domestic policy initiative after leaving the White House. That’s according to an aide to Biden who requested anonymity because the partnership hasn’t yet been publicly announced. Biden also plans an affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania centered on foreign policy issues. Biden appeared to reference that project Tuesday when he was heard on a hot microphone discussing his plans while swearing in new senators at the U.S. Capitol.” [AP]

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OH MAN, WHERE DID THE SWAMP GO - To be fair, a good portion of the president-elect’s team once rode a bus ― the Hampton Jitney ― so they know what working people are going through. Christina Wilkie: “President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton to be chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, his staff announced Wednesday…. Clayton is currently a partner at the white-shoe Manhattan law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, where he has primarily represented major corporations in mergers, initial public offerings and compliance issues. Among his biggest clients are the e-commerce site Alibaba and the investment bank Goldman Sachs…. Taken together, Trump and Clayton’s statements signal what many experts had long anticipated: That the Securities and Exchange Commission will be more friendly to Wall Street under a Trump presidency than it was under President Barack Obama, who was elected at the height of the 2008 financial crisis.” [HuffPost]

PROGRESSIVES NOT ENTIRELY OFFENDED BY TRUMP’S PROPOSED TRADE REP - Daniel Marans: “Robert Lighthizer, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to serve as the next U.S. trade representative, is drawing some positive reviews from progressive critics of current U.S. trade policies. They look at his history and predict he’ll prioritize greater enforcement of existing trade laws ― to the benefit of American workers ― over signing onto new trade agreements. In fact, their biggest concern about Lighthizer’s nomination is that he will likely not be the main decision-maker on trade policy in the Trump administration. Lighthizer served as a deputy U.S. trade representative in the Reagan administration, during which time he helped broker a 1985 deal with Japan, Germany and other countries that is widely credited with creating more favorable conditions for American manufacturing. Today he’s a Washington-based partner with powerhouse law firm Skadden whose clients include American manufacturers accusing other nations of unfair trade practices. He has also been a vocal critic of China’s trading relationship with the U.S.” [HuffPost]

RABBIT, FLY - The next few years are going to be great for people who appear on cable news, shake their heads solemnly and say the optics are bad. Eric Garcia: “Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., used $600 in campaign money to fly a family rabbit, an ongoing review of his expenses revealed. The news comes as Hunter faces a larger review by the Office of Congressional Ethics for campaign expenses Hunter has since reimbursed his campaign $62,000 for expenses that were either personal or lacked proper documentation such as video games, oral surgery, a resort stay and a jewelry purchase in Italy, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Hunter spokesperson Joe Kasper said many of the expenses have been misrepresented and used the rabbit as an example. ‘Since travel is often done on (airline) miles — which is entirely permissible — the credit card connected to the account was charged several times even when his children were flying,’ he said.” [Roll Call]

ELLISON SEEKING TO DRAIN SWAMP, TOO - Zach Carter and Daniel Marans: “Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) pledged to ban contributions from lobbyists to the Democratic Party if he’s elected as its next chairman. ‘Yeah, I would,’ Ellison told HuffPost when asked about banning lobbyist donations. ‘I think it’s important that people feel that the party is their party….  There is a pragmatic, perhaps too pragmatic step that you can say, ‘We’ll just take whatever money from whatever source in whatever amount.’ But once you do that, I think you cross a line where people do not feel that the party is really theirs.’ President Barack Obama banned lobbyist contributions to the Democratic National Committee after winning the 2008 election, but the then DNC Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) quietly lifted the ban during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. In a December interview with HuffPost, Ellison’s chief rival for Wasserman Schultz’s successor, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, refused to rule out lobbyist donations. ‘I think we have to have everything on the table,’ Perez said. ‘We have to have a conversation where we bring in all the stakeholders and say, “What is the vision of the Democratic Party?”’” [HuffPost]

DAVID CLARKE NOT THE SAME, BATSHIT CRAZY SHERIFF MILWAUKEE CONSERVATIVES USED TO LOVE - You used to be about the hippie punching, man. Allan Smith: “Charlie Sykes, a recently retired conservative Wisconsin radio host who had been friends with Clarke for the better part of 20 years, couldn’t stay silent ...  Sykes believed that while Clarke was off becoming a media personality, he was neglecting the job the local community elected him to do — be sheriff…. Over the course of the 2016 campaign, Clarke was elevated to the mantel of the nation’s most divisive law-enforcement figure. He emerged as one of President-elect Donald Trump’s most visible supporters on cable news, propping him up as he attempted to run a campaign heavy on law and order. He now looks set to earn an influential spot in Trump’s administration…. Lt. Chris Moews of the Milwaukee Police Department, who ran against Clarke in the last two primaries, put it this way: ‘David Clarke, really in the last six months, has come unhinged.’” [Business Insider]

ERIC HOLDER GOES HOLLYWOOD - Well, Sacramento, but still. Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Levine: “Democratic lawmakers in the California legislature have retained former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help in any legal battles with President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. The move is an indication that lawmakers in the nation’s most populous state, where Democrats hold two-thirds majorities in both houses of the legislature, are girding for possible court battles after Trump takes office on Jan. 20.” [Reuters]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a puppy eating a banana.

COURIERS PLEASED WITH TRUMP - And here we thought Trump was the biggest financial beneficiary of the Trump presidency. Jennifer Bendery: “President-elect Donald Trump said Saturday that ‘no computer is safe’ from cyberattacks, and that there’s a much better way to send urgent messages: couriers. ‘If you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way,’ Trump told reporters on New Year’s Eve in Florida…. But those in the courier industry, which has struggled to stay relevant as the internet makes communication easier and cheaper for everyone, will happily take the plug from Trump. ‘I did hear about this, by the way, and I loved it personally,’ said a woman who answered the phone at Washington Express, a D.C.-based courier company. She directed HuffPost to the company’s president, who didn’t call back. ‘What can I say? It’s a great idea! Anything that improves the courier business is good,’ said Sam of All State Courier Inc. in Washington. He only agreed to give his first name. ‘We do a good job and we keep all of your information confidential.’” [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- People ranging from ages 5 to 75 answer what their life goals are.

- What exactly is “The Heartland?”

- Person really hates snowman.

TWITTERAMA

@emmaroller: I’m a Transformer that can turn into a Tonka truck, please give me a job in journalism

@dceiver: you know Joey No Socks has mafia connects because if he didn’t motherfuckers would just call him Joey Feet Smell Like A Yard Of Butthole

@SimonMaloy: I still miss Jeb

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