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Dems get second helping of carbon pain

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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Buzz Cut:
• Dems get second helping of carbon pain
• VA scandal stifles Obama shift to foreign policy
• Hillary: No autographs please
• Power Play: Century club
• Dude, your goats are freaking me out

DEMS GET SECOND HELPING OF CARBON PAIN
Ahead of the 2010 elections, Team Obama warned that if Congress failed to impose new global-warming fees on businesses, the Environmental Protection Agency would conduct its own harsher carbon crackdown. Even with Democrats wholly in control of the legislative branch, the plan fizzled – but not before then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed several of her vulnerable members to vote for the unpopular measure. Twinned with ObamaCare, “cap and trade” was hugely damaging to Democrats from swing districts and no-doubt increased the size of the GOP wave in 2010. But the cap and trade gambit may yet claim more Democratic seats as the EPA, moving at the glacial pace of the federal bureaucracy, prepares to deliver the stick to the energy sector that President Obama warned of five years ago. And as part of his bid to secure a legacy on the issue deemed most important by many on the left, Obama plans to announce the crackdown himself at the start of next week.

Think globally, lose locally - The focus seems to be on showing other nations that the United States is prepared to suffer for the sake of curbing global warming, a move aimed at building consensus for a United Nations carbon control treaty. While Team Obama is arguing that targeting America’s coal plants will help fire up a dispirited Democratic base in time for midterms, the political downside looks far larger. As the WSJ points out, “The proposed rule would affect hundreds of power plants nationwide and is expected to be challenging for utilities with a large number of coal-fired generators, which the EPA says account for about one-third of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions. Burning coal produces more carbon dioxide than oil and natural gas, but it is also the cheapest and most plentiful source for power, providing 40% of the nation's electricity.” That means big trouble for Democrats from red states and swing states where the original cap and trade proposal was unpopular and its regulatory offspring looks to be even less welcome.

Regs may rattle Landrieu -  The new regulations could call into question the clout Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has been so fiercely touting in her campaign ads. The Senate Energy Committee head will be boasting of her power again today when she tours the state with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. In an interview with WaPo Landrieu said: “I think people see in me a fighter that never quits, never gives up, always puts the state first. May not agree with me on every one of my positions, but I think they think, ‘Gee, Louisiana does have this clout now. . . . Why would we walk away from that?’”

UNIONS, EMPLOYERS SKIRMISH OVER OBAMACARE COSTS

WSJ: “Unions and employers are tussling over who will pick up the tab for new mandates, such as coverage for dependent children to age 26, as well as future costs, such as a tax on premium health plans starting in 2018. The question is poised to become a significant point of tension as tens of thousands of labor contracts covering millions of workers expire in the next several years, with ACA-related cost increases ranging from 5% to 12.5% in current talks…One pressure point is the higher costs of new mandates, especially the requirement that health plans expand coverage for dependents. For Unite Here, adding that coverage for 14,000 dependents raised costs in the health-care fund run by the union’s Las Vegas local by $26 million since 2011, said union spokeswoman Bethany KhanJim Ray, a lawyer who represents the Laborers International Union of North America in benefits negotiations, said these provisions have increased construction-industry health plans’ costs by 5% to 10%, and already resulted in lower wages for some laborers.”

States face higher Welfare costs because of ObamaCare - AP: “Before President Obama’s law expanded Medicaid eligibility, millions of people who were already entitled to its safety-net coverage were not enrolled. Those same people are now signing up in unexpectedly high numbers, partly because of publicity about getting insured under the law. For states red or blue, the catch is that they must use more of their own money to cover this particular group… whether or not a state expands Medicaid, all states are on the hook for a significantly bigger share of costs when it comes to people who were Medicaid-eligible under previous law.”

ObamaCare small-business benefit delayed again - WaPo: “Six months have passed since the Obama administration announced that the launch of the health care law’s online insurance marketplace for small businesses would be delayed until November, more than a year after its originally scheduled start…In an extension of an earlier delay, Department of Health and Human Services officials have finalized rules giving states another year before they have to implement a key feature of the exchanges meant to help small businesses rein in their health costs.”

FIRST LADY GETS FIRED UP ABOUT SCHOOL LUNCH RULES
First lady Michelle Obama is set to deliver remarks from the White House today decrying a measure backed by House Republicans that would allow school districts to opt out of the 2010 school lunch regulations she pushed to pass. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to approve a proposal later this week that would grant waivers to school districts that say they are finding difficulties in complying with the regulations. White House aides say the first lady will announce a campaign-style initiative to push back against the legislation and defend the regulations.

VA SCANDAL STIFLES OBAMA SHIFT TO FOREIGN POLICY
Growing pressure to fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki over alleged cover-ups of the shoddy treatment of veterans at VA hospitals are weighing down a White House push on foreign policy. President Obama, back in Washington Monday following a surprise trip to Afghanistan, remarked briefly on the scandal during a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, notably failing to mention Shinseki by name as he did in the same speech last year. On Wednesday, Obama is heading to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. to deliver a commencement address that his aides are touting as a defense of Obama’s struggling foreign policy. But for Obama, shoring up domestic support for his foreign initiatives remains freighted by concerns over the treatment of the veterans whom he campaigned for office as a protector.

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Chris Stirewalt

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