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Dems get second helping of carbon pain

smokestacks_AP_660.jpg

July 1, 2013 file photo shows smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in Colstrip, Mont. (AP)

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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.

[McCain joins call for Justice Department investigation of VA – “We have an obligation to the vets who are living. And that obligation is not being fulfilled today by our veteran's administration. I think we not only need investigations by the inspector general but I think it's time we examine the Justice Department investigating these allegations because they are the utmost seriousness.” – Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., from Memorial Day remarks.]

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
What did Frank Lloyd Wright envision for the American cities of today? How about skyscrapers that housed 100,000 people, leaving space in city centers for parklands and natural proportions? Americans love Wright not just because he made the most perfect example of a home in harmony with its surroundings in Western Pennsylvania’s Fallingwater, but also because he sought to preserve and reflect the vastness and scale of America in its urban architecture. In The New Yorker, author Morgan Meis looks at the new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art on Wright’s turn as an urban planner and what Wright, who yeaned for the Wisconsin prairie of his youth, may not have understood. “Perhaps the space and the freedom to be found within cities is within the tangle, in the nooks and crannies, within the density of the hive,” wrote Meis. “Inside the cramped space of the city, one is forced to confront oneself, to figure out who to be and how to be it, from the inside out.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.9 percent/Disapprove – 52.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.8 percent/Wrong Track – 62.8 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 43 percent/Republicans 42.3 percent

HILLARY: NO AUTOGRAPHS PLEASE
Marching in the Memorial Day parade of her adopted hometown of Chappaqua, N.Y., 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton had a rare moment of interaction with the public, albeit with fellow residents of the tony Westchester County suburb. But even among her fellow 1 percenters, Clinton kept her rules of engagement intact. Via BuzzFeed: “Even in the sea of people, without press aides by her side, Clinton maintained the discipline for which she is known. She refused several requests for autographs, no matter how many times a person pleaded, pen and pad outstretched. ‘No, I can’t do autographs,’ she said to one woman. ‘Send it to me. I’ll sign it and send it back,’ she said to another holding a photo. She answered one question from a local TV news crew, before moving away from the cameras and back into the crowd, where more residents waited for pictures and handshakes. And, approached by this reporter mid-march, Clinton said she wouldn’t answer questions ‘in the middle of the parade.’”

[Politico is touting release of a four page author’s note from Hillary Clinton’s upcoming book “Hard Choices” which will be released next month. “I wrote it for anyone anywhere who wonders whether the United States still has what it takes to lead.” Clinton says. “Everything that I have done and seen,” she adds, “has convinced me that America remains the ‘indispensable nation.’”]

CHRISTIE AND MARTINEZ, TOGETHER AGAIN
In a preview of a potential 2016 campaign pairing, Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., will head to New Mexico later this week to stump for Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M. Martinez, who seems to be cruising to re-election in her blue state, has oft been discussed as a possible vice-presidential candidate for 2016. She also came to Christie’s aid in his re-election bid in 2013. Christie will take part in two campaign stops Thursday, including a meet-and-greet with the winner of an online drawing. Democrats will choose Martinez’s opponent in a June 3 primary.

CRUZ TAKES HAWKISH STANCE IN ISRAEL
Dallas Morning News:  “[Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas,] criticized the U.S. administration for pressuring Israel on the issue of settlements in the Palestinian territory. Those, Cruz said, are ‘a question for the government of Israel,’ adding that it’s not America’s role ‘to try to impose a policy about where Israeli settlements are located and where they’re not.’ Cruz arrived in Israel Monday for a two-day visit. He’ll travel later this week to Poland, Ukraine and Estonia. So far, he reportedly has met with Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and the opposition Labor Party’s Knesset leaderIsaac Herzog. He also reiterated a recent call for the resignation of Secretary of State John Kerry over [his suggestion]… that Israel was at risk of becoming an ‘apartheid’ state for its treatment of Palestinians. On Tuesday Cruz plans to tour a medical center in the city of Tzfat. In Ukraine later this week, Cruz intends to visit Maidan Square, and meet with leaders of the country’s protest movement and Jewish and Catholic communities.”

POWER PLAY: CENTURY CLUB
In the latest installment of “Power Play with Chris Stirewalt” Chris goes off to the races with Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., who is looking to unseat Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont. Walsh was appointed to fill the seat of departing Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., now the U.S. ambassador to China. Click here to watch as Daines explains his plan to win over “prairie populists” and claim a seat that has not been held by a Republican for nearly 100 years.

AYOTTE AND GRANITE STATE GOVS GET BEHIND BROWN
New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown is getting a boost from key Granite State Republicans today. Joining Brown at an event this afternoon in Nashua, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and former Govs. Craig Benson and Steve Merrill will tout their support of the former Massachusetts senator. In an e-mail to supporters Monday, Ayotte wrote, “The residents of New Hampshire are proud to be independent thinkers with strong commonsense values…Those are the principles I’ve been fighting for in the Senate, but I can’t do it alone. That’s why I am pleased to announce on Tuesday, May 27th I will be endorsing my friend and former colleague Scott Brown. Scott Brown has what it takes to win this election and represent New Hampshire values in Washington.”

“As I’ve said at times, [Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.] is a very nice person, but she’s wrong on the issues – especially this issue. She and the president have been going around saying you could keep your doctor, but it’s all been a lie. The people of New Hampshire deserve better. My priority is to repeal ObamaCare. She's all in and the people of New Hampshire are very upset.” – New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown, in an interview today on “Fox & Friends.”

SCANDAL VOTE SURGE MAY SINK MCDANIEL
The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger: “The scandal involving a conservative blogger who allegedly photographed Sen. Thad Cochran’s ailing, bed-ridden wife could boost turnout at Mississippi’s June 3 primary, political experts say.…Cochran’s main primary challenger is state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a tea party favorite. John Bruce, chairman of the political science department at Ole Miss, said… typical voter turnout may not hold true this time ‘because we have this stuff that could be happening up until the day before the election. Clayton Kelly, a McDaniel supporter, blogger and tea party activist, has been charged with conspiracy, photo voyeurism and exploitation of a vulnerable adult for allegedly photographing Cochran’s wife, Rose, in her nursing home. Rose Cochran suffers from dementia. Police say Kelly used the photographs in a political video against Cochran. Three other people, including the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, also have been arrested.”

AWAAK! ‘YOU CAN KEEP IT’
Conservative group Club for Growth is out today with a feathery foray in the Alaska and Arkansas Senate races. The $300,000 statewide ad buys swat Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Mark Pryor, D-Ark. for parroting President Obama’s “if you like it” ObamaCare selling pitch. Watch the psittacine pitch in Alaska here, and Arkansas here.

PICK SIX: NO HELP FOR HAGAN?
Republicans are hoping to pick up an additional six seats to gain control of the Senate this November. Which Democrat-held seats will prove to be the most likely flips for the red team? The current consensus among Fox News First readers:  Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Reader William Collins of North Carolina is wondering if Democrats in his state may divert funds to other races asking, “Are they giving up on [Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.]?”

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

LOW-STAKES TEXAS RUNOFF STILL PLENTY UGLY
The Houston Chronicle offers five things to watch from today’s Texas primary runoff election. It’s a good, quick primer for anyone just tuning in. The first item on the watch list: “Ever since grass-roots firebrand Ted Cruz upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in their 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary, most top Texas conservatives have scrambled hard to the right. Even though insurgent candidates have struggled this year elsewhere around the country, the Texas GOP’s enthusiastic embrace of tea party ideals will continue if two runoff races go as expected. Houston state Sen. Dan Patrick, who founded the tea party caucus in the Texas Legislature, is poised to knock Dewhurst from a post he has held since 2003. And state Sen. Ken Paxton, after billing himself as the second-coming of Cruz, is favored in the GOP attorney general runoff against veteran state Rep. Dan Branch.”

DUDE, YOUR GOATS ARE FREAKING ME OUT
AP: “Pismo Beach [Calif.] is on board with surfing goats. But grazing goats can be a bummer. Three goats — Grover, Pismo and Goatee — have become celebrities in the city on California’s Central Coast and on YouTube after owner Dana McGregor taught them to surf. But McGregor has gotten pricey tickets recently for letting them graze within city limits, and he is violating codes by keeping them at all. Goats are allowed on larger lots and for temporary clearing of plants, which is why McGregor got a goat in the first place…The city is considering allowing up to three goats on smaller lots and allowing them in parks on leashes. They remain legal and welcome at the beach.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“If there’s ever been evidence that a government-run system of health care is a disaster, it’s here. It’s rationing. It’s waitlists and corruption and laziness, as you get when people are salaried rather than working in the free market.” –Charles Krauthammer, discussing ongoing reporting failures at the nation’s VA hospitals on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”   Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.