Fox News First

Keystone shows Steyer & Co. still drive Dems despite losses

In this Feb. 1, 2012 file photo, miles of pipe ready to become part of the Keystone Pipeline are stacked in a field near Cushing, Okla.

In this Feb. 1, 2012 file photo, miles of pipe ready to become part of the Keystone Pipeline are stacked in a field near Cushing, Okla.  (AP)

**Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

Buzz Cut:
• Keystone shows Steyer & Co. still drive Dems despite losses
• Insurers, Wall Street still love ObamaCare
• Poll shows serious resistance to executive amnesty
• Kingmaker sets date for Iowa cattle call
• Hey, buddy, this isn’t Mingo County!

It’s not clear what Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., can get out today’s scheduled vote on a bill to force President Obama to approve a pipeline from Canadian oil fields to the Gulf Coast. Even if she can find a 60th vote to advance the House-passed legislation, the president has indicated he will probably veto the measure. If it took Landrieu two years and being on the brink of defeat in a Dec. 6 runoff election to find 60 votes, she sure isn’t going to be able to get 67 to override a veto. Landrieu, who lost control of the Energy Committee with her party’s defeat two weeks ago, wants to prove that she still has clout. But incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would have welcomed this vote immediately. Moving up the timing of a symbolic act by six weeks is pretty watery fuel for a long-shot re-election bid. But as a test vote for the post-election state of the Democratic Party, it is high-octane stuff.

[Some choices are harder than others - “I can’t respond.” – 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in a June interview with Toronto’s Globe and Mail when asked about her view on the pipeline project.]

No compromise - While American voters may express sympathy for the president’s crusade against what he believes is a climate crisis caused by carbon emissions, the pipeline remains quite popular. A recent Pew poll on the project showed support leading opposition nearly two-to-one, and the pipeline is also supported by labor unions and a broad array of centrist groups. It’s not exactly the top issue for the nation, but it stands out as a rare point of bipartisan appeal. On the left, however, the issue has become a litmus test of climatological purity. Even though Canada promises that the oil will get sold and burned (less efficiently) in China and elsewhere in Asia if the U.S. balks, complicity in easing access to killer carbon molecules for Americans has been deemed a crime against the movement. When Dana Milbank calls anti-Keystone activists “the tea party of the left” he is not being complimentary.

[How opposed are environmentalists to the pipeline? Ask the two dozen of them who brought a 50-foot replica of the pipeline to the front yard of Landrieu’s now-infamous Capitol Hill home.]

Freeze warning - As 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s crawfish-like maneuvers on the subject have shown, the Democratic Party’s obedience to climate activists, including mega donors like Tom Steyer, is growing. Today’s vote will provide clear insight as to which Democrats will do the bidding of the party’s green core even when it is politically punishing to do so. Attack ad makers, set your DVRs. The issue of global warming was an expensive loser for Democrats in this year’s elections. Republican victories in Colorado, Iowa and Florida came despite enormous spending by Steyer and other Democratic donor whales. But even with the losses for the party, the combination of money and activist fervor means Democrats will be beholden to greens for the foreseeable future.

Obama, Hillary adviser on global warming crackdown: ‘I don’t believe they can stop us’ - Roll Call: “President Barack Obama’s administration is dismissing incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vow to target the EPA’s efforts to cap carbon emissions and what he calls the “War on Coal.” “I don’t believe they can stop us,” White House counselor John Podesta said when asked about the Kentucky Republican’s plans on a conference call announcing another climate report Monday.”

Cassidy stays on offense - In an ad released Monday night, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) declares he will fight any executive action by President Obama on immigration, saying in part, “We must stop Obama. As your senator, I will fight his amnesty plan. Your tax dollars should benefit you, not those here illegally.” Cassidy and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) are locked in a tight race set to be decided in a December 6 runoff election.

Jeb chips in on Landrieu ouster effort - WashEx: “[Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will appear at] a fundraising luncheon Dec. 1 at the headquarters of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington, D.C. The money raised will go to a joint fundraising committee benefiting the NRSC, the Republican National Committee, an assortment of state GOP committees, and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy’s Senate campaign.”

Daily Caller: “President Barack Obama and a long list of Democrats are now arguing that MIT economist Jonathan Gruber wasn’t intimately involved in writing Obamacare, but yet another video shows Obama admitting that he’s “stolen ideas” from Jon Gruber himself — “liberally.” Obama spoke at the Brookings Institution in a video posted by the conservative group American Commitment on Monday. The president was touting his policy ideas, which stemmed from what he called some of the “brightest minds from academia and policy circles.”… Gruber advised Obama’s first campaign in 2006 and went to the White House at least a dozen times while Obama’s been in office, in addition to receiving an almost $400,000 contract to advise on the health-care law.” Watch the American Commitment video clip here.

[WSJ details Gruber’s multiple White House visits since 2009 as ObamaCare legislation was being drafted.]

The Kelly File: Obama’s credibility remains at issue - President Obama’s feigned ignorance of Johnathan Gruber as “some adviser” is “not going to wash,” Chris Stirewalt told Megyn Kelly. Citing the president’s own breach of confidence in selling ObamaCare with “if you like it you can keep it,” Obama’s downgrading of Gruber’s role stretches believability and is particularly ill-timed. “For a president who’s getting ready to take a bunch of executive action and do a bunch of things that will further strain his relationship with the electorate, now doesn’t seem like a good time to be straining credulity.”

[The viral video of Jonathan Gruber from an October 2012 speech at University of Rhode Island has since been removed from the university’s website.]

Close ties between the White House and insurers developed in drafting, selling ObamaCare are getting cozier. And why not? Aside from providing guaranteed customers, President Obama’s signature health law has some lucrative built-in bailouts for insurers at the public’s expense: “risk corridor” provisions that Republicans have battled to upend. Meantime, the bottom line is getting rosier for insurance giants. NYT: “[S]ince the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment. The insurers in turn have provided crucial support to Mr. Obama in court battles over the health care law… Since Mr. Obama signed the law, share prices for four of the major insurance companies — Aetna, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth — have more than doubled, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has increased about 70 percent.”

USA Today: President Obama’s plan to sign an executive order on immigration, expected as early as this week, will meet more resistance than support, a new USA TODAY Poll finds. Close to half of those surveyed, 46%, say he should wait for the new Republican-controlled Congress to act, and another one in 10 are unconvinced either way. Just 42% of Americans say he should take action now, findings that reflect a familiar partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans. The president is considering an order that would prevent as many as 5 million people from being deported. But on an interesting combination of other issues, the poll finds sweeping consensus in an electorate that isn't firmly tied to the views of either party. Those surveyed side by more than 2-1 with Obama on a just-announced climate agreement with China, for instance, and with Republicans on approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Reid & Co. ready for action on amnesty - The Hill: “Senate Democratic leaders on Monday urged President Obama to take executive action to ease deportations but avoided the question of timing, which could impact whether anything gets done in the lame-duck session. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the rest of his leadership team argued that Obama would be well within his authority to stop deportations of illegal immigrants who have strong family ties to the country…

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL.), Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY), Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and outgoing Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet (D-CO) signed the letter. Read the full text of the letter here.

Can GOP block amnesty plan without a shutdown? - Byron York outlines the GOP plan for tackling Obama’s expected declaration of temporary amnesty for certain illegal immigrants: “The only thing Republicans will do in the lame duck session…is to make sure a short-term government funding bill is passed by the time the current one expires on Dec. 11. Then in January, with the GOP in control…Republicans will work on crafting a new spending measure that funds the entire government, with the exception of the particular federal offices that will do the specific work of enforcing Obama’s order… At that point, a shutdown battle could occur — but it would be a battle over shutting down the small part of the federal government tasked with enforcing the immigration order.”

[Ed note: Yes, but what if the president chooses to veto the first spending bill on the grounds that it doesn’t fund border security? That would increase the pain and the risk for Republicans, so why wouldn’t he go that route instead of allowing the field of battle to be narrowed?]

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “National Guard troops will be stationed throughout the city of St. Louis in a secondary role to civilian police, Mayor Francis Slay said on Monday. Slay held a press conference minutes after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard in anticipation of a grand jury decision in the Darren Wilson case…. As of Monday afternoon, Slay said he didn't know how many troops would be in the city. He did say that they will be stationed throughout the city at shopping centers and business districts.”

According to the publishers of the Oxford Dictionaries, the 2014 word of the year is “vape.” It came into lexicon in the 1980s with the introduction of smokeless cigarettes but its usage has doubled in the last year thanks to legalized marijuana and dramatic growth of the e-cigarette market. Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford’s dictionaries division, said this year’s selection needed to be a bit more serious following 2013’s word, “selfie.” Runners up included “bae,” a term of endearment, “budtender,” an employee at a marijuana shop, “contactless,” technology that allows wireless connection to make payment, and “slacktivist”, an individual engaging in digital activism which requires little time or involvement.

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

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 42 percent//Disapprove – 53.4 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 27 percent//Wrong Track – 65.8 percent

Alaska Dispatch News: “After holding on to dwindling hope for days, Sen. Mark Begich [D-Alaska,] on Monday conceded he had lost his U.S. Senate race to Republican Dan Sullivan. With the concession coming nearly two weeks after the Nov. 4 general election and with few votes left to count, the statement was largely a formality. The Associated Press called the race nearly a week ago. Soon after, Sullivan attended orientation meetings in D.C. to prepare to take office and voted for Republican leaders in the new Senate majority that takes power in January…On Monday afternoon, the Division of Elections issued new numbers, showing Begich had trimmed what last week had been a roughly 8,000 vote lead to 6,211 votes or to 2.25 percent. But with more than 279,000 votes counted in the race, few outstanding ballots are expected to arrive. Begich said he called Sullivan on Monday and urged him to work in a bipartisan manner in the Senate. Sullivan issued his own statement about the congratulatory phone call. Sullivan said he thanked Begich for his service and the two men agreed a smooth transition was important.”

Des Moines Register: “[Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, announced that his] Iowa Freedom Summit will be in Des Moines on Saturday, Jan. 24, more than a year from the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. King's co-host is Citizens United, a conservative organization best known for influencing campaign finance in this country. Three Republicans who are seriously weighing 2016 presidential bids are already booked as headline speakers for the summit, which will have no cost to attend: Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Every Republican who's thinking about a White House bid has been invited, King told the Register.”

Santorum eyes June decision - Politico: “Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who nipped at Mitt Romney’s heels in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, says he’s eyeing mid-2015 for a decision about a second White House bid. ‘Four years ago, we ended up announcing in June of 2011. If past is a portent of the future, that’s probably a ballpark,’ he said in a phone interview. Santorum said he’s actively engaged with party donors and activists to assess whether he has a path to the nomination…”

The Hill: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), a possible 2016 presidential candidate, raised the subject of Hillary Clinton's age when discussing when he might run for president. ‘Whether it’s two years, six years, 20 years from now, because at 47, I mean I think about Hillary Clinton, I could run 20 years from now for president and still be about the same age as the former secretary of State is right now,’ Walker said in an interview with the local Fox affiliate published Sunday night…Walker is coming off of a high-profile reelection victory over Democratic challenger Mary Burke…He was noncommittal in the local Fox interview, though, saying he thinks someone should run if ‘they feel called to.’ ‘Right now, I still feel called to be governor of the state of Wisconsin,’ he said. ‘And I’m going to do the best job I can over the next four years.’”

You’ll need plenty of green crayons - USA Today: “Hillary: The Coloring Book depicts the former secretary of State/would-be candidate in 30 moments from childhood to her days as the nation’s top diplomat. The book by Ulysses Press even has a page titled “Whispers of another run?” that makes reference to those pantsuits Clinton favors. “Will Hillary dust off her impressive collection of executive pantsuits and make another run at the highest office in the country?”

AP: “Dale Hopfinger ran into a problem while trying to vote in Michigan: He was told he was dead. An election worker even told him that local records listed the date of his demise as Sept. 25. After some persuasion, Hopfinger says officials finally allowed him to cast a ballot last week in Lee Township. Hopfinger tells WNEM-TV he’s been working to figure out what happened, and that the Social Security Administration told him it was likely a clerical error. The 48-year-old said he plans to visit a Social Security office in Bay City on Friday to try to settle the issue.”

“I think this is an extension of the Secret Service scandal. Gruber jumped the fence into the White House, he got through an open door and sat in the Oval Office and joined 19 meetings and that’s exactly what happened.” – Charles Krauthammer  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

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.