Daily Catch: White House rules, Snowden, Potato Wars and the East-West Corridor…


Unilateral Climate Policy: President Obama is prepared to unveil a new regulation on June 2 that will, according to reports, be the most significant climate policy of his administration — and he’s ready to implement it unilaterally, without Congressional approval. According to Vox.com, Obama plans to use the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s existing authority over green house gas regulation to impose strict new requirements on power plants. From Vox.com:  “On June 2, the EPA will propose a rule to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from the nation’s existing coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. The New York Times reports that the rule could require coal plants to cut their emissions up to 20 percent (that’s equivalent to roughly 6 percent of all US emissions).”

Bilderberg: Get out your tin foil hats! Starting Thursday, a group of the worlds most powerful (and wealthy) individuals will gather at a five-star Marriott Hotal in Copenhagen, Denmark to discuss mankind’s most pressing challenges. The group, which has been meeting since the 1950’s, is a perennial target of conspiracy theorists, who see it as a cohort of elites bent on undermining democratically set policy. 

No Growth: The U.S.’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – a critical measures of economic health – shrank for the first time since 2011, in the first quarter of this year. From Bloomberg: “Gross domestic product fell at a 1 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, a bigger decline than projected, after a previously reported 0.1 percent gain, the Commerce Department said today inWashington. The last time the economy shrank was in the same three months of 2011. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.5 percent drop.”

Gun Safety: Four adults and one child were injured after a handgun accidentally discharged on Thursday during a police “safety” talk in Zhengzhou, China.

Spy: Edward Snowden, in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, wants you to know that he’s no low-level analyst. He’s actually a highly-trained spy. Check out the full interview here.

Foreign Policy: President Obama’s speech on foreign policy at the West Point commencement ceremony has been widely panned by friend and foe alike, and no one was thrilled. The New York Times said his speech missed a chance on foreign affairs, while TheHill.com said his “empty foreign policy vision” fell flat. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was perhaps the harshest critic. “He’s a very, very weak president,” Cheney told Fox News. “Maybe the weakest — certainly in my lifetime.”

Obamacare Still Unpopular: Despite the federal government’s claims of success with enrollment at healthcare.gov, a Gallup poll released Thursday shows the Affordable Care Act is still unpopular with the American people. According to the poll, just 43 percent of respondents approve of the law, while 51 percent disapprove. The data is based on in-person interviews with more than 2,500 individuals. Over the long-run, 37 percent believe the law will make things better, 44 percent say it will make things worse, and 16 percent say it won’t make a difference. Earlier reports from other pollster have shown that Maine voters’ opinion of the health care law is similar to attitudes nationally.

Tea Party Crackdown: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, and his allies are planning a sharp crackdown on elected officials aligned with the tea party movement. From Politico: “A group of his closest allies — including fellow Ohio Republicans like Pat Tiberi — are discussing tactics such as trying to change GOP Conference rules to punish members who do not support the party’s nominee during a floor vote. A lawmaker who bucks the Republicans’ choice for speaker could lose committee assignments — or worse. Boehner’s allies have already stripped some Republicans of their committee assignments for straying too far from the team.” The crackdown comes as some House conservatives have reportedly been plotting to remove Boehner from his speakership.

No Dumping: The Internal Revenue Service has issued a strident new rule that will fine  American employers who attempt to “dump” employees into federal or state-run exchanges. The IRS’s new rule will fine business owners $100 dollars a day – or $36,500 a year – for every employee who obtains coverage in an exchange. The rule comes as many large corporations were determining the most cost-effective way to provide health insurance benefits to employees. Many were considering different ways to send high-cost individuals – such as those with pre-existing conditions – onto the exchanges. Ironically, many corporations and lobbying groups who supported Obamacare precisely because it would allow them to save money in such a manner have now had the rug pulled out from under them by a esoteric rule change that was not part of the original package.

Potato Wars: First Lady Michelle Obama and Maine Sen. Susan Collins are going head-to-head in a battle over the nutritional value of the fresh, white potato. Collins, who grew up in northern Maine’s potato country, is fighting to have the potato included in USDA healthy eating guidelines, which will ensure that food assistance programs subsidize the tuber. Michelle Obama, however, has dispute the health value of the potato and defended its omission in a New York Times op-ed.

The Old Mike: The Maine Wire has obtained a copy of an economic development plan written by Democratic U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud in advance of his first congressional campaign in 2002. The document reads like something from the contemporary tea party movement and includes, among other things, a remarkably strong endorsement of the controversial East-West corridor. Wrote Michuad: ““There is probably no single thing that Congress could do that will provide more economic benefit to the Second District than the building of this road.”

As Maine Goes: The Maine Wire is pleased to be teaming up with As Maine Goes, Maine’s oldest political Website, to bring you a series of interviews with Maine political figures. Check out our first interview with Republican candidate for the First Congressional District Isaac Misiuk. Keep an eye out for future interviews.


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