Blanche Lincoln: A Supporter of Industry Finds Herself Vulnerable

by Sam Eifling  on Monday, Mar. 29, 2010 12:00 am  

Upon its passage Lincoln hailed the health package (while decrying the reconciliation version of the bill). She mentioned that she and Olympia Snowe, the moderate Washington Republican, shared credit for a portion of the bill that will allow small businesses to pool together to buy health insurance in part because the public option "just put at risk too much, taxpayers and the treasury, for long-term cost."

She was happier with a $140 billion bill to create jobs and renew a host of expired tax credits for biodiesel and other research and development. She advocates extending tax incentives for those areas, timber, steel, and farming, and complementing support for renewable energy with the same for coal, natural gas, oil exploration and nuclear energy.

"I've never seen a tax incentive high enough for wind energy that I wouldn't support," she said. "That's great. As long as you make sure that the ability in the marketplace to compete is still there for natural gas, which is also half the carbon emission that coal is, and why not provide the incentive for clean coal technology?"

Another Midterm

Lincoln's stance on incentives - "We're never going to get to where we want to be without everybody being at the table" - echoes her insistence on bipartisan lawmaking. But politically, people are picking sides. She won her House seat in 1992, as Bill Clinton claimed the presidency. In 1994 she endured a midterm election in which Republicans ran as a phalanx, unified against the new administration, and beat 34 incumbent House Democrats on the way to the first GOP House majority in 40 years. Now, behind in the polls, with another first-term Democrat in the White House and Republicans sharpening their knives, Lincoln is reminded of 1994.

"The expectations in presidential years," she said, "are that we're going to solve these problems" - she snapped her fingers - "like that. And then you get two years into it, and people realize you're not going to solve it like that."

Lincoln won that House race by seven points, a veritable landslide considering the fortunes of her caucus. To match that feat of survival, the tug-of-war rope will have to find more pull, and soon.



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