Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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Boxer’s Greatest Hits — Less One?

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While the nation’s capital waited breathlessly yesterday for the coming showdown on Obamacare and budget reconciliation, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham was telling reporters what seemed inevitable in this off-the-rails Congress: cap-and-trade legislation is dead for the time being.

That Graham would say this is no small matter, as he’s one of three senators (along with John Kerry and Joe Lieberman) who’s been working behind the scenes for a bipartisan approach to the climate-change controversy — at least, one that can muster 60 Senate votes.

And it’s not-so-swell news for California Sen. Barbara Boxer, for at least two reasons:

1) The bill comes under the domain of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs. Cap-and-trade did make it out of committee, but it stalled on the Senate floor — in part, because Boxer’s not the kind of LBJ-esque insider who’s skilled at muscling legislation through a reluctant chamber. Imagine the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee crashing and burning on a landmark tax reform measure, and that’s the embarrassment Boxer faces.

2) Up for re-election in an already hostile political climate, the lack of a successful climate-change bill to tout leaves Boxer with one less achievement to tout — and begs the question of what exactly she has accomplished during her 18 years in the U.S. Senate.

Where does Boxer go from here?

Well, for openers, there’s the “depends on what the definition of is is” debate over whether cap-and-trade “is” indeed dead — or so the New York Times writes.

Beware the partisan tuba

Second, Boxer has to act quickly, and make an election-year calculation.
Does she take a more visible role in the deal-cutting process?
It seems an unlikely fit for the hyperpartisan Boxer — like adding a tuba to a piccolo arrangement.

Or, does she immediately shift into spin mode and brace for impact?

Whereas the President seems poised to do the latter if he doesn’t get his way via reconciliation — blame an Obamacare defeat on a love affair between Republicans and heath insurers — watch for Boxer to portray cap-and-trade as a victim of the GOP’s bromance with Big Oil.

Not to suggest that Boxer has already moved on, but the lead headline on her Web site, the last time we checked: “Boxer Presses Toyota on Safety”.


Written by Bill Whalen

March 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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