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Rick Boucher Regrets Selling Out His District

A Critical Backer of Cap-&-Tax Suddenly Won't Take Credit

If you think the headline is too negative, consider that it’s more than I can say for Eric Massa. Unlike Massa, Boucher seems to regret having voted for cap-and-tax:

U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher voted for cap-and-trade legislation but said he doesn’t endorse the House-passed version of the bill…

“I voted for it because I had to do that to be part of the process and to make the changes that have been made,” Boucher said of the bill that passed by a seven-vote margin in the House and is now being considered by the Senate…

What is driving his involvement, said Boucher, is the U.S. Supreme Court determined two years ago that greenhouse gases are pollutants.

“As a consequence of that decision, the Environmental Protection Agency is, for all intents and purposes, effectively required to regulate greenhouse gases, …” Boucher said. “The debate about whether or not we will have regulation is over. So the only question is will EPA regulate or … will we have congressional regulation that does balance economic effect against environmental effect? Given that choice, industry would rather have Congress do this. Industry needs and wants a bill to pass.”

There are a few things to note here. First off, I’m not sure that the White House will appreciate Boucher essentially arguing that he has to vote for a terrible, job-destroying bill because if he doesn’t, the Obama administration will really sock it to Virginia. Further, the way to stay relevant on Capitol Hill is by voting against a bill. I realize that Boucher has only been in Congress for 26 years, but it’s the sort of thing some Members realize in as little as a decade. If you vote for a bill, the sponsor tends to think he has your support; if you vote against it, he’s more likely to try to win you over.

But of course, Boucher really doesn’t believe what he’s telling his local press. He’s hoping they’re a bunch of rubes that don’t see through his fiction. We can tell that’s true because Boucher was a critical backer of the bill, whose work and support won others over, too:

“I want to give a shout out to Rick Boucher,” [Transortation Secretary Ray] LaHood said. “It was unclear going into the hearings how Rick was really going to vote on this. His support means a lot to the administration…

The House committee voted Thursday to pass the bill, based largely on compromises worked out by Boucher…

LaHood’s call underscores Boucher’s importance to the bill’s chances of passing. It also emphasizes just how much the congressman from Abingdon has stuck his neck out for President Obama.

And why did Boucher ‘stick his neck out’ for President Obama? Well, if you were getting stroked by the President, you might sell out your constituents, too:

“the president has personally told me several times how important he thinks my role is in this.”

If that doesn’t make thousands of his constituents feel better So what if the bill costs when they’re standing in the unemployment line then what will? They ought to be honored to be part of something bigger than themselves – a real sacrifice. Boucher won’t even have that, as his job has always been secure.

And if you’re paying attention, you might wonder whether Boucher’s attitude about the president’s agenda seems to have suddenly changed now that he may finally face a serious Republican opponent. It’s interesting to see what motivates people.

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