Brief of the Week Jan. 4, 2010

WHAT WAS IN IT FOR LINCOLN? That’s what many people were wondering when the Senate passed Harry Reid’s radical health care measure with support from Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D.-Ark), even though a Rasmusssen poll shows 67% of her constituents oppose the measure. Sleuths on Capitol Hill have so far found no massive pork-barrel payoff for Lincoln such as those that Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana (“The Louisiana Purchase”) or Ben Nelson of Nebraska (“Cornhusker Kickback”) were given for their votes for the health care package (See cover story.). At best, Hill sources note, she will be able to claim credit for restoring $50 million in funding for abstinence education in the bill — important in Arkansas, which has a high teen-pregnancy rate. So speculation is mounting that Lincoln may well be rewarded with a high Administration position if, as now seems likely, she loses re-election this fall. In polls taken before the health care vote, Rasmussen showed the two-term senator losing to the four leading Republican candidates: State Sen. Gilbert Baker, who beats Lincoln 47% to 39% statewide; State Sen. Kim Hendren, who leads her by 44% to 41%; businessman Curtis Coleman (43% to 41%); and Tom Cox, leader of the state Tea Party movement (43% to 40%).