One of the problems facing Joe Biden’s presidency is that he can’t make much headway on his domestic agenda, thanks to the opposition of two of his fellow Democrats: Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Neither would reform the filibuster, which allows Republicans to stop virtually all bills not related to the budget. Nor would the pair agree to the large spending domestic spending bill, known as Build Back Better (BBB), that the president proposed.
But now Manchin is suggesting that he’s open to a much pared-down BBB spending bill that would meet at least some of the president’s goals. Which means, the only person who could be standing in the way of Biden’s agenda — and her own party’s success — would be Sinema.
Following Biden’s State of the Union address, Manchin floated the broad outlines of a bill that would win his support. It would focus on prescription drug savings and tax reform. Any savings from those areas would be split between reducing the deficit, addressing inflation, and enacting new climate and social programs.
Manchin cited fear of deficits and inflation for refusing to back Biden’s Build Back Better proposal. The senator’s new idea is a lot less pricey, but it does hit two of the most popular issues with the public: drug pricing and corporations not paying their fair share of taxes.
It’s also the last shot Democrats have of getting any legislation passed before the midterms. Even with Manchin’s record of being someone who moves the goalposts a lot, other Democrats are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“There’s so much that we all agree on, that we ought to be able to get a deal,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Politico.
If Manchin is serious — and that is a big if — that leaves just one hold out: Sinema.
Will anything make the out bisexual Senator move off her opposition? The answer seems to be no. Sinema’s spokesperson said that modest tax reforms passed last year would already accomplish what Manchin is looking for.
“Any new, narrow proposal — including deficit reduction — already has enough tax reform options to pay for it. These reforms are supported by the White House, target tax avoidance, and ensure corporations pay taxes, while not increasing costs on small businesses or everyday Americans already hurting from inflation,” Hannah Hurley, a spokesperson for Sinema, told Politico.
In other words, Sinema is perfectly happy with the way the tax system is currently structured. She doesn’t want to revisit it if that means raising taxes on corporations.
The prescription drug portion of Manchin’s proposal isn’t something Sinema would like either. After all, she was the one who killed Biden’s plan to allow Medicare to negotiate drug pricing, something that would have saved American taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
Of course, if you look at who is contributing to Sinema’s campaign these days, you wouldn’t be surprised at her attitude. The erstwhile Green Party candidate is now a pal of pharmaceutical and corporate lobbyists.
For over a year now, Washington has been playing a game of “What does Sinema want?” She just wants to gratify her own ego. She may have some delusional belief about running for president.
But there’s one thing she doesn’t want: any legislation. She’s not interested in the job that voters sent her to do. She just wants to kill her party’s chance of success. For whatever reason, she doesn’t seem to understand that in doing so, she has also killed her own political career.