Joe Biden Hauls Sinema, Manchin To Oval Office For Loving, Genial Threat Session
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the plucky centrist from Arizona, has armed herself with what Axios called “secret spreadsheets" for the negotiations over President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion budget plan. (Negotiations that will take place in person with Senator Joe Manchin — separately, like they are in trouble at school — and President Joe Biden today!) The spreadsheets are so secret she won't shut up about them as she "strategizes with colleagues about next steps in the budget process." It's not clear yet what exactly she or her advisers on the chamber of commerce want but Sinema is nonetheless bringing an “accountant-like focus" to the proceedings. This implies that all the other Democrats would spend money like they're making a Marvel movie if it wasn't for Sinema's responsible centrism.
Sinema and Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, aren't necessarily aligned on which Democratic priorities they can tolerate. Is increased spending on childcare, health care, education, and the environment really worth raising taxes slightly on corporations and the wealthy? Sinema will just have to refer to her spreadsheets for the answer.
It wasn't that long ago that Donald Trump and the GOP Congress shattered the US piggy bank and surrendered the contents to the wealthiest Americans. The tax scam bill was unpopular and remained so until Americans kind of forgot about how bad they'd been screwed over. This is a common GOP tactic. Meanwhile, Biden and the Democrats' plan is overwhelming popular, but Sinema and Manchin are still trying to nickel-and-dime it to death.
Majority Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already thanked his pet Democrats for their service, but conservative pundits are also heaping on the praise. Make no mistake: Republicans don't think they need a “big, strong" Democratic party. They're fine with a teeny-weeny one that's weak as a kitten. That's why they're so thrilled that Sinema and Manchin specifically are “saving Democrats from themselves." Democrats are currently the only major political party that's not an authoritarian cult of personality, but they're still prone to excesses, such as actually governing like Democrats when voters put them in charge.
When someone on Twitter suggested that Manchin was a closet Republican (I disagree, as only Democrats are chumps about “bipartisanship"), Republican Amanda Carpenter tweeted: “I prefer to think that Manchin is playing a crucial role saving the Democrats from themselves." In reality, Manchin is playing a crucial role saving corporations from the tax rate they endured pre-Trump. (Even former Republican House Rep. Joe Scarborough called bullshit on corporations crying poverty.) Manchin will also put the brakes on any significant efforts at addressing the climate crisis, even as New York rapidly becomes New Atlantis.
Republican Matt Lewis declared Senator "Obi-Wan" Manchin America's “last hope against Democrats gone wild." He claimed that Democrats are using slim majorities to “shoot the moon," which is more like something Republicans would do if they thought they could find oil. I'm so goddamn tired of Republicans whining about “slim Democratic majorities" and asking for participation trophies when Republicans spent the past four years drastically reshaping the judiciary with equally slim majorities. Trump had also lost the popular vote. Lewis fully supported Amy Coney Barrett's drive-by confirmation to the Supreme Court with zero Democratic votes (not even Manchin, who boasts of his votes for Trump's hack judges). Republicans governed under the maxim “we have the votes, so fuck you."
I've been posting a lot of Rebecca's tweets lately, but:
I *absolutely understand* that us screaming and yelling cusses at Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin is NOT going to pe… https://t.co/dkCc94grYA— Master Rebecca Schoenkopf, Wonkette Editrix, King (@Master Rebecca Schoenkopf, Wonkette Editrix, King) 1631668114.0
That's who can "fuck you." And we hope Joe Biden is better at "persuasion."
You damn well should shoot for the moon when you have the presidency, the House, and the Senate. Voters don't give you the keys to the castle just so you can feed the cats while Sinema checks her spreadsheets. And when Barack Obama took office in 2009 with a Senate supermajority and 79-seat margin in the House, they still said Democrats should slow their roll. Anyone who paid attention over the past 12 years knows that Democrats must strike while the iron is hot because they'll spend the next several years defending democracy itself from the GOP death cult.
Instead of spreadsheets, Sinema should bring a calendar to these budget negotiations. There is only such much time left to do some real good for Americans.
I leave you with this video from 2010 because I miss this Kyrsten Sinema.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."