Who Needs A Child Tax Credit Or $35 Insulin When Blue-Dog Dems Can Treat Themselves To Diamond Necklaces!
Politico held an exit interview this week with outgoing Democratic House Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Kathleen Rice. Murphy, who represents Florida’s Seventh Congressional District, announced last December that she wouldn’t seek re-election for a fourth term, bailing on a district that Joe Biden carried by 10 points. Murphy has rightly shredded Democrats' poor statewide performance in Florida, but then she weirdly praised wannabe despot gov, Ron DeSantis.
Earlier this month, she said, "I will give credit to Ron DeSantis.” Please don’t! "People voted for people who did pragmatic things that affected their lives. There were a lot of things that I would say he did that were questionable on that just from a Democratic perspective. However, people in Florida felt like they got through the pandemic relatively okay. And they rewarded that."
Rice, who represents New York’s Fourth Congressional District, announced her retirement in February, perhaps also fearing a Red Wave that never materialized. Whoopsie! The Fourth District, which Biden also won handily, was one of many seats New York Democrats gift-wrapped and delivered with a red bow on top to Republicans.
Rice and Murphy were best friends and roommates during their House tenures. They willingly dubbed their apartment the “Smokehouse” after Rice and Murphy "burned food in their oven just as people were showing up for their housewarming party.” This filled the house with smoke and thus Smokehouse, but we’re not pitching a Hulu sitcom so let’s move on. Rice infamously led a failed revolt against Nancy Pelosi’s second speakership bid in 2018, and Madame Speaker fucked her shit up good in response.
Rice and Murphy were outspoken critics of the Democratic agenda over the past two years. Both soon-to-be-former representatives are from solid blue districts. However, they were part of a “bipartisan” crew that included Sinema Party caucus leader Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Democratic Reps. Scott Peters and Seth Moulton, and Republican Reps. Michael McCaul, Brian Fitzpatrick, Tom Graves, Kevin Yoder, and John Katko. Even Kevin McCarthy came to the Smokehouse! They played Jenga and card games, presumably at gunpoint, which are my personal conditions.
According to the exit interview, Rice and Murphy have no regrets for opposing the more extreme elements of radical socialist Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, like say lowering prescription drug prices. Kurt Schrader, Peters, and Rice blocked that measure from reaching the House floor as part of Democrats’ original reconciliation package. Rice explained, “I do not support advancing policies that are not fiscally responsible and jeopardize the bill’s final passage."
When Murphy, co-chair of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition,
declared her opposition to Build Back Better in September 2021, she said she “[remained] optimistic that the comprehensive reconciliation package will be appropriately targeted and fiscally responsible — paid for by tax provisions that promote fairness but do not hurt working families."
But Rice, Murphy, and their fellow bipartisan crusaders were never interested in actually passing Build Back Better. Rice and Murphy freely admit this during their exit interview and discuss how they celebrated scuttling Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda.
Murphy, Rice and their close friend, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), bought matching diamond-adorned thorn-shaped necklaces to celebrate their roles, along with a handful of other moderates, in delivering President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill last fall.
“A diamond-studded thorn. There’s an analogy there,” Murphy said. “But we got the bill done. Sinema got it done on the Senate side, and we broke it free on the House side. … We believe in celebrating victories sometimes, just with jewelry.”
Back in reality, the bipartisan infrastructure bill could’ve still passed alongside Build Back Better. Their obstruction only succeeded in killing the reconciliation deal of Build Back Better. Murphy boasts about decoupling the bills, which many House members speculated at the time was merely a pretense for sabotaging BBB — and it did! All Sinema “got done” on the Senate side was perhaps promising Republicans that she’d string along the White House and congressional Democrats, gaining their necessary votes for passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill while never intending to deliver Build Back Better. If she’d been up front with Biden and Democratic leadership that the bipartisan infrastructure deal was the only one she’d let pass, she would’ve lacked the votes in the House, where most Republicans stood in opposition. Instead, she presented the illusion of a grand bipartisan bargain.
Calling yourself a “fiscal conservative” and opposing free universal pre-school, child tax credits, childcare expansion, and paid leave is certainly every Blue Dog’s right, but rewarding yourself with a diamond necklace seems kind of gross.
Murphy and Rice did vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, which Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin helped pass after humiliating Mitch McConnell. Maybe they figured they were on their way out to pasture anyway, but still good for them. That’s almost worth another diamond necklace.
[Editrix's note: If your response to this story is to bash SER or AOC, maybe check your priors, because neither SER nor the Squad tanked Joe Biden's major priorities, and it is annoying. Thank you, you're welcome!]
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."