Senate Republicans must be thanking their lucky stars for Kyrsten Sinema. She-- and Manchin, but mostly Sinema-- are in the process of turning Congress over to the Republicans. If the Democrats can't deliver on campaign promises-- Biden's Build Back Better omnibus proposals (aka, budget reconciliation)-- their base isn't going to show up at the polls next year. And neither Sinema nor Manchin-- not on the ballot next year-- could give a damn. Last night USA Today reported that "Black, Hispanic and Asian voters may have loathed Republicans, according to a major review of the 2020 election cycle, but they still need to be convinced to show up to the polls, and Democrats lacked a core argument about the economy or returning the country to normal in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic."
The NY Times underlined the dire situation Democrats find themselves in because of the power play by Sinema, every bit as much a malignant narcissist and sociopath as Trump. Schumer handpicked her as the party candidate in 2018-- and then cleared the field for her-- because she had the most vile right-wing record of any Democrat in the House and was generally the most hated and unrespected member. "Democrats in Congress," wrote Jim Tankersley and Golan Kanno-Youngs "are curbing their ambitions for President Biden’s economic agenda." Everything that he ran on has been eviscerated by Sinema (and Manchin) after beginning his presidency with a "wide-ranging agenda to remake the U.S. economy." Because of conservatives in his own party "he has shelved a series of his most ambitious proposals, some of them indefinitely. He has been thwarted in his efforts to raise the federal minimum wage and create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has pared back investments in lead pipe removal and other efforts that would help communities of color. Now, as the president tries to secure votes from the stinking and corrupt conservative shitbags Tankersley always calls "moderates" and "centrists" in his party, Biden "is reducing what was originally a $3.5 trillion collection of tax cuts and spending programs to what could be a package of $2 trillion or less."
While the White House still plays nice with Manchin, the sociopath from Arizona and a gaggle of right-wing House members, Bernie has begun letting loose on them. "Take a hard look at those people who are opposed to strong legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs and take a look at their campaign finance reports. See where they get their money, how many of them get their money from the pharmaceutical industry and the executives there. And I think there will be a direct correlation.“
You think Bernie was being harsh. Take a look at what Andrew Perez had to say at The Intercept a few days ago: "Big Pharma needed a senator to do their dirty work to kill or gut Democrats’ drug pricing plan. They found someone willing and able in Kyrsten Sinema." I've been warning DWT readers about the kind of cancerous tumor Sinema is for over a decade. (Now I'm warning-- with the same sense of urgency-- about Josh Gottheimer, Kurt Schrader, Ed Case, Lou Correa, Henry Cuellar, Scott Peters and the others seeking to derail Biden's already modest plans.)
May of 2020, Kaiser Health News wrote that Sinema had recently “emerged as a pharma favorite in Congress,” based on the fact that she had become “a leading recipient of pharma campaign cash even though she’s not up for reelection until 2024 and lacks major committee or subcommittee leadership posts.”
According to Kaiser’s pharma contribution tracker, Sinema received $121,000 worth of campaign donations from pharmaceutical company PACs in 2019 and 2020.
For some context, that’s double the amount of drug company PAC money she received during the 2018 election cycle, when she was on the ballot running for Senate. It’s more cash than she had raised from pharmaceutical company PACs during her entire congressional career to that point.
Now, over the course of her career, Sinema has accepted more than $500,000 from executives and PACs in the pharmaceutical and health products industries, according to data from OpenSecrets.
By March 2021, Big Pharma wasn’t just quietly funneling money to Sinema; the industry was publicly signaling that the senator could be its lead blocker in the fight to prevent the government from negotiating drug prices.
“Drug lobbyists see a potential ally in Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona moderate who has shown a willingness to break with her party,” Politico reported at the time.
Then, early last month, a corporate front group called Center Forward purchased $600,000 worth of television and radio ads promoting Sinema in Arizona. The ads touted her “independence” and characterized her as “a bipartisan leader” in the mold of the late senator John McCain.
As we reported, Center Forward has been heavily bankrolled by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the powerful Washington drug lobby. Two Center Forward board members lobby for PhRMA, as well as drugmakers Amgen, Bayer, Gilead Sciences, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, and Sanofi.
A few days after the ad campaign started, Sinema informed the White House she opposed the party’s drug pricing plan.
Now, senators are talking behind the scenes about ways they can water down the legislation to appease the drug industry, and a second Democratic holdout-- Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a longtime top recipient of drug industry cash-- has emerged to help Sinema and Big Pharma block the way.
For his part, Khanna said he has tried to reach out to Sinema. But though she was eagerly making herself available to her business donors opposing the reconciliation bill, she wasn’t interested in talking to the progressive congressman, even though he was one of the lead authors of the Medicare drug pricing bill.
“I’ve never met with her,” he said. “I’ve offered. She didn’t want to.”