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Senator Sinema: The Outsider Is In

Jamie Stiehm on

I spied a woman in a purple and silver wig, walking around the Senate floor with astronaut Mark Kelly, who was newly sworn in as a Democratic senator from Arizona.

Bewildered by her get-up, unsure what she was doing, I asked the woman by the elevator, "Sorry, but who are you?"

"I'm Senator Sinema," she replied cheerfully.

And that still is the question of the hour. Who are you, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and what are you doing?

On paper, she's a freshman Democrat. In real life, she's a woman who has crashed her own political party, giving a patient president heartburn in postponing his dearest political dreams. Build Back Better, President Joe Biden's social infrastructure package, has yet to pass after months in limbo. In politics, sooner is always better than later. Biden missed an opportunity to go to a climate summit with major legislation in his pocket.

If it wasn't a 50-50 Senate, the flaws and foibles of a freshman wouldn't matter much. But it is and it does. Sinema (along with Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat) hold up the Democratic train as if there is all the time in the world to delay its departure, with governor races on the line.

 

To Sen. Bernie Sanders', I-Vt., vocal distress, Sinema stood against lowering the cost of prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry is a big donor to her campaign funds.

Even more astounding, Sinema didn't give a nickel or dime when Biden met face to face with her about raising taxes to pay for the new New Deal he put forth as his legacy. The corporate rate would go from 21% to 28%. She refused to back down. Her strength or his weakness: you tell me.

Democrats had to scramble to find another way to pay for the package, by a higher tax on wealthy individuals.

Here's where it gets interesting -- or confusing. In the House, Sinema opposed the 2017 Trump tax cuts, which slashed the corporate rate from 35% to 21%.

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Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

 

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