Yves here. I had briefly considered whether Krysten Sinema or Joe Manchin might change parties last Thursday, when it was clear the Nancy Pelosi could not round up the votes to pass the infrastructure bill sent over from the Senate, and then deemed as Manchin as more likely to defect since he is a lone Democrat in a state dominated by Republicans. I have seen Sinema’s silence as her trying to have Manchin be the high profile bad guy, and riding on his slipstream. Politico contends that Sinema is running a dated playbook, that Arizona is becoming more blue and her sort of “centrism” is a bad place to be.
But Barkley Rosser’s reading is plausible. And Sinema being repeatedly accosted over her wanting to cut back the big Biden bill even further lays the groundwork for Sinema depicting herself as run out of the party (recall Biden basically said she should toughen up when asked about her being hounded in a bathroom).
By Barkley Rosser, Professor of Economics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Originally published at EconoSpeak
I have resisted posting something like this, but while I have yet to see anybody else suggest it, this possibility has been on my mind now for several days.
We have never seen to my knowledge a senator refuse to offer their views on possible resolution of a major disagreement involving money. The contrast to Sen. Sinema is her associate in the Senate in blocking various Dem initiatives (including undoing the filibuster, which would really open things up), Joe Manchin of WV. For how annoying he may be, at least we understand that he comes from one of the most pro-Trump states in the country, as well as the state being the heart of coal in the nation, so no surprise he resists limits on fossil fuels. So, no surprise he is resisting. But he art least actually provides numbers he wants and seems to be open to negotiation to come to a conclusion.
But Sinema is playing a game never seen before, ever. She says nothing. Apparently last week she had four private meetings at the White House with President Biden, yes, four. Apparently he tried really hard to get her to the Manchin stage, actually saying a number, much less details of what she would like to see removed from the current $3.5 trillion (over ten years) reconciliation bill. She may have hoped the House would pass the hard infrastructure bill, which she supports, so she and Manchin would have been in a position to either cherry pick details or outright block the soft reconciliation bill. I am unclear how much of her unprecedented behavior is a matter of ignorance and stupidity or something else.
So, here I am worrying about the something else. She was originally a Green, supporting Ralph Nader in 2000 when his campaign probably put Bush in instead of Gore. So, she has been drifting to the right, with this buzz about her personal life that got mocked on SNL last Saturday. So now we have this spectacle of her refusal to even meet with AZ voter groups has led to her being “harassed” as Fox News is now huffing and puffing about. Poor thing, people filming her in a restroom and confronting her in various public places. Poor thing.
Well, I am now getting suspicious of what she is up to here with all this, whether it comes before or after whatever resolution of all these big policy debates comes about, not to mention the matter of the debt ceiling issue, which would easily be handled if the filibuster would be shut down, which she could decisively support. But, hey, McConnell is looking at polls that suggest that if a failure to raise the debt ceiling leads to a major economic crash, a majority of voters will blame Biden and the Dems.
So we get reports that rather than meeting with AZ voters who supported her, much less saying a single word about a number or details on the reconciliation bill that might lead her to support it, she has been meeting repeatedly with various corporate funders giving her money and urging her to at least modify if not just outright oppose the reconciliaton bill. What does this mean?
I fear this is a prelude to a cataclysmic move: Sinema changing parties to the GOP. This would put the GOP in charge of the US Senate, with Mitch McConnell in charge there. This would be the end of basically anything Biden or other Dems would like to do at all in the Congress. Sinema already is more popular in the GOP than she is with Dems. With piles of corporate money, the GOP in the Senate would welcome her munificently and reward her greatly. But while this might make her a short-term star, AZ is changing, and Dems will make sure this is the last term she serves in the Senate if she follows through on this, and may well do so anyway through the primary process if she stays with the Dems while continuing to behave as she has been recently.