Maybe Kyrsten Sinema Could Vote Against a Living Wage With a Little Less Enthusiasm?

Jack Holmes
·4 min read
Photo credit: Samuel Corum - Getty Images
Photo credit: Samuel Corum - Getty Images

From Esquire

What is the purpose of the Democratic Party? Sometimes, we are forced to ask. Because while 42 Democratic senators did indeed vote to take up a proposal on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by halfway through this coming decade—a plank of the 2020 party platform—eight voted against it. Many of the people who make less than $15 an hour right now are those essential workers we used to hear so much about in the beginning of the pandemic. You know, the people who everyone began to realize were so vital to the functioning of our society. Not vital enough to pay them a decent wage, it seems. The list of those in the Democratic caucus who nixed consideration of a minimum that would take effect five years from now consists of:

  • Chris Coons (D-DE)

  • Tom Carper (D-DE)

  • Angus King (I-ME)

  • Joe Manchin (D-WV)

  • Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

  • Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

  • Jon Tester (D-MT)

  • Krysten Sinema (D-AZ)

A lot of these folks seem to be under the impression that to be a Moderate Democrat you must occasionally—or often—distance yourself from popular policy ideas. This week, a Morning Consult poll found 60 percent of the American public supports the hike to $15. Just 32 percent opposed it in that survey. But the Savvy Purple-State Moderate Centrist Play is to strike it down. (Or, in Maggie Hassan's case, the play is to vote against it then tell reporters you "have long been supportive of increasing the minimum wage.") The exceptions are the two guys from Delaware, a safely blue state, who are really weird additions here until you remember that the Delaware state bird is the corporation. (OK, fine. It's the blue hen.) But the others have probably convinced themselves they can't do it because of the states from which they hail, even if Sinema's Arizona compatriot, Mark Kelly, voted in favor of the raise and he's up for reelection in two years. Sinema isn't up until 2024.

Which might be why she cast her vote against ensuring millions of people have a living wage in the following fashion:

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Glad we're all having fun. Happy Friday! Maybe we could do a little less Commodus here. Sinema issued a statement that in part continued the extended delusion that the same Republicans who are still saying the election was stolen—and voted unanimously against even beginning debate on the current COVID relief bill, which is significantly more popular than the minimum-wage hike—will come to the table and work out some Common Sense Solutions to the Problems Facing Our Nation. Any theoretical minimum-wage bill will need Republican support—which is definitely coming!—because Sinema also opposes getting rid of the filibuster.

Not to be outdone, though, the chamber's other most perplexing Democrat is looking for his time in the sun. My colleague, Charles P. Pierce, suggested a little while back that Manchin's behavior might just be reducible to Machiavellian terms: he simply likes the feeling of the power he now exercises over the upper chamber of the legislature. There does not seem to be any other reasoning behind what he's up to on this Friday afternoon, at the 11th hour, disrupting the passage of the COVID relief bill with, according to CNN's Manu Raju, the following demands:

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To be clear, the 10-grand in tax-exempt benefits Manchin is opposed to was inserted to avoid people getting slapped with a catastrophic surprise tax bill on unemployment benefits they received because they were thrown out of work due to the global pandemic going on. Surely Manchin's office has been inundated with calls from West Virginians demanding unemployment benefits be taxed, just as they were surely banging down his door earlier in the week demanding the income eligibility phaseout for stimulus checks should be marginally lowered. Or maybe he is just continually holding out for arbitrary concessions in order to feel like he's running the show. Meanwhile, the whole bill—including its funding for vaccine distribution, and its aid to unemployed workers whose current benefits are set to expire on the 14th of this month—is now stalled out in the Senate. Manchin's demands may upset the delicate balance of the bill, and could even see a revolt among progressive members of Congress who already feel like they've compromised all over the place to get the bill this far. Happy Friday, indeed.

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