The most dangerous possibility — she believes everything she says
Seems like Sinema is trying to emulate McCain’s maverick persona, e.g. his thumbs down on ACA repeal. But the thing is, McCain almost certainly would have lost his next primary. Also… there is a difference between voting down unpopular bills and standing in the way of popular bills.
Anyway, I think it’ll be important for the “primary Sinema” movement to frequently contrast Sinema and Kelly (“while Mark Kelly is fighting to lower prescription drug prices, Kyrsten Sinema wants to keep prices high to protect her donors”). Bolsters Kelly’s popularity while also making the objections to Sinema seem more reasonable, not just far-left complaining.
Two Sinema episodes from her House career standout, and I think demonstrate that she may very well be sincere, but politically stupid.
Back in 2013, as a freshman member, Sinema voted for the original GOP Farm Bill which famously failed on the floor (https://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/how-the-farm-bill-failed-093209) because a significant share of Republican members felt like the bill didn't cut spending enough, while the cuts to food stamps had alienated the Democratic caucus.
But 24 Democrats did vote for the bill, and they are largely the moderate to rural Democrats from farm-oriented districts. And then there was Sinema, from a suburban Phoenix House seat, voting for cuts to food stamps for ... reasons? To be politically moderate?
It didn't really make sense, and the reports at the time were that she cried on the floor, overwhelmed by the vote to cut food stamps while reflecting on her own time growing up as a child homeless and dependent on government assistance. She sincerely felt like she had to vote yes, even though it was "difficult" for her.
Less compelling, but still interesting, a few years later, Sinema is one of the only Democrats to back a weird proposal from House Republicans to privatize the air traffic control system (https://thehill.com/policy/transportation/341367-crunch-time-for-air-traffic-control-push). It's a bit wonky, and the idea itself (Canada has a similar approach) isn't necessarily bad, but the GOP version was tilted heavily towards the big airlines and their demands. But Sinema hadn't been seen as a big aviation policy person and wasn't on the Transportation Committee. It was widely seen as "Oh there's Sinema doing whatever the corporations want."
One of the only other Democrats to back the idea at the time? Josh Gottheimer.
Her political instincts seem heavily influences by corporate lobbyists and their view of the world. That's been clear recently with the reconciliation fight, but it's been apparent for some time from her House career. Just no one cared when she was just one House member.
I feel like this is the political journalism equivalent of putting the horse's head at Sinema's doorstep.
Yes, I too have been watching mafia-related films in anticipation of the Sopranos prequel.
I don't think I've ever seen Matt target a politician this harshly since Joe Lieberman although I think he is correct and this is a deserved post.
My only defense of Sinema here is that carbon taxes are very good and, while true, it’s a damn shame they’re so unpopular. The Shor-pill eventually comes for all, I suppose.
> But if you know anyone involved in elite levels of conservative movement economic policy (which frankly and sadly, few progressives actually seem to)...
This is what we pay you for, Matt: To endure the unendurable on our behalf.
Not only Can I imagine it. This is exactly what I expect.
“ But you can imagine a world where Sinema-ism takes over, and Democrats become an upscale suburban party that supports free trade and balanced budgets. A party that doesn’t rock the boat and taxes and spending. Where everybody reads “Lean In” and “White Fragility” and makes sure the company they work at runs DEI seminars. And, where you are constantly losing elections due to the lopsided nature of the Senate map, but even when you do govern, you’re just a kind of technocratic clean-up crew that doesn’t really try to tackle major social problems.”
I don't think that there are any guiding principles behind her behavior in office. I think she loves the attention and the power to jerk people around.
My goodness Matt, you're letting your social Democrat flag fly. I agree with the thrust off this article. But, the subtitle is misleading. "She believes everything she says" does not actually characterize her views. Remember, her career started in the Arizona Green Party. I would suggest she believes in precisely one thing, the career of Kristen Sinama. We have a sufficient supply of narcissistic politicians in both parties, we don't need her.
The difference between opposing higher taxes generally and opposing price controls or burdens that target the pharmaceutical industry specifically is about distortion. Higher taxes of general application don't single out high value activities like drug development and punish them. Even with higher taxes in general, money will still flow towards higher value investments. And pharmaceutical development has such high returns because it's such a socially valuable activity. It's the last industry we should single out for punishment, especially while leaving unaddressed all the other less socially valuable rent-seeking in healthcare.
There is nothing wrong with favoring a point on the growth/redistribution trade off that is less redistributionist than other people in your party. What is odd is not being willing to negotiate on the issue.
Holding 100% of your caucus together is very unusual. Republicans barely passed the TCJA and failed to repeal the ACA with 2 senators to spare. Democrats have 0.
Sinema will not be the last centrist Democrat to go off the reservation.
This reinforces to me the desperate need to find some way of winning more senate seats, so the leader can indulge these mavericks with the occasional no vote without the whole legislative agenda failing.
Kyrsten Sinema has been a disappointment, to put it mildly. Manchin has, at the least, made public what he's for, and I like much of what he wants. He says he supports raising taxes (good), he says he supports expanding the Child Tax Credit (also good). He wants to means test as much as possible (eh, I can take it or leave it), and he wants a lower top line figure (fine). That's at least a start. I am confident Schumer, Pelosi, and the Progressive Caucus can inch Manchin up.
I have no idea what Sinema is doing, and she's running against her own platform. That's not smart politics.
I don't want to lose your broader (strong) point, but would it be so bad if Democrats spent a little bit of their windows of government control focused on strengthening existing programs and improving governance?
I appreciate that it's not *fair* to put the good functioning of the government onto Democrats but (a) Republicans certainly aren't going to do it and (b) Democrats are the ones who think we should expand government. I do think there are lots of voters *cough* Biden voters *cough* that would really like to see a responsible government with limited new policy ambitions focused on making the government work effectively and efficiently rather than just slamming a few trillion into new programs built on top of the existing shaky foundation.
Sinema strikes me as someone who either believes what she says, or believes she has to be a moderate to win Arizona, and chooses the issues where she cares less about the Democratic platform to be the ones she is moderate on.
And the (left-leaning) issues she cares about most are the social ones - LGBTQ+ rights, DEI initiatives, all that sort of thing. I suspect that because she is bisexual and doesn't go to church, she also understands that she cannot credibly appeal to "family-values voters" on the right.
I have two thoughts from this post that aren't that related to Kyrsten Sinema but I'll write them anyway.
1) Right now so many things are so difficult because everyone is understaffed. Restaurants are plagued by bad service. God help you if you need a plumber or an electrician or concrete poured. People see "Help Wanted" signs everywhere. My linkedin is a steady stream of people trying to hire... and these are for decent paying, white collar jobs too. While there are plenty of popular things in the bill, I wonder if we're underrating the pushback from upper-middle class Democrats who see everything understaffed and chafe a bit at a lot of the spending in the bill. I don't know. I don't care how big it is honestly, but every week I run into "I'm sorry, we're a little understaffed" from someone and imagine that annoyance carries over into people's opinions on how much we should be funding some of these programs.
2) A Democratic Party that's (most of the educated white people) + (virtually all of the black people, most of whom don't have college degrees) + (a large but pretty rapidly declining Latino population, most of whom don't have college degrees) is pretty weird.
"I am the furthest thing in the world from a DINO hunter"
-Matt Yglesias, while aiming down his sight at a DINO