Sinema Hints at What May Still Be Hanging Her up on BBB Bill

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

I must admit to having been wrong when it comes to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). I’ve said this before.

While, likely, I would not agree with her on every political point, my main fear when she was elected was that she was just going to be another radical leftist. But she’s proven me wrong, and she’s also proven a couple of other things that I like about her — whether I agree with her or not. She’s shown grit and determination in the face of all kinds of forces and even mob harassment. She’s the one who has actually persisted, when other Democrats carelessly throw around that term.

Sinema is often criticized by those on the left for playing things too close to the vest and not sharing her ideas. But it seems to me that she’s actually been quite clear what she means when she’s spoken. It’s just that she’s not into spewing incessantly like some politicians are.

However, she did sit down with Politico recently. She shared some of her thoughts and gave a hint as to the issues which may still be holding her up on the Build Back Better bill.

First, she chastised the Democrats for trying to paper over differences and force everyone into the same ideological box, saying that differences were natural.

“I’ve been concerned at the push that happens in both parties, this push to have no disagreements. To only have unity or to only speak with one voice. And some will say, ‘Oh, that is our strength,’” Sinema said. “Having some disagreement is normal. It is real, it is human. And it’s an opportunity for us as mature beings to work through it.”

In a 35-minute interview in her miniature, pink-hued Capitol hideaway office, Sinema dressed down Democratic leadership for setting expectations too high. She also defended the right of her critics to protest her, but not to follow her into a bathroom and “unfairly and illegally” victimize the students she teaches at Arizona State. Sinema also revealed why she’s constantly spotted on the floor chatting with GOP leader McConnell: “He has a dry sense of humor. It’s underrated.”

Sinema also took on the left’s attacks on her clothing. Normally, if she were in line with their political thought pattern, they probably would have called her fashion sense ‘edgy.’ But because they don’t like her, they attack it.

“It’s very inappropriate. I wear what I want because I like it. It’s not a news story, and it’s no one’s business,” Sinema said. “It’s not helpful to have [coverage] be positive or negative. It also implies that somehow women are dressing for someone else.”

But she’s against some of the tax hikes in the BBB bill. She doesn’t want to raise the tax rates on corporations or on higher-income earners; She said she “will not support tax policies that have a negative impact on our economic climate.” However she does differ from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in that she’s more embracing of some of the climate things in the bill.

What does that mean, if push comes to shove on the bill? She’s already shown she’s willing to hold the line. We’ve already received indications that the CBO score is going to show the bill isn’t fully paid for, as the Biden team has claimed. So, that’s likely not to play well with either Sinema or Manchin.

Sinema did not reveal to Politico how she will vote on the bill. “I’m still in the process of negotiating the second provision of the president’s agenda … and I don’t negotiate in the press.”

She criticized the Democrats for trying to shove everything and the kitchen sink into the bill originally, with its $3.5 trillion price tag.

“You’re either honest or you’re not honest. So just tell the truth and be honest and deliver that which you can deliver,” Sinema said. “There’s this growing trend of people in both political parties who promise things that cannot be delivered, in order to get the short-term political gain. And I believe that it damages the long-term health of our democracy.”

How refreshing that is. And it’s similar to Manchin, in that they believe in more realistic efforts to compromise and get things they are able to get with broader agreement with Republicans. We’ll have to see what happened when it finally comes down to the vote on this, because there’s so much that’s objectionable in it. But they’ve both shown that they could walk away, if it isn’t to their liking.