That shiny, shallow moderation is also a throwback to the political eras that Sinema, 45, grew up with. It’s former President Bill Clinton’s obsession with making sure aid only goes to the right people mixed with the Obama administration’s belief in the power of numbers. Sinema’s likely show only one part of the picture, the total cost, but to keep that as the sole focus is to miss the point of what progressive Democrats are trying to do.
Is there an Excel formula that shows the number of Americans who will be hurt when the number in the spending column for each program is cut down? Is there a row for the amount of carbon emissions that will be reduced for each dollar spent on green initiatives? Is there a chart showing how forcing shorter lifespans for social safety net programs will affect families planning for the future? (I’ve asked Sinema’s office to provide details about just what’s in those binders she’s hauling to her meetings, but they did not respond prior to publication.)
Manchin, at least, has been willing to talk about what programs he might want cut. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, he suggested adding new requirements to the child tax credit expansion that many of his fellow Democrats want to make permanent.
“Let’s make sure we’re getting it to the right people,” Manchin said. “There’s no work requirements whatsoever. There’s no education requirements. Don’t you think if you want to help the children, the people should make some effort?”
Now, do I agree with any of that? Absolutely not! Neither do most Democrats, who are pretty gung-ho on keeping the child tax credit expansion intact in the reconciliation bill. Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told The New Republic there’s “almost zero chance” the amount of the credit will be reduced in the Senate. But Manchin being willing to state his position out loud and in detail is something I’ve yet to see from Sinema.
Sinema is trying to project seriousness on what is fundamentally an unserious project. In trying to protect her seat in 2024 when she faces her first re-election campaign, she’s gone all-in on trying to convince Arizona Republicans and independents that she’s on their side. But she’s still refusing to grapple with what being on their side means for the people behind her spreadsheets’ numbers.