ACCORDING TO LIZ - People are hanging on tenterhooks over what Kyrsten Sinema might extract from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 in order for Democrats to successfully move the bill through the Senate.
But the bill has already made many concessions to get Joe Manchin on-board, including expediting environmental reviews for major fossil fuel projects, fast-tracking the bitterly-opposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, opening the door to oil drilling on millions of acres of public lands, and strictly limiting the number of drugs that would be impacted by the pharmaceutical section.
Many Republicans as well as Bernie Sanders and other progressive, are all set to carve out portions beneficial or inimical to them or their constituents.
The people of the United States need this bill passed with no additional conciliatory deviations. The fine tweaking can come later, once the deed is done.
Yes, the fact that Medicare Part D pays on average twice as much as the Department of Veterans Affairs is deplorable. Yes, Sinema’s Wall Street backers are lobbying fiercely to exclude the removal of the discriminatory carried-interest provision from the Act.
The latter – a tax dodge whereby private equity tycoons and hedge fund managers pay half what they ought to pay to the IRS – would fund much of the benefits of the bill.
Yes, all the Republicans who oppose “big” government when it affects their own pocketbooks but are busily expanding invasive legislation that affects the private lives of ordinary people are expected to oppose the bill tooth and nail.
However, Mitch McConnell conceded on Fox News that the November elections may no longer give the Republicans control of the Senate.
He also claimed that the United States is a 50-50 nation, but that is only true in the gerrymandered Senate where progressives and pragmatists in populous states have been forced to cede control to the rural conservatives.
But even that constituency is not a lock given the state of the country today.
Sinema is in the pocket of the pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street and would have to give up her campaign financing from them to oppose the greed of the former and the egregious tax loophole for hedge fund managers and their ilk. Why bother hounding her?
She either will or she won’t.
On the other hand Senators representing states deeply affected by climate change and economic issues that would benefit significantly from the Inflation Reduction Act might be brought around.
Healthcare subsidies, reduced pharmaceutical costs, support for solar and wind power and other projects that have the potential to provide a powerful economic boost when the country needs it the most may prove to be very popular in rural and conservative America.
Recent headlines are on the side of passing the Act intact:
- the abortion rights win in deep red Kansas, the geographic center of Republican America, shows a people starkly at odds with their elected officials… with an election on the horizon
- most Americans, especially those without college degrees and dependent on the shrinking purchasing power of an hourly wage, have been on an economic waterslide to the bottom while an ever-increasing portion of profit and stock market growth goes right to the top
- the fiction that tax cuts for the rich somehow trickle down no longer holds water
- coal mining and neglect has left southeastern Kentucky at the mercy of flooding
- rancor is growing against the politically powerful in Texas as stories continue to break about Loving County – population 64, registered voters 97 – where less than 700 square miles of desert generates an average annual tax base of $8 billion, 99% from oil and gas, and the lucky elected officials preside over a $28 million budget
- raging wildfires in the west, record heat, droughts and flooding are showing all Americans that climate change is not only real, it is already affecting them in ways that are both physically and financially dangerous
- a heat wave is forecast to peak today in the Northeast, after 10 people died from one in the Northwest last month
- Senators from both parties are working together to close loopholes in the Electoral Count Act that former President Trump and his allies tried to exploit to reverse the 2020 election results
- and, on a vote of 95-1, they approved the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO, showing that Senators can work together if they see it is in their better interest
Rather than giving Sinema the power to reduce this legislation, everyone from the President down to your grandmother should focus on bending the ears of Republican Senators to vote for the better interest of their constituents. Five are stepping down anyway, so may be willing to break from the party line to end on a high note.
Those still running are:
- Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has shown independence in the past
- John Boozman of Arkansas
- Marco Rubio of Florida, who is facing a strong Democratic challenger in Val Demings
- Mike Crapo of Idaho
- Todd Young of Indiana
- Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is facing a tough race against Abby Finkenauer
- Jerry Moran of Kansas, the state where voters just showed strong opposition to Republican incursions into their private lives
- Rand Paul of Kentucky, where lack of regulation and increasing climate change has led to recent devastation from flooding
- John Kennedy of Louisiana, another state facing economic and physical depredation from climate change
- John Hoeven of North Dakota, close to Canada where people have proper medical care and have had significantly fewer hospitalizations and deaths from Covid
- James Lankford of Oklahoma
- Tim Scott of South Carolina
- John Thune of South Dakota
- Mike Lee of Utah
- Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who faces a strong progressive Democratic candidate in Mandela Barnes
Richard Shelby of Alabama, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are the Republicans who have chosen to not run, have little need to appease the party hierarchy, and may seize this opportunity to cement a legacy of being a good guy for their constituents.
In many rural and conservative areas, predatory corporations such as Cargill have siphoned off money from farmers, as Amazon has from consumers.
Anger at the uber-wealthy, especially hedge fund managers and greedy corporations that have profited tremendously from the supply chain problems created by the pandemic, continues to grow – make use of it.
If you know people in any of the above states, call them or text them to reach out to their Senators and point out the once-in-a-lifetime benefits of voting in their constituents’ interest.
(Liz Amsden is a contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)