By Editorial Board
Many Arizona Democrats today are furious at U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema because she will not damn the torpedoes and work to ram through the entire whopping spending wish list of her party.
Like her mentor John McCain, she has sought more modest proposals that can win the support of moderate Democrats and Republicans and create a more sturdy national consensus.
For this she is routinely vilified on the left, depicted as Marie Antoinette who steps all over the poor and the voting rights of minorities. To know Sinema and her long record is to know these are slanders.
She has not only defied her fire-breathing critics, but has cheekily provoked their fury with thumbs-down and curtsies and ring fingers that tell them what they can do with themselves.
They in turn believe she is arrogant and out of touch.
Sinema has emerged as a powerful player
But given the developments of this week, perhaps it’s time for the fire-breathers to reconsider that maybe, just maybe, the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona in 30 years actually knows what she is doing.
In only her third year in the Senate, Sinema has made herself one of the most powerful and consequential players in Washington, there at the center of the most important debate in the country – deciding the contours of the federal blueprint that will take us beyond the pandemic.
Sinema was a primary leader of a group of 10 Democrats and Republicans who announced on Wednesday they had reached an agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
If it passes, the bill would plow a trillion dollars into the vital infrastructure that has been crumbling in this nation – roads, bridges, railways, ports, public transit, water works while including big investments in broadband internet and a national network of electric vehicle charging stations.
She has good reason to pause at price tag
It was probably no accident that on the same day the agreement was announced, Sinema said she would not be all in on the massive $3.5 trillion budget resolution that Democrats want to pass in tandem with the infrastructure bill.
Taken together, the bills would amount to some of the largest spending in U.S. history. And some Democrat economists, such as Lawrence Summers, have been warning that piling on such massive levels of spending after the trillions spent in the pandemic will stoke inflation.
Summers first sounded that alarm before Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, and since then inflation has surged. The message should be clear. Congressional Democrats need to trim their sails.
Of course the brash far-left doesn’t agree
Because Sinema is unmistakably a player in this debate, she drew the fire of the leader of the young progressives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted this at her:
“Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin – especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a “bipartisan accomplishment.”
Ocasio-Cortez can crassly play the race card against fellow Democrats, yet again, but it is Sinema, not her, who enjoys the support of people in high places in the Democratic Party.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that news of the bipartisan deal “sparked jubilation at the White House.”
Sinema has a kindred spirit in Joe Biden
President Joe Biden tweeted out:
“We’ve reached a historic deal on infrastructure, folks. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is the largest infrastructure bill in a century. It will grow the economy, create good-paying jobs, and set America on a path to win the future.”
Only a week ago, Joe Biden gave Sinema cover on the legislative filibuster. She had drawn fire from angry Democrats because she refuses to blow it up and allow the party to use its razor thin governing majority to push through anything it wants in the U.S. Senate.
Biden told CNN’s Don Lemon last week, “There’s no reason to protect [the filibuster] other than you’re going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Nothing at all will get done. And there’s a lot at stake.”
Maybe, just maybe, she knows something
Sinema has made it no secret that she is modeling herself after the maverick John McCain, who refused to demonize the opposition party and worked to reach bipartisan agreements that tried to bring the country together.
McCain became not only an important national figure, but also a global figure. These are large shoes to fill.
So it is truly remarkable that already Sinema occupies the stage as a serious leader among Democrats trying to unite the country.
Give her some credit. Perhaps she knows something:
That the biggest problem in this nation isn’t too little spending on social programs and infrastructure. It’s the deep divisions that poison our civic culture.
She’s been telling us she’s a true moderate
She understood the problem for a long time. A dozen years ago she wrote the book “Unite and Conquer” that foreshadowed and decried the identity politics that would consume the country.
She didn’t hide the fact that she was a centrist. She ran as one, promising to work for all Arizonans, not merely the doctrinaire left that knows no limits on spending and cares nothing for consensus.
She is doing what more moderate Democrats want — increasing the investment in national priorities while bringing Republicans onboard. That takes hard work and is bearing fruit.
For the Our Way or the Highway Democrats who still don’t like it, we suggest you take it up with a higher authority.
President Joe Biden.