Why Sinema and Manchin’s states stand to benefit from 'virtually everything' in Biden’s proposals: conservative

Why Sinema and Manchin’s states stand to benefit from 'virtually everything' in Biden’s proposals: conservative

In the U.S. Senate, the Democratic Party's two greatest obstacles to the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act of 2021 are Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Sinema played a key role in negotiating a $1 trillion infrastructure bill with Senate Republicans, but she has maintained that $3.5 trillion is too high a price tag for the "human infrastructure" bill that Democrats are proposing. Conservative Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin addresses their objections in an October 13 column, arguing that West Virginia and Arizona stand to benefit the most from parts of the Build Back Better plan.

Unlike some of the more liberal or progressive columnists at the Washington Post, Rubin — a Never Trumper and former Republican who supported Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election — hasn't gone out of her way to bash Manchin or Sinema. In fact, she has stressed that the Democratic Party needs centrists. But in her October 13 column, Rubin delves into specific things in the Build Back Better plan that would benefit West Virginia and Arizona — for example, "Medicaid expansion."

"Manchin seems to oppose extending Medicare benefits to cover vision, dental and hearing benefits — among the most popular components of the bill," Rubin observes. "Supermajorities of Democrats and voters in general support this proposal. In Manchin's home state, as of 2020, more than 442,000 West Virginians receive Medicare. In Arizona, the number is about 1.35 million people. So, he wants to swim against the tide of overwhelming public opinion?"

Rubin also discusses the Build Back Better Act's "Medicare drug proposal," noting that it "would allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers."

"This would save money — lots of it," Rubin explains. "The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated, 'CBO estimated over $450 billion in 10-year (2020-2029) savings from the Medicare drug price negotiation provision in the version of HR 3 in the 116th Congress, including $448 billion in savings to Medicare and $12 billion in savings for subsidized plans in the ACA marketplace and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.' If Manchin worries about federal deficits and spending, shouldn't he be out front pushing for this item?"

Rubin goes on to note that although the Build Back Better Act proposes raising taxes on the ultra-rich, "far more West Virginians would get tax relief from the plan." And she sees no reason for Sinema to oppose its green energy proposals.

"While it might make sense for a West Virginia senator to oppose green energy measures — although coal is a declining segment of the state's economy — there is no excuse for Sinema to object to this aspect of the package," Rubin observes. "She has previously supported investment in solar energy — understandable for someone coming from a state that, as the Arizona Capitol Times reports, has experienced 'significant growth in advanced energy jobs, with a recent industry report showing 69,000 jobs in the sector and a growth rate of 3.5%.'"

Rubin continues, "Virtually everything in the Build Back Better plan would aid one or both of the states Manchin and Sinema represent. The package is popular overall, especially with Democrats…. Their opposition is inexplicable."

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