For all of Manchin’s Democratic Party apostasy, he has regularly sided with the party’s attempts to raise taxes on corporations and the rich. He opposed the Trump tax cut of 2017, and he has said he supports substantial tax increases as part of Biden’s agenda (even if he does not want to go as far as Biden does).
If Democrats had to worry only about Manchin and not Sinema, they might be able to raise taxes on top incomes, investments and corporations. “You all know, the entire country knows, that I’m opposed to raising the corporate minimum tax rate,” Sinema said at a recent event hosted by business lobbyists in Arizona.
As a result, a compromise proposal that the White House released in October, with at least tentative support from Sinema, dropped the major tax increases on which Biden campaigned. In their place, the proposal included a collection of smaller tax increases, like a 5 percent surcharge on household income above $10 million. Sinema is also more hostile to some forms of corporate regulation than Manchin is.
In the long term, Sinema’s 1990s-style moderation arguably creates bigger problems for the Democratic Party than Manchin’s policy views do. Taxes on the wealthy and corporations are historically low, and raising them is central to paying for Democratic plans for expanding social programs, reducing inequality and lowering the budget deficit.
Sinema’s approach is particularly vexing to many Democrats because a more populist, progressive Democrat could probably win Arizona too, as Matthew Yglesias of Substack has pointed out. Arizona’s other senator, Mark Kelly, is also a Democrat and has largely supported Biden’s agenda — which, polls show, is popular in the state and nationwide.
Manchin, by contrast, represents West Virginia, a state that Biden lost by nearly 39 percentage points. If Manchin didn’t defy his party, a Republican would probably hold his Senate seat. His prominent opposition to the bill has helped his approval rating soar in West Virginia, Morning Consult reported this week.
… and Manchin’s
Despite all this, many Democrats are more frustrated now with Manchin than with Sinema. She is at least willing to negotiate in consistent ways, they say. Manchin seems to have changed his position multiple times over the past several months.