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Follow the Money

How are we to understand Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema? “It’s all about the money, man,” is the usual explanation of politics by the guys on the corner. “Follow the money,” said Deepthroat in the Watergate scandal.

History often supports these sage sources. So, it might be wise to “follow the money” and see what that tells us about Senators Manchin and Sinema. This piece will be an attempt to suggest how money might be operative in their strange behavior.

Mind you. I am leaving the analysis of Manchin’s endless flip-flops and irrational propositions to my psychologist friends–proposals like working with Republicans who could buy into President Biden’s agenda. And these psychologists will need to analyze Sinema’s strange dress for a senator and her bewildering radical switching in political ideologies. One headline about Sinema proclaimed, “From Radical Activist to Senate Obstructionist.”

About the money. Well, there is plenty of it. Senator Manchin has made millions from the coal industry. He made between $591,950 and nearly $1.5 million in 2020 from a coal brokerage company he founded in West Virginia. Between 2011 and 2020, the Senator made between $4.9 million and $5.1 million from coal companies.

According to our sage sources, this money should tell us all we need to know about Manchin’s objections to the strongest provision in the Reconciliation Bill, The Clean Electricity Performance Program.

But there is more. Manchin is getting plenty of support for his opposition to effectively addressing environmental issues. Last July, a group of primarily Republican donors hosted a fundraiser in Texas for Manchin, a Democrat. The event’s hosts included executives of Texas-based oil and gas companies.

Recently, Republican billionaire Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, announced that he would hold a massive fundraiser for Manchin. “I’m going to have one of the biggest fundraisers I’ve ever had for him. He’s special. He’s precious. He’s a great American,” proclaimed Langone.

Another billionaire openly supporting Manchin is Nelson Peltz, owner of an investment firm, who told CNBC in October that he talks to Manchin every week and supports how “he is handling his work on Capitol hill.”

In her peculiar way, Senator Sinema does not readily reveal her positions. However, she joins Senator Manchin in opposing tax hikes for corporations and income tax increases for the wealthy. Consequently, she is also supported by the corporations and the wealthy.

Sinema’s campaign raised $1.1 million during the third quarter of 2021. Her contributors included names prominent in Republican fundraising circles.

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She is supported by Stan Hubbard, CEO of Hubbard broadcasting; Jimmy Haslam, head of the Pilot truck stop chain and owner of the Cleveland Browns; Marc Rowan, CEO of the private equity giant Apollo; and Anthony De Nicola, a private equity fund executive. Each of these donors is a heavy funder of GOP PACs and funds.

Sinema received strong support throughout her last fundraising quarter from executives and lobbyists with close ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Our “follow the money” approach would lead us to believe that Big Pharma’s dollars are significant factors in Senator Sinema’s opposition to drug pricing reform in the Reconciliation Bill. One proposed provision would allow the federal government to negotiate the price of drugs for Medicare recipients. But with Sinema, it’s a no-go. By the way, the U.S. is the only major country that does not negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Politico reported that 90 percent of the money Sinema raised this summer came from donors who are not her constituents, which should explain why she is not responsive to her members.

We learned long ago that he who pays the piper calls the tune. Unfortunately, that is obviously the case for Senators Manchin and Sinema.

Speaking directly to Senator Sinema, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) argued that a Congressperson did not have to put corporate lobbyists over people to legislate, fundraise, and win. AOC showed she had raised more campaign funds than Sinema and had won her election.

AOC spoke for me when she added, “It’s insulting to tell everyday people who worked tirelessly for a majority that they must suffer insane drug prices, no voting rights, and climate disaster for political convenience.”

 

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