Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tacitly confirmed reports that have long circulated regarding moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) opposition to raising corporate tax rates.
Though her colleague Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) has controlled headlines for months, Sinema has joined with Manchin on a number of key issues. Because of the Democrats’ razor-thin one-vote majority in the upper chamber, Democratic leadership cannot spare a single defection; But Sinema, like Manchin, has broken with the party on a laundry list of issues.
Yet Sinema, as has been her tendency, has been unwilling to give her opinion on various issues to the press. A spokesman for Sinema summed up this attitude, telling reporters that “we do not negotiate through the press.”
Even some congressmen have been in the dark on Sinema’s position. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) admitted to reporters “I have no sense of what Sinema wants.”
This uncertainty has led to some frustration among Democrats.
At a press conference, Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) demanded that moderate holdouts give clear answers about what they want and do not want in the final package.
President Joe Biden also expressed frustration. “I was able to close the deal with 99 [percent] of my party,” Biden said during a press conference. “Two. Two people.”
Given Sinema’s importance to Democratic aspirations, reports have still trickled out about the senator’s position on various issues.
One such issue has been taxation.
A report from the New York Times claimed that Sinema had told colleagues that she would not support her party’s reconciliation bill if it raised corporate or income tax rates. As is her wont, Sinema did not comment on these reports publicly.
But at her weekly press conference, Pelosi finally gave a tacit confirmation to these rumors. Asked about Sinema’s rejection of increased tax rates, Pelosi said only that “[Sinema’s] committed position is well known.”
Since the introduction of the budget resolution in the Senate, Democratic proponents of the bill have assured skeptics that the legislation would be completely paid for by increasing taxation on the wealthy and corporations after congressional Republicans used their majority during President Donald Trump’s term to significantly cut these rates.
In 2017, Republicans used the reconciliation process—the same filibuster-proof process that Democrats are using now—to pass the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. The legislation lowered the corporate tax rate from its previous 35 percent flat rate to a substantially lower 21 percent flat rate.
The bill, which critics nicknamed the “GOP tax scam,” has frustrated Democrats since the bill was first passed. Now that Democrats are in the majority, the party is trying to abandon the flat corporate tax rate altogether in favor of a marginal tax rate, the same scheme used by the IRS to collect income taxes.
Democrats’ proposal adjusts the tax rate to 18 percent on the first $400,000 of income, 21 percent on income up to $5 million, and 26.5 percent on all income after $5 million.
Sinema’s opposition to these increases could put Democrats’ “paid for” promise in jeopardy.
But Pelosi insisted that she was not concerned about this. Asked whether the bill could be entirely paid for if tax rates were not increased, she assured that “the bill will be fully paid for.”
Sinema and other moderates have been in constant negotiations with the White House. Because these meetings are closed-door affairs, it is not clear whether Sinema has offered a compromise or if the senator has relaxed her demands on taxation.
In the past, Sinema has broken with her party over a slew of other issues.
In August, Sinema told the press through a spokesman that she would not support any budget reconciliation bill costing $3.5 trillion, a position held by Manchin as well. Despite efforts by the White House to sway the two moderates, they have persisted in their opposition to such a high price tag on the bill.
This has forced Democrats including Pelosi and Biden to hesitantly admit that $3.5 trillion will not be possible.
Sinema’s rejection of Democrats’ taxing plan could throw another wrench into her party’s plans, forcing them to whittle down the bill even further to meet their commitment to a fully paid-for bill.
Sanders blasted Sinema’s positions, telling reporters “I’m surprised there is anyone in the U.S. Senate not prepared to do what the people want, and that is to demand that the wealthiest people in this country start paying their fair share of taxes.”
The Epoch Times contacted Sinema’s office for comment.