Kyrsten Sinema doesn’t deserve to bear the full brunt of killing the $15 minimum wage. After all, 7 other Democrats and one Independent voted down Bernie Sanders’s last-ditch effort to have it included in the COVID-19 relief bill. But, Sinema’s arrogant and ostentatious thumbs-down vote combined with her bringing a cake for Senate staff made her a valid target for criticism, mockery, and “memeification.”
Yet, the “let them eat cake” approach taken by Sinema is one of the best modern illustrations of how little most elected officials actually care about their constituents. This pandemic highlighted exactly how warped the priorities and mentalities are of the people in D.C. that “represent” us. It is absolutely sociopathic that billion-dollar industries were given immediate bailouts at the start of the pandemic, while the people of this country were forced to endure endless debate and horsetrading just receive, at most, a whopping $1,800 over the course of a single year.
Let’s be clear that the $15 minimum wage is NOT a living wage. The minimum wage would be around $24 if it had been indexed to inflation. As such, $15 was, from the very beginning, a compromise. Nevertheless, it was a compromise that Joe Biden pledged support for and promised to enact if elected. It was one of the only planks of Bernie Sanders’s platform that Biden incorporated into his own. When the Senate Parlementarian disqualified the inclusion of the $15 minimum wage in the relief bill, Kamala Harris had the opportunity to be a hero and override the ruling. By not doing so, she affirmed the suspicion held by leftists that Biden was never serious about his promise in the first place. When was the last time Republicans gave up on anything because of “procedure”?
There is a “nuclear option” that has been floated online that involves the progressive Democrats in the House starting the whole process over by voting down the Senate’s version of the relief bill, but even if there were no consequences for doing so, it’s doubtful that would convince the 8 “nays” to change their mind. They still have to keep their corporate donors happy, after all.
The current upper chamber of congress might as well be called “Schrodinger’s Senate”: the Democrats control the Senate, but they are not “in control”. Because the Senate is split 50-50, the Senate Democrats who have the most power are those who are the least aligned with the Democratic Party platform. Conservative Dems like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin will continue to undermine any genuine reforms that might otherwise be achieved. Combined with Biden’s refusal to push back, the opposition script for the Republicans seems to be well in the making. And it’s a script they’ve used many times: the Democrats can’t get anything done.
Even though Republicans would abolish the minimum wage if given the chance, this $15 disaster will come back to bite Democrats in 2022.
The only question is: how hard?
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