Within the electric vehicle world in recent months, there’s been all kinds of debate and handwringing about how the big EV tax credits or rebates that are included in expected Democratic legislation in Congress should be structured — how much should union-built EVs versus American-built EVs versus just simply built EVs get in subsidies? There’s also been excitement about billions of dollars for EV charging ($7.5 billion in the infrastructure bill that’s been lingering for several months). Furthermore, there’s support for solar power and other clean energy technologies in the infrastructure and reconciliation bills that we’ve been patiently (and impatiently) waiting for the US Congress to pass. There’s one problem, though: all of this legislation might die. Also, as crazy as it is, it might all die because of one senator who was actually once a member of the Green Party but is now seemingly not even a Democrat on this stuff.
First of all, I already wrote about the problem of Joe Manchin. Indeed, he’s a coal man and a total corporate servant who won’t fight for the American people, and certainly not for the relatively poor people of West Virginia. While he’s still clearly a problem, he has a long history of coming around at the last minute, and other Democratic politicians in the US Congress have argued that he’d come through again when needed … if only someone could get Senator Kyrsten Sinema on board. The problem is: no one seems to know how to get her on board, and there’s suspicion that, at the end of the day, she has no desire to get on board. There’s concern (quickly turning into rage) that she has gone 100% to the dark side and simply will not vote for legislation to strongly expand climate solutions and a better social safety net in the US.
Oddly, Sinema grew up extremely poor, homeless at times, and as already noted, was once a member of the Green Party in Arizona. The bisexual atheist, however, has flipped so far from those roots that she might be a good candidate for the US women’s gymnastics team. There are a couple of possibilities of what happened. She might have sat in the Arizona sun for far too long and fried her brain, or she might have just discovered it’s comfy quickly becoming a millionaire and taking money from billionaires and large corporations to do nothing. The latter is the more likely scenario, and Will Bunch of The Philadelphia Inquirer has written an absolutely scathing and brilliant piece on what he thinks has happened. The title of his frustrated examination of Kyrsten Cinema and US politics as a whole is “The trainwreck of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is the cost of not getting money out of politics.” The subtitle is: “An Arizona Democrat’s unfathomable opposition to progress is a win for her hedge-fund, Big Pharma donors, and a huge loss for democracy.”
Sinema has been raising a lot of money from large pharmaceutical companies and certain billionaires in that arena, and now the payback seems clear: block Congress from doing anything.
“Sinema’s opaque obstructionism has become the grapes of wrath for President Biden and their fellow Democrats seeking to invest $350 billion a year to continue child tax credits for the middle class, expand child care, fight climate change and offer free community college,” Bunch writes. “The plan is foundering largely because of vague but obstinate opposition from Sinema and her money-soaked doppelganger Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, when Democrats need all 50 of their senators onboard. Advocates believe the real problem is how Biden and his allies want to pay for this: Largely by raising taxes on Sinema’s filthy rich patrons such as Price and Gates.”
It’s wild to see that Sinema has the power to block essentially all of President Joe Biden’s/Democrats’ agenda, all serious Democratic legislation. It’s crazy that she can pander to corporations and the wealthiest among the wealthy while ignoring the challenges and needs of our climate, our working class and poor, and our democracy. But that’s where we are. On the cleantech front alone, we may never get the EV tax credits, EV rebates, EV charging infrastructure, and solar power subsidies that we’ve been hoping for all week, month, and year. That’ll hurt.
Featured photo by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0 license)
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