Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema arrives for a hearing

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) arrives for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee markup in the Dirksen Building on Wednesday on June 16, 2021. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

'Carrying Water for Big Corporations': Sinema Faces Backlash for Opposing Tax Hikes

"Make no mistake, if she sides with her wealthy donors and kills popular investments to jump-start the economy, everyday families—including across Arizona—will pay the price."

Jake Johnson

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has reportedly told her Democratic colleagues that she will not support any tax hikes on corporations or wealthy individuals, a stance that could derail the party's plan to fund its sprawling safety net and climate package.

"The right-wing Dems are carrying water for big corporations and billionaires who don't want their taxes to go up."

According to the New York Times, Sinema's "resistance to tax rate increases" that Democrats have proposed to finance their reconciliation bill "has set off a scramble for alternatives, including a carbon tax, international corporate tax changes, and closing loopholes for businesses that pay through the individual income tax system."

Democrats can't afford a single defection in the Senate, a dynamic that gives Sinema and other right-wing lawmakers significant leverage over the reconciliation bill, which is a centerpiece of President Joe Biden's domestic policy agenda. On top of opposing tax hikes, Sinema has also said she won't support a package that includes $3.5 trillion in spending over the next decade, a price tag that progressive lawmakers have characterized as a bare minimum.

"This gives away what is really going on in Congress," Robert Cruickshank, campaign director at the advocacy group Demand Progress, said in response to Sinema's posturing. "The right-wing Dems are carrying water for big corporations and billionaires who don't want their taxes to go up."

The government watchdog group Accountable.US estimates that Sinema has received at least $923,000 in donations from industry lobbying groups that are currently working to kill or water down Democrats' reconciliation package, which has been dubbed the Build Back Better Act. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its leadership boards have donated $448,000 to the Arizona Democrat, Accountable.US found.

"Super-rich corporations have given Senator Sinema nearly a million reasons to vote against making them pay their fair share in taxes," Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said in a statement. "Make no mistake, if she sides with her wealthy donors and kills popular investments to jump-start the economy, everyday families—including across Arizona—will pay the price."

It's not clear whether Sinema would be willing to tank the entire reconciliation package over Democrats' proposed tax increases, which would partially or completely reverse elements of the GOP's deeply unpopular 2017 tax law. Sinema voted against the Republican tax cuts.

According to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, House Democrats' proposal to fund the Build Back Better Act "would result in a tax cut for the average taxpayer in all income groups except the richest 5%."

On Friday, Biden expressed confidence that congressional Democrats will ultimately approve enough revenue raisers to "pay for" the entire reconciliation package, which is expected to include major investments in green energy, child care, housing, Medicare expansion, and more.

"It is zero price tag on the debt we're paying," the president said in remarks from the State Dining Room of the White House. "We're going to pay for everything we spend."

ITEP graphic

Sinema's opposition to her party's tax plan was reported as progressive and conservative Democrats continued to fight over the top-line price tag and the specific details of the emerging reconciliation package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Saturday that she intends to bring to the floor and pass both the Build Back Better Act and a $550 billion partisan infrastructure bill—which Sinema helped author—within the next week.

"The initiatives of the Build Back Better Act are ones in which President Biden takes a great pride, which House and Senate Democrats share," Pelosi wrote in a "Dear Colleague" letter. "Build Back Better will cut taxes for the middle class, create more jobs, lower costs for working families, and make sure the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share."

Last month, Pelosi vowed to bring the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor for a vote by September 27. But progressives are threatening to vote down the bipartisan bill if it comes up before Congress approves the reconciliation package, which likely won't be finished by Monday.

Progressives fear that passing the bipartisan bill first would free conservative Democrats to tank or dramatically pare back the reconciliation package.

In an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)—chair of the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus—said that "the votes aren't there" to pass the bipartisan bill before the reconciliation process is complete.

"Ultimately, we're delivering on the president's agenda," Jayapal said. "The Build Back Better agenda is not some crazy agenda that just a few people support. It's actually the vast majority of the Democratic caucus, and there's a few people in the House and a couple in the Senate who aren't quite there yet. But even moderates in frontline districts all support this Build Back Better agenda."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

To 'Step Back From the Edge of Recession,' UN Urges Central Banks to Stop Rate Hikes

The UNCTAD chief warns that "the current course of action is hurting the most vulnerable, especially in developing countries, and risks tipping the world into a global recession."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Their Greed Knows No Bounds': Analysis Shows Ongoing Price Gouging by Oil Giants

"Big Oil is boasting record profits and dragging their feet to pass any lower costs onto consumers in order to keep padding investors' pockets," said Accountable.US.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Doing This for My Son': UK Climate Activist Gives Interview While Handcuffed, Hauled Off by Cops

"The government's inaction on climate change is a death sentence to us all," the Just Stop Oil protester said.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Dr. Oz Is a Puppy Killer': Fetterman Campaign Responds to Reporting on Animal Testing

"This is who Dr. Oz is: unconscionable and a danger to others," said Fetterman's wife, activist Gisele Barreto Fetterman.

Julia Conley ·


'We Must Not Stand By': Amnesty Urges State Leaders to Ban Guns Near Polling Places

"Governors and secretaries of state must do everything in their power to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers this November."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo