OPINION: Poor Kyrsten Sinema

Sep 28, 2021
1:31 PM

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., leaves a closed-door bipartisan infrastructure meeting with a group of senators and White House aides on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

NOGALES, Arizona — Poor Kyrsten Sinema. She just can’t seem to catch a break, can she?

I mean, sure, she gave a peppy “thumbs-down” to liveable wages, and she even brought cake with her in a fancy LuLuLemon bag while she was at it. She’s also held firm against ending the filibuster, guaranteeing GOP obstruction for the foreseeable future. The same filibuster the GOP is using at this exact moment to threaten a government shutdown, which will hurt American families with federal jobs, and even those who depend on Social Security to survive. I guess that might make some people upset.

But guys, you’re forgetting she’s white and quirky. That should make up for all the other things, right?

There’s a lot of buzz going around about the Biden administration’s budget plans and whether or not a pathway to citizenship will be included in that. There’s another item in question on the budget that could quite literally save lives if approved. It’s a measure that will reduce the prices of lifesaving medications for many Americans struggling to afford essentials for survival by giving Medicare the authority to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

If you’ve followed Sinema’s track record, you might already be able to see where this is heading. The senator claims to want to build bridges across the aisle to find bipartisan solutions, but she’s starting to seem more like a corporate tool planted in the Senate. This was evident in her opposition to raising the minimum wage and even more apparent now.

You see, it turns out the quirky, white liberal is actually opposed to the measure that will lower prescription costs. Even more upsetting is the fact that she’s a “Pharma Favorite,” having received around $750,000 in campaign donations from Big Pharma and medical device manufacturers, $120,000 of which came directly from the pharmaceutical industry in 2019-2020. This is particularly upsetting to some who believed her during the 2018 election, when she said she was going to fight to reduce prescription drug prices.

Like I said before, if you’ve followed Sinema’s track record, this is hardly surprising. There was a lot of hype following the 2020 election that with VP Kamala Harris, Democrats finally had the majority in the House and the Senate, but thanks to Senators Sinema and Joe Manchin, no real legislation has been able to get through, and the obstructionist GOP seems to have maintained their hold on American politics.

There may still be hope, though admittedly not much. The budget is still in negotiations and there’s always a chance that opinions can change. So let’s take a moment to address Senator Sinema directly, and explain why it would be a good idea for her to cease and desist in her opposition of the prescription drug measure, and follow through on the promises she made to her constituents.

  1. People Want This: According to a poll done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 88% of adults believe that giving the government the authority to negotiate drug prices would dramatically lower the cost of life-saving prescriptions. Your voters like the idea, Senator. You should listen to them.
  2. Your Constituents Need This: In 2020, more than 1.35 million Arizona residents had Medicare. That’s almost 19% of the state’s population. These are voting adults who can easily sway your next election. Legislation that lowers the cost of their medication is not only in their best interest, but also in yours.
  3. You Promised: I’m not naive. I know campaign promises mean very little on Capitol Hill. But, you campaigned on this platform specifically. You told us you would fight to reduce drug prices and now that you have the very real opportunity to do exactly that, you’re opposing it. What the hell?!
  4. You Need the Points People in your state are really starting to not like you. They showed up at the polls for you in 2018. You beat out Martha McSally because Arizona voters believed in the dream you were selling them. And don’t give me that “Better me than a Republican” line. Do you want to test that theory? Arizona is barely purple and can flip back to red on a dime.
  5. Ethics: Again, I’m not naive. I know there’s little room for ethics in politics. Politicians are generally vipers financed by multi-billion dollar corporations to further their own agendas. Ethics doesn’t really have a place in that world. But Big Pharma? Really? When Americans think about corporate, Bond-level villains, Big Pharma is at the top of that list. Banks, Big Oil, and Big Tech are two-bit crooks compared to Big Pharma. Why would you, as a quirky, white liberal politician with a vision to make America more progressive, get into bed with Big Pharma? Unless, of course, you’re just another viper operating in your own self-interest.
  6. It’ll Save Money (Like a Lot of Money): Including this in the budget is fiscally responsible. According to a report done by the House of Representatives in 2019, this measure is projected to save approximately $500 billion over the next 10 years if included in the budget. Footing the bill for these savings would be the pharmaceutical companies themselves. Don’t worry, they can afford it. Big Pharma rakes in around $1.3 trillion a year. That’s $13 trillion over the next decade—if there isn’t any growth, that is, but there’s always growth. The projected $500 billion bill is less than 1% of that. Big Pharma will be just fine. But with rising prescription costs, if you don’t get this passed in the 2022 budget, 1.3 million Arizonans and even more Americans might not be fine at all.

It’s really no surprise that you’re opposed to this, though, considering that they’ve given you $750,000. But, check this out, $750,000 is only 0.00015% of $500 billion and the most minuscule fraction of a percentage of their annual 1.3 trillion. You don’t owe them anything. You certainly don’t owe them a vote as vital and historic as this.

Do you know who you do owe, though? You owe your constituents. They voted for you and they didn’t have to. They put you in office, and at the rate, you’re going, I don’t think they’ll have any problem taking you out again in 2024.


Joseph Paul Wright is a freelance journalist based in Nogales, Arizona. He tweets from @joewrightwrites.