John Avlon has once again presented his own version of reality on Friday’s “Reality Check” segment on CNN’s New Day. As tensions have risen within the Democratic Party due to infighting over the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure and $3.5 trillion entitlement bills, the leftist media have predictably demanded that outlying Democrats get in line to push through President Biden’s costly radical agenda.
Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) particularly are under scrutiny from the left-wing media for their refusal to support the bill. Just Thursday, Manchin revealed that he had previously signed an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that established Manchin’s topline price tag for the second bill as $1.5 trillion. Sinema has attended several meetings at the White House in the past week, presumably to negotiate a compromise with President Biden. However, neither of the lawmakers are far enough left for CNN.
“An entire party's agenda is hanging in the balance,” complained Avlon, referencing a quip by Sinema given to a reporter Thursday as evidence that she wasn’t taking negotiations seriously. He then pointed to Sinema’s past record of promoting liberal policies:
Modernizing the power grid while pushing towards Biden's goal of an 80 percent clean power by 2030 -- yeah, it ought to appeal to her. Likewise, the strengthening of the social safety net in the form of permanent child tax credits, universal pre-K, free community college, paid family and medical leave would seem tailor-made for Kyrsten Sinema, at least judging by her past policy priorities. After all, this is the same person who co-sponsored two family leave bills that have languished in the Senate, proclaiming that too many parents are forced to choose between losing time with a new child or taking on debt to make up for lost wages. Guess what? There is a budget plan that would solve that problem.
For a clearly worried Avlon, past support for clean energy and the social safety net doesn’t necessarily guarantee wholehearted support for an ultra-liberal bill that would mean $3.5 trillion in government spending. At this point, Sinema has kept the media largely in the dark about her expectations and demands for the bill; however, she has come under fire from the left in the past due to her refusal to cave to the most extreme voices in the Democratic Party.
Turning to Manchin, Avlon said “he's a deficit hawk who represents coal country. News flash.”
To conclude the segment, Avlon desperately urged Democrats to come together to support Biden’s agenda: “To have a prayer of staying in power, Democrats are going to need to win more swing states and swing districts…as negotiations begin again today, it's really time for some constructive compromise…Failure is just not an option.”
Unfortunately for the Democrats and the liberal media, Manchin and Sinema don’t show any signs of budging, but that won’t stop CNN from attacking them for not falling in line.
This CNN segment was sponsored in part by Tractor Supply Co and Uber.
Read the full transcript of this segment by clicking Expand below.
JOHN BERMAN: All right, let's go and talk about the Democrats now, exclusively. What about the two lawmakers – senators, who are holding much of the Democratic agenda -- the other Democrats' agenda, effectively, hostage. John Avlon with a reality check.
JOHN AVLON: One of the rules of politics is that you don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. And that's something that centrists often understand better than their more ideological allies. But senators Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema have been straining patience on Capitol Hill with their drawn-out negotiations. Despite ornate courting rituals with the White House, it's been unclear where they stand on a number of topline issues -- specific priorities within the proposed $3.5 trillion Biden budget.
Senator Sinema didn't help with quips like this. When asked by a reporter about Senate progressives who are frustrated that they don't know where you are on the budget bill, Sinema replied, "I'm clearly right in front of the elevator." It's a funny line. The Marx brothers might applaud. But when an entire party's agenda is hanging in the balance, it also reads a bit callous. Here's the thing. While Sinema hails from the battleground state of Arizona, she also has a long history of supporting policies just like ones being offered in the budget bill. After all, she's a former Green Party volunteer who worked on Ralph Nader's disastrous 2000 presidential campaign, which seemed geared towards people who didn't think Al Gore was serious enough about the environment.
And if that's a major motivating issue for her -- well, the budget bill -- $150 billion in grants for electric companies that provide clean energy. It's billions for electric vehicle infrastructure. Modernizing the power grid while pushing towards Biden's goal of an 80 percent clean power by 2030 -- yeah, it ought to appeal to her. Likewise, the strengthening of the social safety net in the form of permanent child tax credits, universal pre-K, free community college, paid family and medical leave would seem tailor-made for Kyrsten Sinema, at least judging by her past policy priorities. After all, this is the same person who co-sponsored two family leave bills that have languished in the Senate, proclaiming that too many parents are forced to choose between losing time with a new child or taking on debt to make up for lost wages. Guess what? There is a budget plan that would solve that problem. So where are the sticking points that have led to this last-minute brinksmanship? Well, the Sphinx of Phoenix isn't talking. But social media sleuths had a field day surfacing tweets that show some of her past progressive demands don't match her current positions.
Now, West Virginia's Joe Manchin has at least been more consistent. He's never been a liberal, as he reminded reporters yesterday. As the sole Democrat in his state's congressional delegation, Manchin's been clear that he'd like to cut $2 trillion from the proposed budget, which is quite the flex. In fact, we learned yesterday, courtesy of Politico, that Manchin did offer a detailed outline of his bottom line to Senate Majority Leader Schumer this past July. Basically, it reveals he's a deficit hawk who represents coal country -- news flash. But he said he wants to raise the top tax rate and the carried interest loophole, and have a 15 percent domestic corporate minimum income tax. Manchin's demand that new benefits be means-tested isn't unreasonable. And he's been an advocate for paid family leave. So that offers some common ground as well. But what a lot of folks are confused about is how his call for up to $4 trillion in infrastructure spending just this past January got somehow whittled down to one-quarter of that number during the last round of negotiations where he was, again, a key holdout.
Look, it takes both wings of a party to fly -- and nationally, Democrats are evenly divided between self-identified liberals and moderates. But to have a prayer of staying in power, Democrats are going to need to win more swing states and swing districts. Progressives are understandably frustrated. These two centrist centers have held out for so long, trust has been strained. But as negotiations begin again today, it's really time for some constructive compromise. As Democratic mandarin John Podesta warned, you're either going to get both bills or neither, and the prospect of neither is unconscionable. Failure is just not an option. And that's your reality check.