During an interview on MSNBC Sunday evening, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democratic Party, indicated he would be open to going to centrist Democrats’ jurisdictions in order to create grassroots pressure campaigns to get said lawmakers on board with progressive legislation and ideas.
Speaking specifically about centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Sanders said he had no qualms with going to that senator’s home state in order to showcase how the popularity of ideas like Medicare for All and the $15 minimum wage.
“I have no problem with going to West Virginia,” Sanders said, “and I think we need a grassroots movement that makes it clear to Joe Manchin and everybody else in the United States Senate, including Republicans, that the progressive agenda is what the American people want.”
Sanders acknowledged that the progressive wing of the party would probably not “get everything we want” in a number of bills, but stressed he and others would push “as hard as we possibly can” to get those policies supported by centrists like Manchin.
A number of progressive ideas that Sanders has pushed for are indeed supported by most West Virginians. One poll conducted by GBAO research in February, for example, found that nearly two-thirds of residents in the state were supportive of the idea of a $15 an hour minimum wage.
In spite of widespread backing for that idea among his constituents, Manchin has expressed opposition to raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Manchin also pushed against the idea of $2,000 checks in the latest stimulus payment, sought to lower income thresholds that disqualified many Americans from receiving any stimulus at all, and stands staunchly against any legislation that would enact Medicare for All.
Manchin has even expressed reluctance to backing President Joe Biden’s proposal for funding a broad infrastructure plan. The plan would include increases on the corporate tax from 21 percent to 28 percent, which progressives like Sanders contend still isn’t high enough.
“As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed,” Manchin said in a radio interview on Monday. Manchin opposes the corporate tax rate raise, saying that it should be raised to 25 percent instead.
The West Virginia Democrat also brazenly suggested that his opinion mattered more than what progressive Democrats preferred, due to his influence in a deeply divided Senate.
“If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere,” he said.
A majority of Americans are supportive of tax increases being considered for corporations and for those earning more than $400,000 per year in order to help fund Biden’s infrastructure plan, recent polling from Morning Consult has indicated. Fifty-four percent say they back such proposals, and only 27 percent say they don’t support tax increases to fund an infrastructure bill. Only 6 percent said they don’t back any type of infrastructure legislation at all.