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Columnist Kathleen Parker recently opined about two politicians: Sens. Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders.

According to Parker, Manchin is a hero. His refusal to support bills promoted by President Biden proves he has “enormous courage.”

He’s against a $15 minimum wage and a 28% corporate tax rate as proposed in Biden’s infrastructure bill. He says he can’t vote for something unless he can go back to his constituents and explain it.

According to two recent polls, 62% of registered voters support raising minimum wage to $15 by 2025 and 65% of registered voters support Biden’s 28% corporate tax rate in his infrastructure bill.

According to Manchin, the Jan. 6 insurrection persuaded the senator to hold firm in his conviction of bipartisan agreement on legislation.

I don’t believe him.

Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, earned over $16 million in 2019 as CEO of Mylan, a pharmaceutical company. Bresch was called out in 2016 for raising the price of Mylan’s life-saving EpiPens by 500%.

At the time, Manchin defended his daughter, but now he can’t explain to West Virginians that they deserve a $15 minimum wage?

In December 2020, Gallup found 82% of Americans disapproved of “the way Congress is handling its job.” Powerful corporations spend billions on politicians and lobbyists to influence the laws that are passed. They get the laws they want: Executives make millions, hide it in off-shore tax shelters and avoid corporate taxes through “loopholes” while the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour; infrastructure, schools, and the environment are ignored.

Then Kathleen Parker tossed out the scare words “socialism” and “far-left ’60s radical” to demonize Sanders. These conservative, fear-mongering tactics have been used to hold on to power for many years.

Socialism is when the government owns the means of production. Sanders supports regulated capitalism.

Sanders has fought for a “living wage” for decades. He’s demanded that corporations be responsible to all their workers, not just the executives, pay their taxes and deal with waste products responsibility. The CEO of a company can legally hire lobbyists to coerce legislators to allow more pollutants in the water, air and soil. That’s why many West Virginia communities have undrinkable water.

An environmental study in 2019 found more than half of West Virginia counties rank among the worst in the nation for violations of a federal law that protects the quality of drinking water in the U.S.

Sanders believes the rich should be more heavily taxed (did Bresch need all $16 million?) and the money be used to improve our country: better schools, cleaner water, safer bridges and quality health care for everyone. Sanders has fought against tax loopholes for corporations and off-shore tax havens for the wealthy. He does not take donations from powerful corporations and because of this he has been reviled, hated and lied about.

The vast majority of politicians are influenced by the money they receive from their donors and the lobbyists that wine and dine them. When you write laws that harm your constituents but benefit your donors, that’s called corruption. It’s legal in the United States because Congress writes the laws.

Our own Sen. Joe Manchin with “enormous courage” is making sure West Virginians don’t get a $15 minimum wage, and he’s carefully monitoring the tax rate for corporations. That’s our hero?

Linda Childers is a resident of Ona.

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