It’s...past the wire for Democrats and their votes on two big spending packages that are the priorities of President Biden. As we recorded this episode Friday morning, the promised day for a House vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill had passed and Democrats were still fighting amongst themselves on both the price tag of the spending bill and what to prioritize between social and climate spending. All eyes are on the Progressive Caucus, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, and they’re watching each other. Where will this end up?
Then, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb talks about the major failures of the pandemic in the United States, why he has lots of feedback for the CDC in particular, and how approaching pandemics like national security threats could serve us better the next time around.
All that, plus the media company that wasn’t, moving the fences back, and some proof that vaccine mandates are effective.
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Bad news can be good news
55:04For Democrats negotiating the Build Back Better plan, bad news is good news: because every disagreement means they’re a step closer to passage. But to get there, they’ll have to combine changes that satisfy both Joe Manchin and many Democrats’ least favorite Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema. What’s driving their motivations to block the bill from passing? Where are the hard asks? Could Sinema just be trying to fill up her campaign coffers by protecting big business interests, and what happens if she gets primaried? We discuss. Next: climate action policies are a major plank of Biden’s agenda and there’s a lot of agreement that it’s needed. Are these the right policies? Will they achieve the benchmarks in the Paris agreement, and Biden’s goals? This bill earmarks lots of money for green infrastructure like electric vehicle charging and renewable-friendly power grid upgrades. But is it too ambitious a plan? Do voters care about an issue whose impacts are so long-term and diffuse? Are climate subsidies the right tool to make the most impact? Joseph Majkut joins the show to analyze the bill and what it could mean for the United States and the rest of the world. Also in this bill: a child care plan, which has been under scrutiny this week. Does it have too many of the same features and pitfalls as the Affordable Care Act? Federal quality requirements add cost – and as with the ACA, many states are likely to be uncooperative in administering this Democrat-designed benefit. Should the government simply give money to families and let them decide how to spend it? And does the plan ignore parents who want to stay at home with their kids? Finally: friendly reminder that vaccines make you safer, not immortal; when your pandemic hairdo is a don’t, and why you should consider the magic of radio if you’d rather be watching the game instead of driving Josh around LA.
Biden has 99 problems and the ports back logs are just one
50:29The Port of Los Angeles will now be running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, under a new plan announced by President Biden. Right now his administration is juggling a lot of problems that are weighing down voter confidence in his presidency: supply chain logjams, rising inflation, a slowing job market and gridlock in Congress. The persistent list of problems now 10 months into Biden’s first term runs counter to the “return to normal” message he successfully ran on when he beat then-President Trump in 2020. But is the president being proactive, or is he opening himself up to blame for problems plaguing the entire global supply chain that are mostly out of his control? This week, we bring on special guest Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report to talk about what voters want from the economy and the president right now. Some Americans are feeling a lingering sense of unease, as the country continues to face labor and goods shortages tied to the pandemic. Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats still can’t come to an agreement to pass Biden’s domestic agenda. How does political polarization affect the way voters think about the administration’s handling of the economy? We discuss. Next on the show: Redistricting is underway as we head into next year’s midterm elections. As was the case 10 years ago, Republicans have an advantage because they control more state legislatures, while some Democratic states, like California, have put redistricting decisions in the hands of independent commissions. But how many seats could Republicans realistically pick up next year through redistricting alone, especially since demographic changes in some major swing states would seem to favor Democrats? A hotly contested gubernatorial election in Virginia next month could give us some clues. Also, what the heck is ‘bacon-mandering’? Then: our panel discusses vaccine mandates and religious exemptions, specifically among Catholics. The Catholic Church’s official position is that getting vaccinated is morally permissible, but sincerely held religious beliefs should be honored as a valid basis for exemption. As vaccine mandates become more commonplace, how does society negotiate those tensions? Finally: Why adults need to stop making Halloween sexy, and why the “woke” Fed is really just doing its job.
We’re doing this again?
1:06:53It’s been an especially stupid week in Congress. Members of Congress are fighting over the debt limit – an archaic, post-war provision from the 20th century. Both sides of the aisle agree that the debt limit needs to go up… but they disagree on how. Democrats can do this on their own. What are they afraid of? Attack ads? Taking up too much floor time when they have other legislation they could be working on, like the infrastructure bill and the spending bill that….they still haven’t agreed on? Republicans say Democrats should raise the debt limit by themselves, but Democrats insist Republicans need to help them out. But just in the nick of time before a partial government shutdown, Republicans allowed Democrats to fund the government for about two more months, so over the holidays, we can do this all over again. Then: President Biden’s approval rating is tanking. A new Quinnipiac poll puts him at just 38 percent approval on the job market and a dismal 25 percent approval rate on immigration. What’s the source of this dissatisfaction?Could the problem just be that Biden isn’t taking credit for the good things his presidency has done, and not “owning” enough conservatives? Next: Professor Kate Shaw joins the panel to talk about the controversial new law in Texas that bans abortions after six weeks, which was preliminarily enjoined this week by a federal judge. This might go all the way to the Supreme Court, which is already hearing oral arguments in December about a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. Does the Constitution actually create a right to abortion? And if Roe is overturned, what can Democrats do to protect abortion access? And finally: having kids might not be that bad an idea, even today… but if you send them to school sick, Liz Bruenig has some words for you.
56:34It’s...past the wire for Democrats and their votes on two big spending packages that are the priorities of President Biden. As we recorded this episode Friday morning, the promised day for a House vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill had passed and Democrats were still fighting amongst themselves on both the price tag of the spending bill and what to prioritize between social and climate spending. All eyes are on the Progressive Caucus, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, and they’re watching each other. Where will this end up? Then, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb talks about the major failures of the pandemic in the United States, why he has lots of feedback for the CDC in particular, and how approaching pandemics like national security threats could serve us better the next time around. All that, plus the media company that wasn’t, moving the fences back, and some proof that vaccine mandates are effective.
Deep dives on Hispanic and Latino voters, and the future of abortion access in the US
50:30This week, guest host and Left, Right & Center contributor Keli Goff takes a deep dive into two issues in the news right now. First: she speaks with Geraldo Cadava about what Democrats and Republicans misunderstand about the “Latino vote” and what they get right. Geraldo says the parties oversimplify voters’ profiles and overlook important factors like geography, the rural/urban divide, class, and many others. Keli and Geraldo discuss the faults of thinking about groups of voters as monoliths — Keli points out that she longs for the day that campaigns approach Black voters like they would swing voters. What do we know about the appeal of the Republican party to Hispanic and Latino voters over the past few decades? And should Democrats be more concerned about whether their strategy is effective? Then, Keli discusses the new laws restricting abortion access in Texas with Gloria Feldt, former president of Planned Parenthood and president of Take The Lead, a national organization advocating for gender parity. Gloria talks about the slippery slope of similar laws, what she fears is ahead for abortion access, and makes a case for new laws that would guarantee women’s rights to live as full citizens in the United States.
Cliffs, drugs and taxes
55:26Democrats have spent weeks talking about their big spending plans, and now they’re talking about how to pay for them. Some ideas: tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans, a capital gains tax regimen, and allowing the government to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies which would cut what the government pays and cutting costs for other American consumers. But can progressives and moderates agree on how to do these things? And how much will the scope of the plan shrink in the process? Then there are the cliffs: hello, a government shutdown is looming September 30, and the debt limit needs to be raised. Can Democrats manage to squeeze out a compromise by the end of the month? And how will that affect the fate of the spending plan? The FDA is reviewing the case for a COVID booster shot. Should Americans be getting a third (or fourth, or fifth…) shot when the rest of the world remains unvaccinated? DR. PETER CHIN-HONG of UCSF talks with the panel about the disagreement among the Biden administration, the medical community and public health officials about whether booster shots are needed now, and how to balance a vaccination campaign and a booster strategy. Also: California Gov. Gavin Newsom soundly defeated a recall effort. Does this tell us anything about next year’s midterm election? And finally: Josh thinks Larry Elder is NOT the future of the California GOP. Also, why Tim might take heat from space Twitter after we publish this.
Required to require
51:35This week, President Biden announced a sweeping new mandate for American workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Companies with 100 or more employees are mandated to require employees to be vaccinated or take a weekly test. Health care workers and federal government employees and contractors must be vaccinated. Companies will have to give employees paid time off to be vaccinated, plus more time to recuperate from any side effects. Is this the right thing to do? Democrats are already making tough choices on their spending bill. Will they have to cut and trim their $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill into a much smaller one? What will end up on the cutting room floor? Then: our relationship with Europe was supposed to be warmer with President Trump out of office but it doesn’t really seem to be the case. What happened? Do European leaders have reason to be frustrated still? EMMA ASHFORD joins us to discuss the grumbling. And, finally: Josh rants about ice cream with chocolate chunks before he’s gently reminded by his producer that we already know he thinks frozen chocolate is bad because he ranted about it three years ago. Josh hasn’t changed his mind, and ice cream hasn’t changed either.
Is this the end of Roe?
50:28This week, a new law took effect in Texas prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women are aware that they’re pregnant. There are many state laws that seek to impose bans on abortions after a certain point in pregnancy, but none are designed the way this Texas law is. It creates a procedural and legal hurdle to those seeking abortions right now, effectively stopping them altogether, before the law can be challenged and reviewed in court. The Supreme Court decided not to stop the law from taking effect. How was it able to do so, based on emergency filings rather than oral arguments and full consideration of the constitutional issues? What are the political implications of this law and the reactions to it from right and left? Are both sides hemmed into extreme positions on abortion when the majority of the public falls somewhere in the middle? Separately, the Supreme Court had already docketed a case on Mississippi’s 12-week ban on abortions this term. Is the end of the Roe/Casey era near? We discuss. Also: an op-ed by Senator Joe Manchin in the Wall Street Journal this week is exactly what progressives DON’T want to hear – that he wouldn’t support a $3.5 trillion spending plan to go along with the infrastructure bill. But he didn’t say anything about what he would support. Is that a smart political decision? Should Democrats be more cautious about major spending with rising inflation and the ongoing pandemic? Then: Jay Powell’s term as chair of the Federal Reserve is up, and President Biden is expected to decide soon whether to nominate him for another four years. Some believe Powell should stick around for his effective handling of the financial aspects of the COVID crisis. David Dayen argues it’s time to appoint somebody who makes the existential threat of climate change a priority. And, finally: how the bankruptcy system protected the Sackler family, why we shouldn’t pretend vaccine mandates don’t curtail civil liberties, and how the NFL’s campaign to get players vaccinated actually worked.
The bombing at Kabul airport
50:29A suicide bombing near the Kabul airport killed 13 U.S. service members just days ahead of the withdrawal deadline. The Biden administration still plans to withdraw from Afghanistan by August 31. Does this deadly attack change that calculus? Also: Democrats in the House are testing their leverage over two very spending bills: the infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion social spending bill...that we don’t really know too much about yet. David Dayen says he can’t envision one passing without the other: it’ll be both or neither. Will progressives and moderates hold together? Plus, how much should Democrats take advantage of the economic moment the country is in now? Is time of the essence? How does the economic climate play into how bills like this get passed? Then: the Supreme Court threw out the CDC’s controversial moratorium on evictions. The Biden administration knew its survival was tenuous, and Congress had already approved enough rental assistance money to extinguish all the rent debt in the country. The only problem is very, very little of that money has reached the hands of tenants and landlords so far. Why is that? And why is this an enduring problem for other kinds of government aid?
The Chaos in Afghanistan
50:32Kabul has fallen. While this was expected to happen, the U.S. government has been surprised by how quickly the Taliban took over. At the start of this week, there were as many as 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan. Now, Americans, along with thousands of Afghans, are trying to flee the country. The result? Mass chaos. This week, panelists Josh Barro, Liz Bruenig, Megan McArdle and special guest Paul D. Miller spend the entire show talking about the war in Afghanistan. Why did the war continue on for so long and what was the U.S. trying to achieve? Was there a better way to withdraw that posed less risk to American personnel and provided more evacuations of vulnerable Afghans? And what should we do now? We discuss.