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Welcome to Positive America, I'm John Fabara and John Lovett, I'm Tommy Vietor on today's Pot, we'll talk about how Republicans have made Joe Biden an offer he can't refuse the race to vaccinate America. And the new face of the Republican Party, Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Then Lovett talks to Congresswoman Katie Porter about why the game stop drama should lead to tougher Wall Street regulations. But how is how is your show this weekend?
Great. Love it or leave it. Alice Waterland join. Talk to Brian Beutler about bipartisanship in Congress. And we were in person to talk to you about that. Yeah, he was like, what is that?
And then we were interrupted by the filibuster. Oh, very good. Also, if you aren't subscribed already, be sure to check out our What a Day newsletter written by the brilliant Sarah Lazarus, who gives you a quick, accessible, hilarious recap of the day's news. Some people are even saying it's funnier in the Biden administration.
So subscribe to What a Day newsletter today at Crooked Dotcom Subscribe.
And finally, Crooked Media's own Dr Abdul El-Sayed, host of America Dissected, is out with a new book today. It's called Medicare for All A Citizen's Guide. It's a no nonsense guide to America's most debated policy in waiting order. Yours today at Medicare for All book dot com.
There's really a glut of of nonsense filled guides to Medicare for all out there. I'm glad we kind of shaped up here.
Don't be fooled. Don't do the nonsense is a nice friends to have Dools. All right, let's get to the news. On Sunday, ten Senate Republicans wrote a letter to President Biden that basically said We see your one point nine trillion dollar covid relief plan and we would like to offer people a lot less relief. The six hundred and eighteen billion counterproposal includes one hundred and sixty billion dollars for fighting the virus and distributing the vaccines. That's like Biden's plan.
Everything else is different. They do a thousand dollar checks for individuals making fifty thousand dollars a year or less, a smaller expansion of unemployment insurance that also cuts out three months. No funding for state and local governments, no increase in the minimum wage, no subsidy for child care. The Republicans also asked for a meeting with Biden. He said, sure. So they're gathering at the White House today for a, quote, full exchange of ideas.
What fun. So Joe Biden campaigned on a promise of unity. He said he wanted to work with Republicans. Now, ten of them have brought him a counteroffer, which would give Democrats the 60 votes they need to pass a regular piece of legislation. Love it. Why not sit down and hammer out a deal, make make Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill proud?
I don't think anything wrong with sitting down. I think there's nothing wrong with having the conversation and then saying, well, this isn't enough because a crisis, big economic crisis that the economists tell us we need to put a huge amount of money in to fill the hole, state and local fill to help people with unemployment, help people with these checks. And, you know, what you're proposing is not nearly enough halfway between what you're proposing and I'm proposing is not nearly enough.
You don't and you're not addressing the crisis. And so in the spirit of unity, I will respect you in good faith, bid you adieu, pass a bill through reconciliation and then trust you not to burn the Capitol down again. Might the three step process for unity.
So how do you think the Biden folks should handle this? Because now that the Republicans have reached out, you know, we got here's here's the headline in Politico today. How serious is Biden about bipartisanship? We're about to find out. Some Biden advisers are starting to argue that Biden can pass the bipartisan test without Republican votes. You read that right.
A lot of skepticism in the media. You've read. That's right. You read that right off the record scratch. Yeah. He's going to be forced into this corner now where everyone expects him to to be bipartisan and they're going to call him a failure if it's not bipartisan. How should the White House handle this?
Let's let's go back to the beat him like a drum, Joe Biden, because he also said that a lot. I mean, I like to love his point. No, No. One I've not heard a single economist, not a Republican. No. Experts say that 600 billion meets the moment and does enough. Like you said, it's about the same amount for vaccinations and PPY and that kind of stuff. But the unemployment insurance example, I think is very important because Biden wants to take the amount of unemployment insurance per week and go from three hundred to four hundred dollars.
And he wants to extend that program through September. The new proposal keeps the unemployment, the rate at three hundred dollars and extends it through June. No one thinks we're going to have the pandemic under control by June. We certainly won't have it under control if we force people to go to work at jobs that put them at risk and continues the spread of the virus. And I think that's why the the the coverage in Washington of this has been so frustrating.
I think the press a lot of folks, a lot of pundits spent a lot of time worrying about bipartisanship is if that is an end in of itself, it is not. Joe Biden was elected to handle the coronavirus. If what's required, according to experts, is closer to one point nine dollars trillion, that they should go for that. I think the real risk is that you construct some small bipartisan bill that includes the popular stuff. And then when you try to do a second bill through reconciliation, you might even lose some of the more moderate Democrats and can't get that done.
So I don't think he has a choice but to take this meeting. It's good to have conversations. I just think the risk is getting bogged down in a negotiation with these guys losing time. States are starved of money. We don't have vaccination set up like that's the disaster. Yeah, and I will say it doesn't seem like, at least from everything we're hearing from the White House and also from Democrats in Congress, that they're going to waste much time on this.
They're all talking about how they need to move fast. So clearly, a lot of lessons have been learned from 2009. I am grateful to the Republicans for this offer because I think it does a great job of spelling out the differences between the two parties. Like in twenty seventeen, they were all willing to spend a lot of money on a pretty unpopular partisan Republican only bill that gave a huge tax cut to the rich. Now they're unwilling to spend a lot of money on a very popular bill that gives economic relief to the whole country.
And so I also think, by the way, so there was eight Republican senators that had been talking to the White House. They tacked on two more so they could make it 10 to show, OK, if you if all these 10 were on board that pass through through regular BOBERT, like these 10 Republicans that are like, you got fuckin Shelley Moore Capito, Jerry Moran, Todd Young and Indiana, like Mitch McConnell, is not letting these people vote for a bill.
It almost would have been funny for Joe Biden to be like, yeah, accepted. Now let's vote on it, because they probably wouldn't get those 10.
John, I just want to say, you could have thrown in a fake name there and it would have just blown right by me.
Yeah, I was I was vulnerable to I if I could have been I could have you would quiz me if you would quiz me on the two senators from Indiana.
I would not know. Or Mike Rounds, whose Mike rounds senator from South Dakota.
OK, so I also think that when Biden ultimately when Biden ultimately decides to go the reconciliation route, he needs to just continue talking about how this piece of legislation has both bipartisan support in the country.
Among voters, which we've seen in our poll, shows about 70 percent of people supporting it, including four in 10 Trump voters.
It also has bipartisan support among governors and politicians outside D.C.. You had the Republican governor of West Virginia today saying we need a lot of money spent even if we spend too much money. If that's not the danger, the danger of spending too little. There's bipartisan support for you. Like he should talk about how the bill has bipartisan support everywhere except among Republican politicians in Washington. Those are the people on their own.
And, you know, I have to say, like there was like Chuck Schumer put out a statement over the weekend that, like, said it so plainly, like we're not going to not do enough because that dragged out the recession in 2009 and we're not going to get dragged along for a long process of Republicans because that's what we did on on Obamacare. And they abandoned us right at the end. So it's like, yeah, we're not going to do a long, dumb process to try and get your votes for Kapiloff.
Fool me once or twice or three times or four times or five times, yeah, but that's it. But eventually that's it. And then after the sequester, no more fooling. Now we've figured it out. We're no more theater. We are. We got onto your game a decade later. Better late than never. So but Biden doesn't need a bipartisan bill. He does need all 50 Senate Democrats on board, including more moderate senators like Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia's Joe Manchin.
Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris did interviews with local news stations in both those states as a way to sell Biden's American rescue plan. This did not sit well with Joe Manchin, who told a reporter, quote, I saw the interview. I couldn't believe it. No one called me. We're going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward. I think we need to, but we need to work together. That's not a way of working together.
Tommy, what was the White House's strategy in sending out to do those interviews? And what did you think of mansion's reaction, poor Joe Manchin?
Yeah, I didn't know they were manufacturing fainting couches in West Virginia. Look, this is politics one on one, like the White House. You do local TV interviews to build support for a legislative priority. I saw some of the reporting on this yesterday. Specifically, Politico referred to it as an effort to troll Joe Manchin. I was like, oh, my God, what happened in this interview? Like, did she, like, read an opposition research file on them?
And then I watched it. And admittedly, it wasn't the cleanest interview Kamala Harris has ever done. She was asked about Biden's climate change plan and what it would mean for coal jobs and misspoke and said something about clearing abandoned land mines instead of coal mines. I think it was look a little clunky, but mostly she focused on job creation, how the cowbird relief bill would work, how the White House wants to prioritize vaccine distribution, how they want to open up schools.
It was substantive. And she talked a little bit about West Virginia specific stats on poverty or small business closures. But it was not about Joe Manchin at all. I don't think his name was even mentioned. And so, like, it seems like a wild overreaction by Manchin in the media.
He's a senator from West Virginia. He's not the viceroy sent by the queen's regent. Like, yeah, well, he's not position blow off my local press.
That doesn't do anything. You can't do local news in West Virginia without first getting the getting the say so from from the boss. Yeah. So the question is like, is this a smart way to build support in West Virginia for the policy and make it easier to get Joe Manchin vote? Judging by his reaction? Clearly it was not. But if you really look at what Joe Manchin is saying about the legislation, he's being pretty positive. He seems focused on targeting the direct checks.
He thinks that maybe a married family that makes three hundred thousand dollars getting a check is too much and he wants to lower it to fifty thousand. I would argue that's insufficient, especially if you're in a state with a higher cost of living. But like those are very reasonable policy discussions to be had and not like some blow up, as you might think if you read Politico. Joe Manchin reaction was ridiculous. I will say I would bet that the White House legislative team was not super psyched about the strategy to go out to swing states for that, because like you say, like building popular pressure in West Virginia is not the way to get Joe Manchin on board.
It's probably calling him and making sure everything is wonderful with fucking Joe Manchin. Look, the fact that Joe Manchin has all holds all the power here in Kyrsten Sinema holds all the power here is an indictment of the fact that we have like a shitty political system.
But it sucks. Right? But like, that's the reality we're living in. Joe Manchin has an enormous amount of power. And you have to keep Joe Manchin happy all the time or else a whole agenda that could help a lot of people, you know, can can die, which we don't want. It sort of reminded me, love it. Were you still in the White House when we wrote the famous budget speech about the Paul Ryan budget and he was in the front row?
Yes. You know, Barack Obama, Barack Obama was going to deliver a speech at American University on Paul Ryan's. Did you remember? And we we had a great time in the speech, like just attacking Paul Ryan on everything by name. You know, he's killing grandparents, all the good stuff. And the legislative team did not make us aware until the speech that Paul Ryan was going to be sitting in the front row.
And so and so Barack Obama goes and delivers all these hits about Paul Ryan's budget to Paul Ryan's face at the event, which was not a great way to earn bipartisan support, just as a just as a lesson that we learned there.
Oh, yeah. Yeah. He would have been all for he would have been all for the agenda otherwise. The one other thing, though, Tommy, Tommy made this point, but it's like four years now. The Republican tax cut punished blue states that are more expensive to live in their proposal to lower the threshold for where the checks would go to are designed to punish states with a higher cost of living. And it is a reminder that even when you see someone like Joe Manchin for some policy like that, that like the warping that the Senate does in the way that it's anti-democratic happens all the time.
Sometimes it's partisan, sometimes it's not. But it's interesting that, of course, a group of Republican senators want to, like, don't have a problem lowering the threshold to where it would not help people in a ton of places that desperately need that help.
Yeah, but like, you know, and Tommy, you were saying this, too, for all the concern about Joe Manchin on this bill and Joe Manchin on a whole bunch of things like filibuster or other shit, he does seem like he was in an interview even before this interview with the Connell Harris interview thing happened saying a million times because they were like, would you vote for the bill through reconciliation?
You support this? And he said like ten different times, I'm going to make sure that Joe Biden is successful. We want to make sure Joe Biden is successful, which tells you like what you need to know about where Joe Manchin stands. He's just doing his politics. He's doing the right thing, doing his politics is Manchin and cinema and maybe a few others going to, like, take the price tag down a little bit from one point nine trillion?
I hope not. But they might because, again, they hold all the power you need their fucking votes. So hopefully hopefully, though, he he comes through and and supports the bill as is.
So one of the Biden administration's main arguments for the size and speed of their plan is the urgency and magnitude of the crisis. So, yes, cases and hospitalizations are falling and we now have a bunch of highly effective vaccines. But we are also racing against the spread of a number of covid mutations that are much more transmissible in at least one case, more resistant to the vaccines. So we can still control these new variants if we vaccinate everyone as fast as humanly possible.
But we learned at a few stories over the weekend that the Biden administration has inherited a bigger vaccine distribution mess than anyone thought.
Under Trump, the federal government failed to coordinate with states on almost every level from helping them staff vaccination sites to literally tracking vaccines. Politico reported that the Trump administration communicated so poorly with states that the Biden administration is now trying to track down 20 million doses that are unaccounted for 20 million. They also find out after Inauguration Day that the company is producing. The shots were nowhere near capable of churning out as many doses as the Trump folks had projected. So, Tommy, we spent a lot of time in the Obama administration talking about the crisis we inherited.
How much and for how long should Biden do the same thing with regard to how badly the Trump administration screwed this up? What can he get away with there?
Should we just blame it all on the Iraq war, as we're suggesting here? Yes.
I mean, I think you can't really talk about where we are and what you're doing to manage the coronavirus without talking about some of how we got here and some of the stuff Trump screwed up. For example, the money for states would be less urgent if the Trump team hadn't actively lobbied against giving states money for vaccine distribution in the last couple of covid packages. So I think there's relevant context, right? Like our testing regime wouldn't be a disaster if Trump hadn't decided that more testing was bad because bigger numbers made him feel bad.
But I think that's more context than it is pointing fingers, if that makes sense. I mean, I think he's going to he's going to eat a lot of political fallout for, you know, the conditions that occurred before he became president. But I think every single president does that. I think his focus has got to be on what we're doing now. They want to hear about incremental progress. We all want to hear about light at the end of the tunnel.
I'm speaking for myself now. That would be my advice, not to spend a lot of time about the Trump era. And, you know, if you look at Jen Psaki briefing today, she got some question about Trump on social media. And she was just like, you know, we don't spend a lot of time thinking about him, to be totally honest with you. And I think that is exactly the right tone. Love it to Tommy's point, but administration is trying to fix a supply issue, a demand issue, a distribution issue, at some point they have to figure out a way to get people booster shots that can help protect against the new variant.
So they have a lot going on from a communications standpoint. How should Biden balance the need to be honest and realistic about how long and hard this might be with the need to offer some hope and optimism to a country that is tired of this shit?
Yeah, something we also had to deal with in the Obama White House. Like remember, like we had to calibrate every speech, every speech has to be like we're not out of the woods yet. Yet we've made progress. We've seen strides. Trump, of course, threw that out the window.
Yeah. I mean, look, first of all, it's worth pointing out that January was the deadliest month we've ever had. Right. Where like 100000 deaths. So the full consequences of the failure of the past year are still kind of coming into relief, not just in terms of what the Biden ministration is learning behind the scenes, but in sort of the the ongoing economic devastation, the the ongoing sort of spread of the pandemic. I do think in terms of what they've been saying about what they're learning is really just about establishing a baseline right there, trying to say we're going to do our best to get the vaccines out the door and get them as many people.
But but we do want to make sure there is an accurate accounting of the baseline when we came in that all the talk about operation warp speed, here's what we started from. And I imagine that there's some spin in there. Right. They're going to go hard to try to make the case that they inherited an incredible mess, which I am sure they did. First of all, on the variant front, I think that, like, there's a lot of very sensationalistic reporting and it's hard to parse what's really going on.
One thing that does seem clear is even as we learn that some of these vaccines are less effective against some of these variants, they are still above the threshold by which we would have declared them a success. Have we not heard about the incredible success of Moderna and Pfizer at whatever it is, ninety four point ninety five percent?
I do think it is really hard when an administration spent a year poisoning people's minds about the best way to respond to a pandemic as a society, not from the government. I think that's an incredible challenge that they've inherited. I do wonder if now isn't the time, especially because people are giving up on the ways in which they can help prevent community spread right at the moment at which the vaccine is being rolled out like we've just now crossed the threshold where more people have the vaccine than have had the illness.
We were at a million then one point three now one point five, like it's rising, like things are changing, things will get better. And I do think that, like. I see them not wanting to overpromise and under deliver, Biden goes out there and says, we'll get it to people by spring in the White House is like, well, we don't know about Spring and Johnson and Johnson. Well, we don't know how it's going to come out.
But I do think kind of a saying like we're almost at the end of this. Just hang in there. Just hang in there. There's way too much doom and gloom bullshit.
Yes. New strains like, look, we're talking is terrified. What is terrifying? Let me let me terrify. We're talking about reduced efficacy rates on some of the vaccines against the South African strain. But we're still talking about a shot that's 50 percent effective. That's like a standard flu shot. So the bottom line is all the vaccinations that we've all that data is reducing hospitalizations and deaths to basically zero and then preventing 50 percent of the transmission. That's a miracle.
Like we should talk about it accordingly. It's going to be a long couple of months, but I don't think that is as much to do with the new strains then. And like variants and booster shots and all this stuff we're hearing about now than just the logistics of manufacturing in disseminating the vaccine. If we get that part right, you reduce deaths, you reduce infections, you stop the virus from mutating. So we won't have any more of these conversations because it's not like running rampant, get the economy going right.
And then in concert with that, you give people economic relief that they need to hang on through the summer. They get all the pieces are there. It's like just to read this stuff.
Johnson and Johnson is one hundred percent effective at preventing hospitalizations and death, which is huge even against the South African variant. Right. Look, I think when you talk to people at the Biden White House, it's it's not just expectations setting. It's not just spin. Their concern is, you know, the CDC has already said that in March, the U.K. variant would be the dominant strain in the country. Here, it's 50 percent more transmissible. If a critical mass of people were vaccinated at that point, we wouldn't have to worry as much about it.
Right. Like a critical mass of people are vaccinated in a country like Israel. The strain is all over the place there. It's still working. I think what they're concerned about is over the next six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks, the U.K. strain takes over here. It's more transmissible. We still haven't gotten the vaccinations up yet. And so we will see another spike. That's what they're trying to prepare us for, which I think, you know, is is a real, genuine concern.
Again, though, all in time, it all comes back to we just they just got to get people vaccinated faster and they got to move heaven and earth to do it. And I think Biden doesn't have to go out there and be a barometer every day about whether things are good or bad or in between. Like we I think we made this mistake with Obama. Sometimes it was, yeah. Here's exactly the state of the economy every single day, like the president does need to be talking about that.
What Biden needs to be doing is talking every day about what they're doing to fix it. Right. And like, he needs to get pissed when things don't go right. And he needs to show us that he's fighting like hell and he needs to show people that he's running through a brick wall for people and keep announcing progress. Right. Like today, they announced thirty dollars rapid at home covid tests that are ninety five percent accurate that they're shipping to.
You know, incremental progress like that is going to be important to talk about every single day.
I think that's right. I guess I think we're combining two things like one is the messaging around what's actually going on that's realistic and honest, that doesn't overpromise. And I think that's really important. You know, we can be hope.
You know, look, we're not we're not in control of what strains emerge, right? We're not we don't know what the future holds, but here's what we know, what we can do. But the other piece of it to me that I think is important is, you know, everybody's fucking sick of this and people are giving up. And so what is the best thing to tell a country that has been lied to that the people who have sacrificed feel let down by all the people who haven't?
You have health care professionals who are out there and you have like a mental health crisis, you have a financial crisis. All of this happening at once. And I do think that there are some space for just some like light it. We're almost the end is in sight if we do these things because the vaccine. Yeah, we need to roll the vaccine out, of course. But like mass and social distancing, still fucking work. And we've abandoned them, you know, to large parts of the country.
We've abandoned them. So I think that's that's what I'm talking about is just like if you can if there's value to just signaling to people that that that the time is short and that that if they sacrifice a little while longer because this seven or eight week period, that's the other piece of this, that like the next few weeks matter even more than the weeks that follow. Right. Like if we can do something for the next four to six weeks, whatever the numbers are based on these studies, like a huge amount of debt and a huge amount of pain is prevented if we do it right now as the vaccine is ramping up.
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I had some I had some athletic greens this morning.
Oh, no, he's on the Buccaneers, you know, had some athletic greens this morning before I went for a jog. And you know, what's great about it is it helps you not fall. I find it's ridiculous that we're still mourning the one morning I didn't have my athletic making fun of.
John, you know, there he was walking by the pet store. There's flames lapping at the pool and the puppy enclosure. And he goes in, all right. He goes in. I run towards the danger.
Right? That's me. He runs towards the danger.
And you know why? It's because he was full of energy, hopped up on his Enviga piss and vinegar. Is that a phrase?
I don't know. Yeah, sure. I pumped up from those athletic greens.
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All right, let's talk about the future of the Republican Party and specifically whether it looks more like Liz Cheney or Marjorie Taylor Green.
And what a choice. And speaking of disease variants, here we go.
This week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the courageous hero in his own right, will help decide the fate of both women. He'll choose whether or not to block a resolution kicking Cheney out of leadership because she voted to impeach the guy who incited a violent insurrection.
He'll also meet with Green, who's facing calls to be expelled from Congress after CNN and Media Matters surfaced some old social media activity where she liked a Facebook post calling for the assassination of Nancy Pelosi. And FBI agents heckled Parkland survivors and blamed the California wildfires on a space laser controlled by a Jewish family. Green also believes the Kuhnen cult is worth listening to, that Muslims don't belong in government, that 9/11 was an inside job, that the Parkland and Sandy Hook shootings were faked, and that the Zionist supremacists are encouraging Muslim immigration is what she said.
So most of these comments were known when she ran and won election to represent the 14th Congressional District in northwest Georgia.
Tommy, what can be done about her now? Already, freshman Democrat Cory Bush has asked for her office to be moved away from Greens for safety reasons.
I mean, it seems like there's three options you can expel from Congress that takes a two thirds vote. So it seems unlikely you could censure her, which would just sort of condemn her. I think that has some bipartisan support. And then Democrats are now saying, if you don't strip her saying to Kevin McCarthy, if the Republican Party wants Stryper of her committee assignments, they will do it for them. I think she's on the House Education Labor, the health committee.
Right. She's on the Labor Committee, education and then the Budget Committee. So some powerful places. Yeah, I saw the guys on Politico today, they said if if the if the Republican caucus in the House ends up stripping Liz Cheney from her leadership post, but doing nothing about Green, it'll be a real black eye for them heading into 2022.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I would. I would say so. I would say that two demerits for you, Kevin McCarthy.
So a broader question here, Green got a lot of coverage and attention last week. She's bound to get more. What do we do about this going forward?
Should we ignore her? Should we make her the face of the Republican Party? Well, how do you balance that? You know, it's you know, look, it's the same problem we've had in dealing with Trump for years. What do you do when this person feeds on attention and outrage and yet also speaks for a huge percentage of the Republican Party at this point? And as you just pointed out, is more ascendant then than the group of 10 House Republicans who had the audacity to tell the truth and vote to impeach Donald Trump.
Tim Miller wrote in in Rolling Stone about what these 10 Republicans are doing to try to start fighting against this radical, rabid, conspiracy minded wing.
What really the Republican Party itself and you read it and man, it just has just some very strong Alamo vibes of just a group of people facing a this racist, anti-Semitic, conspiratorial group of people and the huge mass of cowards unwilling to take them on. I imagine Kevin McCarthy would be quite relieved if Democrats remove someone like Green from the from her committees because it spares them the embarrassment and headlines that she will surely create when she's on those committees. That said, I think it's morally irresponsible to treat this person as she just has a different set of beliefs and teach the controversy.
So I think we have to condemn it. I think we have to use all of our power to condemn it. I think we have to isolate it and try to get rid of it. I have not against it. I don't I don't know why you wouldn't have a vote to expel them and get all these Republicans on record as to whether or not they want this kind of person in Congress and speaking for them, especially if they're about to get Liz Cheney off of their leadership committee.
So, you know, I don't know if that's it. That's what I got.
Tell me I'm inclined to make her the face of the Republican Party. What do you think? Yeah. So I think the question of how you deal with trolls is complicated. And to be clear, that's what she is. Marjorie Taylor Green is a troll. She's doing this for retreat's. She's doing it to raise money. So is Madison Cawthorn guy. Right. The other famous Republican freshman who says he's basically structured his staffing around communications and not policy.
I've been reading a lot about the alt right crew from like twenty, fifteen, twenty sixteen.
So they derived money and power influence by saying inflammatory things and then getting well-meaning liberals to get outraged and react to them or share their stuff. And it was effectively a strategy enabled by social media because Facebook and Twitter helped people like Miloje or Mike Stivic go from running blogs that no one ever looked at to getting their views in front of a lot of people. But when they got D platforms, when they got kicked off of Facebook or YouTube, people like Alex Jones or Miloje, it hurt them a lot.
And I think the damage was done because they built an audience and they filtered their views into the broader model world and they shifted the boundaries of the discourse in politics. But ultimately, that was the right move. I think that Marjorie Taylor Green has to be build platform. She has a platform called Congress, like they need to draw a line in the sand because it's the right thing to do. But also, I think it will work, like when when the Republicans stripped Steve King of his power, it helped eventually lead to his defeat in a Republican primary.
It took too long, but it also embarrassed the party. And like not having Steve King in Congress is a good thing. Not having Marjorie Taylor Green in Congress would be a good thing. To your broader point of like the face of the party, Trump constantly accuses the Democratic Party of being anti-Semitic because of comments by a few individual members. I think we should do the same thing. We need to up the cost of being associated with Marjorie Taylor Green and draw a line in the sand and say this person shouldn't be making laws like I have no faith in the Republicans to to do the right thing.
Trump is injecting himself. He called Marjorie Taylor Green. He's on her side. Kevin McCarthy is a coward and a moron. Right. He just wouldn't grovel to Trump's feet at Mar a Lago. Mitch McConnell won't provide any leadership on the impeachment vote. I'm sure he won't step in here. They are stuck in this same cowardly Republican loop. But someone needs to exercise this political cancer because we can't hide from people like her. It's going to grow like she is the new face of the party.
She is the norm. Now, it is not Paul Ryan. It is not these like country club Republicans. It's people like her. Yeah, no, and I think and I think that's an important point to make, like, you know, in just from a pure political standpoint, pure political perspective in 2020, like most Republican candidates ran ahead of Donald Trump. Donald Trump was seen as more extreme than most Republican candidates. That wasn't necessarily the case in 2016, which is why we got one of the reasons we got him as president.
In general, if a party is viewed as more extreme, they do worse.
That's just that's that's what the data shows. And if the Republican Party is viewed as the party of Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Bobert, they're going to do worse. And a lot of parts of the country, obviously not all. So there is some deep red parts, but in a lot of parts of the country where it matters, they will do worse than if the party is seen as the party of Mitt Romney and Susan Collins. Right.
That's it sounds basic, but it's true. So you're right. I totally agree. Timing on all the stuff about like she should be platformed. And it's good to think about that in Congress as well as on social media. But I do think the Democrats should let it be known that she is the face of the party now. Yeah, I mean, the Republican Party is the cult of Trump without an intervention, that will be the case. Gates is in Wyoming for some reason campaigning against Liz Cheney.
Marjorie Taylor Green is growing in influence like I don't like Liz Cheney's politics, but I do like her position on reality in that she is tethered to it.
You know what I mean? It's not just them.
It's Ron Johnson, the senator from Wisconsin, who's using his position to elevate conspiracy theories, including about vaccines and attacking social distancing and masks. So, yeah, there's like there's a real problem within that party. It's not good for Democrats to have an opposition party that disease.
It's worth remembering, too, that like man Liz Cheney, Liz Cheney spread the most noxious, toxic right wing propaganda for years.
It just it was the Bush it was the Bush type, not the Trump type. You know, she was a she was a post 9/11 right winger who attacked Democrats in the most pernicious ways to try to undercut their patriotism and all of that. We dealt with it for years. She was heinous. And it's a testament to how not just how far the party has moved, but how people like Liz Cheney contributed to that movement, that they are responsible, that they set the tone and they moved the party.
Right. And they ignored the worst voices in their party for years that put them in the situation. Yeah, there's a there's no a lot of talk about the Republican civil war, there's no civil war. The reality based side is losing badly and almost done because they're not fighting.
It's like Adam Kinzinger is the only one on TV. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois. Congressman, I don't agree with him on a single policy. He's the only person who has had the guts to stand up to Trump ism in lies and conspiracy theories for years. And odds are he's going to be attacked and someone's going to try a primary because the rest of the people who know he's right don't have the guts to say so. I guess they would rather just cling to power.
He gets credit. Mitt Romney gets credit in the Senate.
And I don't think there's too many others. I would say.
I think that what I would like to see, though, just about extracting costs for what they've been doing. So Scott Biegel is one of the people that was killed in Parkland, actually knew him. I grew up with him and his mother called Marjorie Taylor Green and basically said, like, are you willing to tell me right now that my my son wasn't killed, that there was a false flag and she wouldn't? And she said, well, will you come on television with me and say it?
Will you apologize? Will you admit that Parkland really happened, that like my son and his heroism is real, that our pain is real and she refused to do it. And as long as people like Kevin McCarthy aren't willing to do that, like I would like to see these clips paid for these people, like we we, you know, there for so long, Republicans are like, oh, you know, the media treats us like the away team and you're the home team.
And there's some truth to that. But one of the reasons, one of the ways in which it benefits Republicans is that the press treats Republicans like McCarthy, treats them like antagonists.
It treats them like people that can't change, that don't deserve to be confronted, that don't deserve to be held to the same standard that Democrats are held to hold them to the standard, show them the clips, embarrass them on television, make them pay for what they're endorsing by not standing up to these people.
Yeah. All right, when we come back, we will have Lovett's interview with Katie Porter, they're just going to give you all some stock tips.
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She's the Democratic congresswoman representing California's 47th District, Katie Porter, welcome back to parts of America. Thank you.
It's good to see you. So we have a lot to cover. So today, President Biden is meeting with 10 Republicans to discuss their counterproposal of a 600 billion dollar relief plan versus the Biden plan of one point nine trillion. It's obviously inadequate. How should we be thinking about this process? What do you what do you what to your mind is the most likely way to get from this meeting to the most help for the most people as quickly as possible pass the Democratic plan?
I mean, I think it's important that Biden meet with these senators. I think this is an important opportunity to set a tone of more collaboration, of more listening, of more dialogue. But ultimately, these Republicans need to be told, because obviously they're not listening to their constituents. So it's up to the rest of us to tell them that that 600 billion dollars will only cause more economic harm in this country and create a deeper recession that is ultimately much harder to get out of and creates much deeper consequences.
And this, by the way, is something that's being said by economists from all different kinds of backgrounds. The only disagreement on this really is coming from a handful of politically motivated people who, as we know, have no problem running up and running up the deficit with tax cuts for their corporate donors.
So did they just start with a tiny number and then backfill what they cut from the Biden plan to get there? Like the economists aren't calling for it? There's an option for Democrats to pass it through reconciliation without any Republican votes. What is motivating these Republicans to try to kind of jam Biden in this way? Is it purely just to undercut the new administration? Do they genuinely have concerns about doing enough to help people in this crisis? Like what do you think is actually going on here?
These are some of my favorite questions. The what do you think is going on in Ted Cruz's empty head? How would I know? I'm not at Ted Cruz.
He's not at the meeting.
These are like you're right, these other people, I can't say what they're thinking or what their motivation is because I'm not I'm not there. But but let me just say this. This is not the smaller package with the kinds of cuts that they're making, including to state and local funding, including to to some of the support for working families. This is fiscally irresponsible. The fiscally pragmatic, responsible thing to do here is to meet the needs of stabilizing our economy.
So I just want to say it's really important that we as progressives champion this and set the record straight. The point that we are putting forward the one point nine dollars billion plan that meets the scope in need of what it has done to our economy is fiscally responsible. What these Republicans are doing is is not it is going to only deepen the recession and set our country on a path to be net globally competitive with other nations who have dealt with this situation, both covid and the economic fallout much better.
So I want to dig into that position because I think so. So they're obviously trying to do this because they're blanching at the price tag. But you're basically saying that if we don't spend enough now, the hole it creates in the economy over time creates a much bigger fiscal problem than spending enough now would create.
Exactly. And I'll just offer you a couple of examples if we do. Our office recently released a report on the way that women are exiting and being squeezed out of the workforce as a result of covid-19 plus the economic fallout that it's created. If we don't find a way to, for example, invest in child care, invest in getting schools open, make sure there are deeper cuts in state and local government and funding, then all we're going to see is more women stay out of the workforce for longer.
What does that mean? It ultimately means we're draining talent out of our workforce. We're making women and particularly single women, women of color, low income women more likely to experience financial hardship to need to borrow to go bankrupt, to not be able to save for retirement. That is backwards. So what we need to do here is try to right size the relief for the scope of the problem. And the longer this problem has gone on, the fact that President Trump did not deal with this well, did not get vaccines out, did not prioritize health and safety.
The fact that we've chronically under invested in public health is a great example of how this costs more in the long run.
So one one piece of the crisis that you've been talking about is the toll this has taken on mental health, that there's a lot of people we've failed to provide mental health services to enough people long before the pandemic.
Now we have people in isolation with people who have long struggled with addiction. Alone and without their sort of support system, what what are you trying to do to address the mental health crisis that we're in?
Yep. So one of the things that we did was pass at the very end of last year as part of the covert relief bill, a bill that we have a bipartisan bill to create more accountability for insurers to follow the law.
Now, this sounds simple, but big companies newsflash don't always follow the law. It's cheaper just to break the law and see if you get caught. So the Affordable Care Act had a provision called mental health parity, meaning that mental health treatment should be treated the same way as other kinds of health treatment, whether it's for orthopedic care or something else. Insurers have not been complying with this. There anyone who's tried to make an appointment for mental health, there are no providers in network.
The providers don't take insurance because the reimbursement is terrible. There are unclear benefits. So this bill would try to make sure that we're enforcing we're delivering on that promise of mental health parity. But we have to do more than that. We also have to address the fact, as you said, that covid has only deepened some of the mental health needs. This is coming through grief and loss of life. People have lost loved ones in this and lost them in ways that don't allow them to process its isolation, its anxiety.
And so we're also calling for increased funding in our bill, stopping the mental health, behavioral sapping the Mental Health Pandemic Act. And I'm hearing this, by the way, on the ground from providers as I'm going about my day seeing neighbors, talking to people in my community. They are all telling me that this is a huge problem, that there have waitlists for appointments, that there's a shortage of mental health care, including and this is really important, the mental health needs of our health care workers, many of whom are being traumatized by what they're having to work with and through right now, even tackling so many facets of this that I think don't get the attention they deserve.
Another piece of this that you've been talking about is. The pharmaceutical industry and the consolidation that we've seen there look like we've spent a year watching this failure unfold. There was an economic failure to provide people the resources they needed so they didn't have to work seeing a failed response by the previous administration. But science and the vaccine development was extraordinary. It happened incredibly quickly. It's a great testament to basic research. Investments in the from the public sector is a testament to the to to, you know, these incredible these incredible scientists and what they did.
But you've been looking at the way in which consolidation in pharmaceuticals might raise costs for prescriptions, but also stop innovation. Can you talk a little bit about the kind of consolidation that's been going on that may make developments like this in the future harder?
Yep. So we all agree that we want to have innovation in health care. We want improved treatments. We want improved outcomes. And that means that we need to create the conditions for innovation. One of those conditions is competition. And what we found is that what's going on in pharmaceuticals, as in many other areas of our economy, is an increasing problem with monopoly monopoly behavior and monopoly problems. So to the extent that these large pharmaceutical companies are gobbling up smaller ones, what they do is acquire that the thing, the one thing they want and then dump and cut all of the culture of innovation.
And many of these smaller companies are the very entities that are willing to take risks, who are investing in things that are further out from market development. And so it's really important that we have companies of different sizes with different levels of risk in our pharmaceutical community. And so what we show is we give a really couple powerful examples in the report of exactly what happened when a company or a small company making powerful innovations was acquired by a big company. It's not good.
The big pharmaceutical companies are going to focus on the profits on their shareholders. They're not going to focus on those long term research and development and development initiatives. Big Pharma spends more on lobbying every year than they do on research and development. Really important for people to understand that we should be pushing big pharmaceutical companies to put more money into R&D. Don't take them at their word. So make them show that that's, in fact what they're doing. And none of this is to take away from the amazing work that scientists are doing.
In fact, we want to support and encourage more of that.
So, I mean, it used to be right that there was there was Bell Labs, that these companies had these kind of long term aspects of what they did, basic research, higher risk things. And that's sort of gone by the wayside. The federal government has cut back in terms of by percentage what they invest in basic research. And now what you're saying is basically these small, these small companies that pop up to do something really risk taking, to do something really innovative, to try to make something new that they get gobbled up by these big pharmaceutical companies.
And then the only thing they keep is the one thing they've already made making it possible for them to make something new.
Right. They shelve and actively kind of hold back the culture of innovation and the actual innovative projects that were going on at the small company. And so they're basically just, you know, purchasing the entire thing to get that one thing that may be profitable. But then the rest of the initiatives die in the pipeline.
And we've seen pharmaceutical big pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of money making minor adjustments to existing therapies to try to hang on to patent protection and continue to make profit, rather than investing in research and development to identify new drugs and new treatments.
And so what is the way to stop them from doing that? Is it more aggressive oversight by regulators around Monopoly? Like what's the way to intervene? Is that what legislation is needed? Yeah, we put several things in our report about what we can do in this regard, but part of it is before we can even get to that point, we have to educate the public and educate our elected officials that this is a problem. We are also grateful to have, you know, development of vaccines by these large companies, but we can't take them at their word that everything they're doing is always about innovation.
They are companies. They have shareholders. What are they doing? They're doing what companies do. They're delivering profits to their shareholders and on the capitalists. There's nothing wrong with that. But healthy capitalism means that you have that market competition. So in our report, we lay out a number of policy things that that could be done. But a lot of this the real barrier isn't that the policy solutions are so complicated. It's that politically pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars every year to convince the American people that if they are subject to any market forces or any regulation, that they will stop innovating.
So speaking of speaking of capitalism, before we let you go, I did want to talk about GameStop. And I say that as one of their largest shareholders. I'm not I'm not.
So a lot of the coverage has been about this being the sort of ordinary person versus hedge funds. It also seems to be about risk and where risk is hidden in our system when it's working supposedly smoothly. What are the lessons you are taking away from this, about what it says about the sort of health of our financial system?
Yeah, well, first and you know, I'm sounding here just like my, you know, my mentor, Elizabeth Warren, but she's dead, right? The stock market is only one measure of economic well-being or activity. You know, Elizabeth and I have seen this. You can have a sky high stock market and also have consumers with sky high debts who are filing bankruptcy in record numbers. So let's not conflate the stock market with an actual economic fundamentals.
Similarly, let's not confuse the price of a stock like GameStop, which was run up by manipulating practices, by kind of pumping up by retail investors coming together to flood the market with actually GameStop being a good investment or not. And yes, hedge some of the hedge funds that were involved, they they were in trouble. They had a run. They couldn't meet their requirements. They got they got bought by another company. They got a capital infusion.
They had to basically sell part of their company. There are also hedge funds making a ton on this GameStop thing. And there are regular investors who are going to lose a lot of money on GameStop, because at the end of the day, this is a company in trouble. This is not a company with sound economic models. And the real issue here is making sure that we're having regulators and S.E.C. that is doing its job of understanding the risk. This is not despite the name Robin Hood.
And however much I don't like that particular hedge fund guy on the other side of it, this really isn't a big versus small problem. This is a problem about risk and the fact that smaller investors are less able to bear that risk. And they've taken an awful lot of it on here.
Yeah, I mean, it seems it seems like we do want a system where individual people have access to markets in the same way that big institutional investors do. But it seems that what would be the worst outcome is if all the bad practices in gambling and casino like behavior of these large entities then trickle down to everybody. Right. Like it seems like what we want is we want to be open. We want to be fair. But it's this strange situation where the more people behave like it's a casino, the more it becomes one and the more risky and dangerous it becomes writ large for everybody.
Right. And look, you know, to short a stock, you're basically betting on the direction of the stock share. You're betting that it will go down. And if you're wrong, the consequences on the other side are huge. Right. You can weigh more money than you put at risk in the first place. And this is this means you need to have a lot of liquidity. You need to have a lot of cash on hand to be able to meet that.
You need to have other kinds of counter risk strategies. This is not something that individual investors are going to be able to do. So, look, if you have a hundred dollars or a thousand dollars and you want to see what happens, by all means short a stock, maybe you'll win, maybe you'll lose. But understand, you might be on the hook for way more than that. Thousand dollars. And let me tell you, in all my years of dealing with families in bankruptcy and in financial trouble, I've never seen a hedge fund step up and say to a family, to a mom and dad driving a minivan with a kid or two, hey, we'd like to buy part of your household and give you this money and invest in you.
It's not going to happen. These consumers are just going to end up holding the short end of the stick. So I think your point, John, is exactly right. We want an even playing field. We want everyday investors to have access to strategies that will make them money and give them the opportunities to get the upside of capitalism. But the risk is also there. And we need to make sure we have a regulator who's doing the job of understanding the risk.
So, too, to ideas that have been talked about recently. One is sort of addressing this market, which basically just making sure companies have more money if they're going to be engaging in short selling. But the other is something that's been talked about for years, which is putting some kind of a tiny tax or fee on on trades to stop the high frequency trading that some of these hedge funds have made a ton of money on. On the other side of these transactions, what do you think about what are some of the ways we should be thinking about this in terms of what Congress can do?
So with regard to making sure that there's adequate liquidity, that these entities have backstops, I mean, that's the job of the S.E.C. and it's is true for Robinhood as it is for any other entity. Right. And if stock prices are going crazy, there's always the ability to stop the market, to freeze trades. What happened with Robin Hood is exactly what happens in other context with other companies when the stock when their stock manipulation, whoever is doing pump and dump, whoever is manipulating the market, whether it's big or small, it's wrong.
And there are market mechanisms to try to stop that. So with regard to the financial tax, I think there's a couple of points here. One is we just need to think about where do we want to create the revenue that we need to invest in economic growth? Right. And we have different places we could put that right. Right now, we have an effective tax rate on middle income families. That's a lot higher than it is on many millionaires and others because of differences in capital gains rates and different deduction rules, things like that.
The financial transaction tax is one place that we could look to raise revenue. And the larger issue, I think, is, you know, because it's only large entities and complex entities that can engage typically in the kind of really high liquidity, high frequency excuse me, trading that's going on. We might think that that tax would fall more on those big companies. But I think those are really two separate questions. There's a risk question and then there's a tax question.
I don't think we should be using the tax to try to deter the risk taking, if that makes sense.
Yeah. Before we let you go, you you ordered vanity license plates that say oversight for your minivan. Have they come and will they qualify as a waiver to get you back on financial services so that license plates have not come, but they have been ordered?
And I'm very happy to report it's very tough in California. There are a lot of other people that nobody else wanted the license plate of our city. So it's on. It's been submitted. It's being made. It'll get to me. I'll put a picture up as soon as I can, figure out how to get the plates and get them on my van. You know, with regard to the committees, you know, I am thrilled to be on natural resources and to be on oversight.
And, you know, part of it is we lost seats in the House. So I was the most junior member on oversight. I could have lost my spot. So I reallocated my committee preferences. I rank them one, two, three. And in the end, there were, you know, I think 13 or 11 members who got waivers. I didn't I was one or two who didn't. I'm disappointed not to be able to serve on financial services.
But there's I think one of the things this whole thing is illustrated to me is how much how confusing and how not transparent some of these things are. The inner operations of Congress are to the American people, like the rules of the caucus, are so complex that people can't even understand how we get on the committees we get on. And in that being very, you know, opaque and difficult to understand, then there's the potential for, you know, people to get confused and not understand what happened.
So I would love to be back on financial services. There may be another opportunity either in a future Congress or later in this Congress. But in the meantime, I'm going to keep working on these issues. You know, I spent my life working on issues of consumer protection and capitalism. I'm going to keep working on this, whether I'm on the committee or not.
Congressman Katie Porter, thank you so much for talking to us today.
Thank you. Thanks to Congresswoman Katie Porter for joining us today and will talk to you guys later. Buy low, sell high, everybody. Hotei of America is a crooked media production.
The executive producer is Michael Martinez. Our associate producer is Jordan Waller. It's mixed and edited by Andrew Chatwin. Kyle Cygwin is our sound engineer, thanks to Tanya commentator Katie Lang, Roman Papadimitriou, Caroline Ruston and Justin Howe for production support into our digital team, Elijah Konar Melkonian, Elfriede and Milo Kim, who film and upload these episodes as videos every week.