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Right now you can try a zip recruiter for free at zipper Crittercam accomplished cricket bat zip recruiter dot com slash. Welcome to Positive America. I'm John Fabara. I'm Dan Pfeiffer. On today's Pod, I talk to Cricket Media's own doctor, Abdul El-Sayed, about his interview with Dr Tony Foushee. Before that, we'll talk about a very rough, very weird week for the Trump campaign. Joe Biden's ambitious climate plan and his campaign's decision to start running ads in Texas.
But first, check out this week special bonus episode of This Land, where Rebecca Nagle talks about what last week's big Supreme Court decision means for native rights. Today is an excellent episode just out. Check it out. Also, our adopted state program sound at the first call to action e-mails last week. And I'm told that we have a bit of a competition on our hands. Team Florida raised over forty thousand dollars to register voters in that state between North Carolina, apparently made 10000 calls in a single day to educate voters about down ballot races in that state.
And for some reason, Dan, whoever put those two anecdotes in the Pods of America prep chose to ignore the fact that the host reading them has adopted Arizona. So I have no updates for my state, but I'm I'm sure we're doing an incredible job.
I'm wearing the T, I'm wearing the t shirt because I was like, fuck this. No, no. Give me an update on Arizona.
Do you think it's because there was just so much amazing news they decided to leave it out? Or do you think maybe you should be more involved in your team?
Maybe I should be more involved in my team, although I saw an e-mail from from Juliet at our team Arizona emailed this morning. And it seems that we have called three thousand voters already in rural Arizona because we're trying to register more rural Arizonans as part of that state's efforts in 2020, which I think is great. It would have been great to include that in the prep dog. But, you know, I guess we don't have any team, Arizona people working on working now.
So that's a failure to recruit on your part?
It is. I would say I am not. A white guy named Nate. So I'm not saying I'm good at math, but 10000 thousand, definitely more than 3000. That's what I know. Fuck everyone else. If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late. Go to vote. Save America. Dot com slash, adopt. Join the thousands of volunteers looking to Flip's in swing states. Finally, one last thing. We have refreshed and restocked the cricket merch store at cricket dot com slash store.
We've got a new friend of the pod merch. We've got new adopter state merch. I'm told there are even some. This is, again, just right in the prep dock. Word for word. Fun and flirty takes stand. Fun and flirty tanks. That's just for you. So did my lease go to Africa? Doug? No. Things are out of control here. So please go to cricket dot com slash store and get them while they last.
All right. Let's get to the news. Donald Trump's campaign strategy of trying to get re-elected by ignoring the pandemic that's ravaging America isn't really catching on.
A Quinnipiac poll on Wednesday has him down 15 points nationally. Monmouth poll hasn't down 13 points in Pennsylvania. He's down about nine points nationally, about seven and nine points in the battleground states he needs right now on average. Last night, he replaced his campaign manager, Brad Parr, scowl.
And on Tuesday, he held an official White House press conference in the Rose Garden that was supposed to be about China and Hong Kong, but was instead an hour of incoherent rambling about Joe Biden in the campaign. We pulled a few excerpts, see if you can follow along. Here's a clip.
We have great agreements where when Biden and Obama used to bring killers out, they would say, don't bring them back to our country. We don't want. And what we have to we don't want. They wouldn't take him now with us.
They'd take him. Someday, I'll tell you why. Someday I'll tell you why. But they take him and they take him very gladly. They used to bring them out and they wouldn't even let the airplanes land. If they brought them back by airplanes, they wouldn't let the buses into their country. They said we don't want them. Said no, but they entered our country illegally. And they're murderers. They're killers in some cases. And they said, nope, we don't want them to turn the bus around.
They turned the plane around. Then they'd land in the United States and who knows what happened. But it wasn't good enough.
What about polls, too? I think we have fairly good poll numbers. They're not suppression polls. They're real polls. You look at the intercoastal in Florida, you look at the lakes, you see thousands of boats with Trump signs, American signs. You've got the Trump pen sign all over. You look at what's going on. You look at bikers for miles and miles riding up highways proudly with their signs.
Dan, is it possible that Donald Trump's freewheeling rhetorical style may undercut his argument that Joe Biden isn't mentally fit to be president?
There is so much to break down from those clips, Slovene. There are so many good parts. One, you know, you may not know this, John. I and how close you fall politics, but boat freighters are the new soccer moms.
What a lot of the data journalists are saying is that you have to look, look, it's look, we're laughing now. It's going to be pretty embarrassing. The day after the election when Donald Trump was won re-election and we should have seen it coming in the number of boat people holding up Trump's sights in Florida.
Yes, I agree with that.
I agree with that. And I remain I have a lot of remaining concerns about this election, which we can talk about. But if Donald Trump is re-elected and Bill Mitchell retreats by July 20, 20, tweet about boat freighters, that is the least of my fucking problems.
I'll tell you that. But also, when he's in there and his leg, they let in killers. Some of them are even murderers.
He's like and we don't know why, but I'll tell you someday why it was so hard to fall.
I mean, that was just those were two clips. We could have done like 10 clips from that press conference. It was one. I realize it's ridiculous to keep saying that was one of the most rambling, incoherent things Donald Trump has ever done, because we say that all the fucking time we have for the last however many years.
But that was really. That was new levels that that Rose Garden press conference. New levels. And I mean, shall we talk for a second about the fact that it was an official White House press conference in the Rose Garden from the prison United States, where basically he used the entire time to attack his political opponent like it was a campaign rally?
That's not normal, right?
It's not normal, nor is it legal. Legal, right. Which which people just sort of skipped over. Yeah.
It's neither cool nor legal, I think is from back going back to Peachment 100 years ago.
It is. You cannot campaign from federal property. And when the president does political work, then his campaign or his political party is required by law to reimburse the taxpayers for some of the costs incurred.
For example, if the President Trump gets on Air Force One and flies to Ohio to do a campaign rally, just a political event, a portion of the cost of Air Force One, the traveling staff, security costs, et cetera, must be paid by the campaign.
And so when you do it on federal property in the White House, you are violating a large number of laws. And a lot of people were like, well, the president's exempt from the Hatch Act, which is a terrible law that we should change.
The president should not, you know, Hatch Act, since the president is the person with the greatest incentive to use federal property for political purposes.
But even still, what that means is not that what he did was legal. What it means is that Trump can't go to jail for it. But the campaign still must be billed for what they did. Obviously, there's no one in a position of power to make him do that, given that bill bars at the Department of Justice. But it is very legal and it's easy to let the craziness override the crimes, but they are both there.
So let's talk about the sort of sorry state of of his campaign right now, which I mean, that press conference was Donald Trump sort of flailing for some kind of a message about Joe Biden, about himself, about his presidency. It is clearly not working. We know that not just because of the polls, but because he did fire his campaign manager or demote his campaign manager last night, Brad Pascal. Now he stays on as the digital person. And Bill Stepien is who is the deputy campaign manager, is now the campaign manager.
What do you think about Trump firing pass? They're going to they're going to fix everything.
It seems like it will not fix everything because the problem it like that press restroom's with the macrocosm.
He has no argument for himself, no argument against Biden, and no real connection to the reality of what the country is facing.
Like I would say, that's no, that's number one. And I'd say see the biggest problem. I think it does. It's an interrelated set of problems.
But, you know, you said, you know, we always say Trump, it was crazy. He said these crazy things.
And it has certainly been a large part of our lives over the last four years.
Now, since we've been doing podcast together, one presidential term of podcasts. God help us.
Is that, you know, Trump just crazy things we dunk on when we make fun of him. And we do that and it's OK to laugh at him because you can laugh or you can cry.
But what's different this time is the context, right? He's doing this at a time in which corona virus cases are spiking where, you know, eight hundred people are dying a day in some cases who lost their job.
And so ultimately, the problem is Trump, not Brad Parker, Skyler, Bill Stepien or anyone else. And politics is sometimes quite simple. And Trump is losing because Trump is a shitty president. Millions people have lost their jobs and hundred thirty US people are dead. Full stop. It's not about ads. It's not about message. That is the big problem. And he needs a solution to fix that problem, which is much bigger than Brad Prescott.
Well, let's talk about what that solution could possibly be. I mean, you and I talk about this every day. You know, I'm torn over these polls. On one hand, you know, we have maintained for a long time that we are out of the prediction business. On the other hand, I do want to be honest with people listening about the state of the race right now, like what I think is important.
Look at these polls not as a prediction of what might happen in November, but a signal that what Donald Trump is doing right now, his campaign strategy is not working. What Joe Biden is doing is working, at least right now. What do you think Donald Trump could potentially do to make this race tighter?
Oh, first, my very important caveat about no predictions. And I want to be very clear that I am a glass one tenth empty kind of guy.
Right. That's my approach generally. And and I guess that's why that's why I said that's why I said the best polls around all the time to you, just to sort of poke you a little bit.
I almost put in the outline that when you were saying when you say Araz or the revised schedule last night about some of these polls, I almost pointed out this would be the part RHI drizzled on your parade because I can't fully rein on what's going hot.
But I think Donald Trump's political fate is primarily centered around things that are beyond his control.
He needs to get a hand on the front of our eyes, which he has some control over, certainly like wearing a mask and doing his job. The bare minimum of his job would help. The economy is going to drive this. Some well down Trump needs to do is he has to do his job. He needs to get lucky because he needs things to look better in the country. And he needs to find a message that goes right at why a significant number of people who.
Either vote for Trump 2016 or reproved of him just a few months ago. Now support Joe Biden.
And right now he has no plan to do any of those things.
Yeah, I think partly because Trump won unexpectedly in 2016. There is this view of Trump that he is that he has some sort of magic powers, that he's Teflon, right.
That he defies the laws of political gravity.
And so everyone's sort of waiting for like is is is Trump going to define Joe Biden in some very damaging way? Is Trump going to pull some trick out of his hat, too?
And I think I don't know what will happen in November, but I think that none of that is what's going to ultimately help him.
What's going to help him is doing his job and controlling the pandemic, because that is the main issue on everyone's mind. Look at poll after poll after poll. What is the issue you're most concerned about? And right up there is either the the economy and then and the pandemic are like the number one and two issues. And, of course, they're interrelated. Which Donald Trump also does not understand.
But even as we're looking at some of the polls from yesterday, like the Quinnipiac poll, you know, the number one issue for people was the economy. But Biden is now winning that issue 50 to 45. We have talked about a lot in the pod before that that has not happened yet. That Trump strengthen the economy is sort of the one thing he was holding onto. You wrote a memo about this number two issue for people is the coronavirus, and they trust Biden over Trump on that by 59 to 35.
Trump cannot win with those numbers like that. And so he can win. But in order to win, he has to have people start trusting him more on handling the corona virus.
And he has to sort of win back and strengthen the economy.
And to do that. He actually has to get the virus under control and sort of do something to give people a little bit more faith in his capacity to govern. If he does that, I could see the race tightening up. If he doesn't, I don't think I can see that.
I think that all of that is true. And if the conditions on the ground do not get better, whether he has a good message on Biden, a good message for himself is less relevant. He needs to get it close enough that then campaign tactics and messaging can truly matter. Now, just the thing I think we just have to remind ourselves every day, remind our listeners, is through the lack of wisdom of our founders, we are basically spotting Trump four to five points.
So if you look at a national poll and say Biden's up 10. How is Trump going to get. He's going to come back 10 points. Trump doesn't have to do that. And he there's no way he can do that. If Trump gets the race between four and five points, he has a pretty good shot at pulling off an Electoral College victory like in 2016.
And so a 10 point lead.
So can I just can I just press you on that for for one minute? Because, like, that's I've always thought that was true.
If you look at the polling averages right now, he's about about nine points nationally. But then in some of these in the three swing states, the three easiest swing states for Joe Biden to flip from 2016 and to thus win the presidency would be Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.
We've talked about this, and it looks like Biden is also leading, at least according to the polling averages now in those three states, by seven to nine point seven points in Wisconsin and closer to nine points in Michigan and Pennsylvania, which surprise me or surprises me because I thought that that's sort of a narrower difference between those swing states and the national number than I thought there would be.
Yes. And like I almost texted you this yesterday, but I thought it would be way too on Brand for me, which is when we were looking at the Pennsylvania poll, the Monmouth poll offense, Virginia, which is 53 40 Biden. I think that it's just there is no math where Biden is up 10 nationally and up 13 in Pennsylvania. That does not work under light as we understand demographic groups. Now, the thing we have to ratchet doesn't 16 was the national polls were correct.
The state polls were wrong right now.
And the weighting, the weighting of demographic groups and turnout models matters much more in state polls. So it is very possible that, you know, this seven point lead in Wisconsin is closer to five. Right. If you if it's weighted appropriately and if that is the case, that fits within the context of the Electoral College events we think Trump has now.
It is also possible that because Biden is so over performing among white voters and older voters, that he is sort of alluding that trap by doing very well with voters that are disproportionately represented in those Midwest battleground states, which could explain why the margin in Arizona is much smaller on average in these polls than in these Midwest battleground states.
Where could because Biden is in many of these polls, underperforming among that next voters. And so and that's it.
So I don't think we know the full answer. I think we should just operate as if Trump has this popular.
Though disadvantage, I say we'll talk Electoral College advantage because honestly, if it turns out that that does not exist and Biden wins these states by as much as his popular vote margin, like, you know what?
Whatever I say, I say I was wrong. That's high. Well, look, I mean, I saw Jen O'Malley, Dillon, Biden's campaign manager, say this. And I don't think Jen's just sort of saying this to sort of set expectations in the right way, that she's like they have always expected the race to get tighter in the fall. And I think partly it's because where you see Biden over performing among sort of older white voters, among non, you know, white voters in general, noncollege white voters, too.
These are groups that are traditionally Republican, traditionally Trump voters.
And as we get closer to the fall, polarization in the electorate will sort of naturally bring these people back to the Republican column. And so Biden's lead among these voters right now is maybe not as sure as you would want because they're not dependable Democratic voters.
Right. And whenever your lead is based on not dependable Democratic voters, you know, you should still be fairly cautious. So, Tasos, that's a note of caution for me.
It's also Biden's at what is probably close to his ceiling. So you look at Pennsylvania, right? So let's say that the Monmouth polls. Correct? Right. That Biden is at 53. Obama got fifty four and a half in 2008, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a more Republican state now than it was good of demographic changes. So it's I find it hard to imagine that Biden is going to exceed Obama's fifty four and a half in that state, which means.
So you're at 53 40, which means you have seven percent. That is unallocated presume one percent of that goes to third party, given that's generally what third parties have gotten.
So you can take a bunch of that that other vote allocated to Trump, which means it's not 53 40. It's 53 48. Right. Which is a much closer race, but still a huge win. So, yeah, we. There are a couple of narratives to be where coming up. One is Trump's going to go up in the polls.
He's probably not going to do it if he may not be doing at the expense of Biden.
He may be doing it just simply by getting some of his vote or getting some of the undecideds to who are his people, their 2016 Trump voters who were just disillusioned by the complete cluster fuck that is the country.
And so that's one narrative and asking me the Trump comeback narrative. We saw that with Obama and Romney and 12 when we were winning by margins large. And we would McCain about like you see this every time we saw it with Clinton, Trump, and we made the same point. It didn't work out so well, but two out of three is not bad.
But then the other narrative that we should be prepared for is Bill Stepien is now campaign manager. And I read with great amusement today and some stories that Bill Stepien has great skill as candidate management, which is so funny because he's worked for Trump for like four years now.
And so bang up job bill. He's got to get those tweets under control any day now.
Well, I think what is very possible to happen, because Trump has had so many turnovers, both in his first campaign and his White House, that what always happens is Trump gets rid of someone, someone new comes in, and then Trump like doesn't tweet for three days.
And then we get 75 glowing profiles of the new person in charge. And how the story you know, you can see the headlines now. How did Bill Stepien tame Trump's Twitter account?
Like you remember the when everyone wrote stories about how John Kelly did the most basic ideas, like making people write things down in meetings, things like that, so that that is coming. There is like the reason you fight your campaign manager is one, because your first campaign manager sucks. The other reason is you need a circuit breaker on your bad narrative and a new campaign manager gives you a chance to have that.
Yeah, I will say that. I think that's going to be a harder to get that reset narrative in the middle of the pandemic.
But again, like stepping back from all of our like, you know, digging into the demographics of polls here, the president said states is on the wrong side of almost every issue that the public cares about right now in a big way.
You know, like by 71 to 26 percent, people think everyone should be required to wear facemasks in public. That is not like a Republican versus Democrat. Polarized nation debate as sometimes the media makes it out to be. It is a 71 26 debate.
Right. Until like even even on his white grievance politics.
Right. Which he tried to kick up in a CBS interview before his crazy press conference. He was he responded to a question about why black Americans are dying at the hands of law enforcement by saying, quote, So are white people, more white people, by the way, in the same interview, Trump also said, I know people like the Confederate flag and they're not thinking about slavery. I just think it's freedom of speech.
You know, Quinnipiac poll asks about Confederate symbols, 54 to 40 people say they support removing Confederate statues, 51 42 support renaming military bases named after Confederate generals. Fifty six percent say the Confederate flag more as a symbol of racism. So even on the white grievance politics, that basically helped him win in 2016 in the Electoral College. The public is sort of against him on even that base issue for him.
I think it's not even even with the white gravies politics.
I think it's especially the white grievance politics because. Right.
He was beginning to suffer from coronavirus mismanagement when the the protests after the murder of George FOID happened and the way Trump responded to that supercharge his political downfall because it sort of told you everything that you did not like about Trump. And he he is operating his entire campaign around a world that does not exist anymore. Right. Where Black Lives Matter is accepted among the large swaths of population, including the numbers of Republicans. The fact that the Confederate flag is now seen as a sign of prejudice among Republican voters as well as Democratic voters or a majority of the country and Mississippi state legislature.
Yes, I think if you were to the right of Mississippi Republicans on race, you've probably done something wrong.
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Meanwhile, back on Earth, Democratic candidate for President Joe Biden is just running a normal campaign. He's doing events. He's given speeches. He's rolling out policy.
And it turns out he's rolling out some really ambitious policy, especially around climate, where he released a two trillion dollar plan this week that's focused on creating jobs through investment in clean energy. And the construction of sustainable infrastructure. Plan draws heavily on the Unity Task Force recommendations developed with Bernie Sanders allies and includes goals like 100 percent carbon free electricity by 2035, a million green auto jobs, the creation of a civilian climate corps which Jay Inslee originally proposed zero emission public transportation in cities with more than 100000 people much more.
Here's a clip of Joe Biden delivering a speech about his climate plan.
Here we are now with an economy in crisis, but with an incredible opportunity not just to build back to where we were before, but better, stronger, more resilient and more prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. And there's no more consequential challenge that we must meet in the next decade. And the onrushing climate crisis.
Left unchecked, it is literally an existential threat to the health of our planet and our very survival.
That's up for dispute, Mr. President. When Donald Trump thinks about climate change. The only word he can muster is Hoke's. When I think about climate change. Word, I think, of his jobs. Dan, you've been part of many a climate plan rollout in your time. What have you. What do you think? Abidance? I'm fascinated by it on a number of levels.
One. I'm glad he did it. Just like Biden's original climate plan was obviously the most progressive climate plan of any Democratic nominee.
And he went much further here, which is, you know, I think we're both you and I want our our Democratic Party to be. So I think that's good.
I think it's interesting because it tells us a couple of things that I think are pretty encouraging about Biden in this campaign.
Like as we just spent the last few minutes cautiously talking about, Biden is winning. And candidates can look at it at being in a strong position, one of two ways they can see their lead in the polls as a disincentive for risk or permission to be bold. And this is Biden being bold because despite the like all of our concerns and the narratives after Bernie dropped out.
Biden has unified the Democratic Party. He is not there is not this huge swath of Bernie or Warren voters who are unwilling to support Biden. To the credit of Biden, Bernie and Warren and everyone else, the party is unified. So he did not need to do this from a defensive political position.
He he does something bold. And I think that speaks well of the kind of campaign he's running and the, you know, and hopefully and the kind of present he would be. And he made he made a lot of progressive's, especially on climate and climate activists. Happy the Sunrise movements. Varshney Prakash, who is a member of the task force, said that Biden's plan addresses many of the criticisms that people within the environmental movement had of his original efforts.
Julian braved noise of data for Progress, a progressive think tank that we work with sometimes. He said this to Slate about the plan.
Joe Biden endorsed a green New Deal, in our view, substantially, which is, you know, that's that's pretty big.
That's pretty big. Why do you think Biden made his plan more ambitious and progressive, knowing, like you just said, that he didn't have to politically?
The context has changed. Right. He like Biden. When he when he got in this race, it was really a lot of his message and his sort of political reason for being was to return to pre 2016 normals. That is not available to us as a country anymore because of the Corona virus and the ensuing economic crisis.
So I think he now sees his role. I mean, he's talked about this, right. And people want to talk about it. This is more FDR than sort of keeper of the flame. Right. And so it's bold. And we'll talk about this, that it has a real tie in to what fixing the economy looks like. So I think it you know, and I think it is to. You know, his credit that he went down this path, and I think to the credit of all of these activists who fought so hard for the greedy and everything else who recognize that Biden didn't give them everything he wanted.
Like, there's not a ban on fracking in here. But he went a long way and they they recognize the benefits of their activism and push for this. And I promise you, one like Zen, like Biden gets to walk in the White House and just pick out his pen and make this law. There's going to be a lot of work on this, a lot of pushing. And I think it is a sign of true good faith or opportunity for progressive activists that it has worked on climate and can work on other things going forward.
I also think I think the politics around climate have changed significantly since, you know, Barack Obama proposed a cap and trade plan in 2009.
I think that is a testament to progressive activists, to young people who have pushed this to the forefront of the agenda. It's also due to the fact that we are seeing the devastating effects of climate change like in our lives all the time now.
So if you look at polls and data, progress has some great polling. So go check that out. But all kinds of polls, there's just a lot more Americans. You know, it's not 50 percent. It's up to 60 percent.
It's two thirds of Americans who want bold action on climate from the federal government. And so he sort of has a political context that has changed here that I don't think we didn't have the benefit of back in 2009. I also think the other thing is a lot of states have sort of taken action on their own over the last several years.
So basically having this mandate that we have to generate 100 percent carbon free electricity by 2035. You've seen other states in the country, even redder states like Montana put in place these rules since, you know, over over the last several years.
And so a lot of these states have led. And so, you know, some of Biden's plan is basically scaling up what we've seen in cities and states across the United States already.
You are correct. The political context has changed. I think there are some pitfalls that we should talk about, about that local context.
But the primary realization of that change is that is that the Democrats are now unified on climate. Might the reason that cap and trade cannot get through the Senate was because there were a whole bunch of Democrats who were from coal producing states or oil producing states who vehemently oppose that sort of climate legislation.
And now that unanimity is a product of two things. One, changing opinions. Right. You have Ohio senators who like Sherrod Brown, who are from a coal producing state, who are supportive of like real important climate action. But it's also because geographic sorting among partisanship. Right. Like in 2009, Obama had two senators in Louisiana. He had two senators in West Virginia, senator in Alaska, like every place that where huge fossil fuel producing parts of the country.
There were Democrats. Those Democrats have all lost their seats and were now much more centered around other parts of the country. So it's a little bit of two things happening at one time.
And Republicans still are still rubble and voters are still very skeptical of climate. And while Democrats have moved a long way, more Republican voters have moved very little in the last decade. And you still have, I think, according to Pew earlier this year, a quarter of Republican voters who think climate change is a hoax. So one in four Republican voters looks at our melting fucking planet and thinks it's not happening. Now, these are probably also I bet they're the Venn diagram of the climate change deniers in the non mass is like right in the circle.
Yeah, you're not moving those people on anything. So the Trump campaign was pretty excited to go after Biden's plan. They said, quote, It's more like a socialist manifesto that promises to massively raise taxes, eliminate jobs in the coal, oil or natural gas industries and crush the middle class. He's pushing extreme policies that would smother the economy just when it's showing signs of roaring back. You know, that's that. Those are all the signs I see roaring back economy.
Could this attack from the Trump campaign be effective right now?
No. I mean, like, I hate to say it that way, because in a close race, you only have to move a few voters at a state for it to matter. So could it matter, right? Yes. Is it likely to be massively consequential? No. And it does it the fact that Biden moved Trump would have said all those exact same things at his illegal Rose Garden press conference if Biden had stayed closer to his original plan than the bolder plan, which, by the way, is such an important realization over these last several years in general that we've been talking about, about progressive policy.
Right. That like the Republicans are going to say, we are socialists who want to kill jobs and raise taxes no matter what we propose, even if it's the most center left type policy.
And so that's not a reason alone to propose an ambitious progressive policy.
But it should not be a reason that you avoid doing that's an effective political tax only work if they are believable and fit with a narrative that is already understood by voters.
And so some of the speculation about the political dangers of the Green New Deal originates from how the Trump campaign was able to weaponize Hillary Clinton's comments about coal miners in 2016.
But that was not about climate that fit within a larger narrative about her being in a league with with disdain for working class people, which was you wouldn't believe that to be the case, but that is how it fit. It wasn't really about climate politics. It was said elite politician looking down their nose at working people, which only work as it fit with the deplorable comments and a bunch of, you know, 30 years of Republican caricatures of Hillary Clinton.
That is a harder case to make against Biden. Yeah, it just as. So Biden really framed this as sort of an economic plan as well. And I thought Eric Levitz had an interesting piece in New York magazine about this, saying that Biden's policy, quote, doesn't just represent a more substantively ambitious response to the climate crisis.
It also establishes massive green investment is the cornerstone of his vision for economic recovery and that he clearly views this as a governing priority.
What did you think of that? I thought it was a very, very smart take from Eric Levitz, who I think is very, very smart. And it is a good reason for optimism.
If you sort of boil down what I think Eric means by it is. Joe Biden and the Democrats are going to in order to respond as economic crises are going to have to put in place a massive jobs program. And in fact, that Biden is centering his jobs program around the exact same things that will help deal with our climate crisis and move us to his new, more aggressive emissions goal. Is a sign that he is going to do sort of two birds with one stone here.
Right. It's not going to be a bunch of sort of random infrastructure jobs or public works programs that aren't connected decline.
And so tying those two things together, like you sort of think about legislation in Congress as the number of trains leaving the station, because we know that the appetite, the political will for big action in Congress is pretty limited.
And the one thing that we believe, assuming the Democrats do the right things, are things like the filibuster, everything else is that one of the first things they will do with the economy looks like we think it looks like it's going to be a huge version of what the Recovery Act from 2009, a massive economic relief bill. And if that is tied to real investment in dealing with climate, that means where we have a real chance of getting climate done because we do him separately.
You spend all this political capital on the economy and then you try to come back and do cap and trade or, you know, our other aspect of the Biden plan later. It's gonna be much harder to do that.
I mean, the irony here is the reason it was called the Green New Deal, which it was labeled far before we ever had a pandemic and a recession was to draw an explicit connection to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, which was a, you know, very ambitious, the most ambitious in history, sort of public works, public spending program to get the economy moving in the midst of a depression in history.
And the idea is we're going to do what FDR did with the New Deal in the Great Depression, except we're going to make sure that the investment is in sustainable infrastructure, clean energy, jobs and all the rest. And now Joe Biden is facing probably the biggest economic crisis since FDR was president. And if he takes office, we'll be facing that and we'll need a very ambitious jobs and economic plan to pull the country out of recession. And I think that, like, you know, the green New Deal immediately, you know, Fox News turned it into fucking, you know, farting cows and hamburgers.
But I always I hope we thought that it was very smart politics to talk about a climate plan as fundamentally a jobs and economic plan, because I think that is a that is a smarter political way to sell it to people that it's not. You know, people care deeply about the climate. They also care about their own livelihoods. They care about jobs. They care about good jobs. And especially they care about that now. And will, if Joe Biden wins and takes office in the midst of this recession.
And so for Joe Biden to say, you know, Joe Biden's going to a lot of economic plans, I'm sure if he if he steps into office in January. But I think for him to be able to say my big sweeping, ambitious economic plan is to transform this nation, to transform our energy, to move towards a clean energy future and do it in a way that creates millions of good paying jobs, not just for people sort of constructing things, but for engineers, but for scientists.
And like there are so many jobs and so many different sectors that will be created through a clean energy transformation in this country. And I think it's it's just a very smart political move.
What makes it harder for Republicans to oppose these measures when they are tied to dealing with the, you know, 10 million Americans who are unemployed because of the pandemic related recession? Right. That's exactly right. So one one other notable campaign development this week was the appearance of a Joe Biden for president television ad in the state of Texas. Let's take a listen to that.
I'm thinking all of you today across Texas. You know, the rise in case numbers is causing fear and apprehension. People are frightened. They're especially worried about their parents, their grandparents, loved ones who are most at risk. This virus is tough, but Texas is tougher. We can stop the spread. It's up to all of us to do it. We have to step up and do both the simple things and the hard things to keep our families and our neighbors safe.
Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay home if you can. A socially distance when you go out. I want every single American to know. If you're sick, if you're struggling, if you're worried about how you're going to get through the day. I will not abandon you. We're all in this together. We'll fight this together. Together, we'll emerge from this stronger than we were before we began. I'm Joe Biden and I approve this message.
So this ad went up after a New York Times story about how Democratic officials have been pressuring the Biden campaign to, quote, compete aggressively in more states. This election, officials argue, offers the provocative possibility of a new path to the presidency through fast changing states like Georgia and Texas, and a chance to install a generation of lawmakers who can cement Democratic control of Congress and help redraw legislative maps following this year's census.
Does this Texas ad mean that the Biden campaign now agrees with this assessment? Great question. We know that ad, the original by that was talked to, that started this week was about sixty five thousand dollars, according to our friends at Advertising Analytics. It was mostly it was a cable buy. There are reports this morning that buying the starting to buy broadcast TV.
And if that is the case and these are you know, you see real dollars behind that, then that means at least they're going to test the waters.
And you can do that. Right, which is you.
I imagine they pull Texas. They have a baseline poll. They may do it statewide.
They may do it within a few key media markets. And you can see, you know, does a sustained advertising campaign over a period of time move numbers?
This is a huge decision for the Biden camp.
And why is that? The world?
So take Texas and Georgia, which are the two states where people say, like Democrats, have a real opportunity.
So, Joe, in 2018 in Georgia, Stacey Abrams spent 20 million dollars on ads and another three million dollars on mail.
Now, some of that was spent in the primary, but most of it was the general. So this is a Georgias, a 20 million dollar decision for Biden if he wants to truly compete there. Texas, probably a 40 million dollar decision, at least to truly run to run a campaign there.
So, you know, Biden's fundraising is 10, 10 media markets at least. Yeah, it's I mean, these are massive states with many media markets and with expensive media. And so, like, this is a huge investment of resources.
And for all of the success that Biden has had, raising money and they announced Gentlemanly Delane, his campaign manager, announced this morning they have two hundred forty two million dollars cash on hand.
They have a quarter a billion dollars in the bank, which basically almost wipes out the Trump campaign's cash on hand advantage with money.
Yes, but that's sort of a little deceptive, right? It's incredibly impressive. But Trump has already spent has spent a year and a half building up data infrastructure, hiring. All that money is already out. The door already accounted for.
So a lot of the things that Trump was spending money on, 20, 19, Biden has to spend money on. So while they have narrowed the gap tremendously, it'd be naive of us to think that Biden has is at parity already with Trump because he's not you know, he could get there because his fundraiser has been quite strong. And I think there's some indication that Trump's is lagging as all other elements of his political life are lagging.
But it's a big decision and it's a risky decision and is it could be hugely risky decision because that 60 million dollars that's coming out of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina to pick six states that listeners could adopt. Well, so let's talk about the risks associated with this decision. Here's what our good pal David Axelrod tweeted about The New York Times story, which, of course, came before this.
This ad buy first rule of presidential campaign planning lockdown the states you must have by making sure your operations and ads are funded there for duration. Then you expand to more ambitious targets. That's not cautious. It's smart. And before you commit to compete for a state, you better be clear about what the cost of competing to win that state would be. Texas, Ohio and Georgia are all large states with expensive and extensive media markets. Half assed efforts are a waste of resources.
What you think? I mean, I agree with that.
I mean, obviously, because we we studied at that political wisdom for four years before he was a hack on tap. He was just our boss.
But, you know, a lot of people responded to that tweet from Axe and said no, because a lot of them tagged us, tagged us in the response.
So thank you people saying, well, that's not what Obama did in 08, because to be clear, Obama took the Kerry 20, 20, 2004 map and expanded it to it because we competed aggressively in Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri. And we flipped three of those four states. And people when we started competing in those states, people thought we were insane. Right.
Democrat of Virginia, everyone sees Virginia as like a safe blue state now. In 2008, there was nothing safe about Virginia as a super blue state at all.
But what is different, I think an important note is that although Virginia is not cheap, in North Carolina is not cheap.
Indiana is cheaper and Missouri somewhat expensive. But we also had a massive, massive fundraising advantage over McCain. Obama was able to make so much money that we were able to go outside the spending limits that you get from matching funds. And so we had money to play with. And there's sort of two ways to think about the math, right?
There is like, how do you get to 270, which is Axelrod's point, which is right.
Like, if you have determined with all of your analysis, experience and data that's going to take X million dollars to win the states, you need to get to 270. And you have more than X, you can go spend that elsewhere, which is what we did, because at some point there are the ads are diminishing returns. You can't hire more field organizers. You can't run more ads. So you have that extra money. Now you want as many paths to 270 as possible.
Particularly now, because what we just do not know in our coronavirus electoral world is let's say you're depending on Wisconsin to get you over the 270 mark like that is your news. What happens if that becomes a corona virus hotspot at the end and you can't vote in person in Milwaukee? Right. We will lose that state. What happens if there's a massive screw up with mail balloting in Pennsylvania? Because they're doing it for the first time in the general and a whole bunch of people don't get their ballots, you know, in the city of Philadelphia or in the suburbs about like because of the unpredictable nature.
You want those paths. But can you afford those pass? And that's a really tough question for the Biden campaign to make, because this is not adding Montana right. With one media market. This is adding two of the most expensive states in the entire union to your to your map.
Well, I also think there's additional considerations besides the presidential race that may be part of the play here. Like I you know, I heard our friends at Hack's on tap talking about this this week. And Mark McKinnon, who has obviously spent a lot of time in Texas politics, you know, his point was, this is crazy. If you're if you're Joe Biden and you're winning Tef, you get to the point where you're winning Texas. You've already won the Electoral College just because of demographics.
Right. And so if you're winning Texas, that means that you've probably won Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, and, you know, the state that's super expensive to play in that you want to plan because it's going to be closer and you have an easier shot to win. Is Florida right? So I get all that, too.
And demographically, as you're looking at the states, you're most likely to win. And what is that tipping point state that's going to put you over 270? Texas and Georgia are not going to be those tipping point states at all. But as The New York Times alludes to in that story, it is possible that we can flip the Texas legislature. We have a Senate race in Texas. We have two Senate races in Georgia. There is redistricting coming up where in a number of states flipping legislatures could give us the power to redraw the maps to lock in majorities in Congress for the next generation.
Joe Biden as president with a Republican Senate is a world different than Joe Biden as president with a Democratic Senate. And in many ways, like even if if Joe Biden wins and we have a Republican Senate. Thank God Donald Trump is gone. But life is going to be incredibly difficult. And there's gonna be it's gonna be incredibly difficult to pass almost any progressive legislation. We're talking about an ambitious climate plan. There's almost no climate plan that will pass if Joe Biden is the president and Mitch McConnell is running the Senate still.
So I do think like and part of this is on like everyone who is listening to the podcast right now, like donate every last fucking dollar you can to Joe Biden into the Senate races, into everywhere else, because if we if Democrats basically have this massive financial advantage, sort of like the one you were talking about that we had in 2008, it's going to be easier to start for the Biden campaign to start competing in Texas and Georgia and some of these other places.
And by the way, when the Biden campaign decides to compete and spend that money, that helps Democrats down ballot, which is why I'm talking about this, that sort of helps all Democrats in the state, in their races just by having more attention from the presidential campaign in that state.
So I do think, like, you know, I I would be you know, I'd be worried if I thought the Biden campaign was like, we're going to play in Texas, but Michigan's covered. We got it. You know, I don't think they're doing that. If they're doing that, that's bad. But I do think that, like, yeah, they should spend every last penny. Competing in as many places as possible. Right. That's that's a brilliant strategic advice.
But I do think that's what they should do.
So a couple of things on that. One is. I agree with what you're saying about the importance of the Democratic Party investing all of these states rights, the 50 state strategy, we've been talking about it for decades in this party. We rarely implement it.
But the other play to win or you don't play at all, because if you're not going to spend enough money to actually put the state in play, then you're wasting money.
Right now, a show by here is a test vote, you know, money to test the waters or a show by four media narrative and do that. In 2008, we did a show buy in Arizona to show we were expanding out to Arizona, mainly just to fuck with John McCain. But we didn't act. We didn't spend a lot of money. Like, that's fine. Right.
But if you're like if it's going take 40 million dollars to win, don't spend five million dollars playing around there. Right. Like, that's five dollars wasted.
And it's also, you know, donors. There are limits to what people can give. Right. And so Biden isn't the only place to make investments in these states. Right. You have Senate candidates in Georgia. You have MJ Hager who just won the runoff in Texas going against John Cornyn. Any contribution or her helps put Texas in play you a better O'Rourke's organization by the people, which has been trying to flip the legislature. But just today it announced was expanding to statewide operations, is was just focusing on target districts.
And so there are lots of places that you can you know, you can make real investments there that don't only happen through by now.
The thing that I think would be interesting for the Biden folks to do, which is this also is going to seem crazy given where we are, maybe not.
But there were real questions about whether Obama should play in Florida in 2008 because we lost in 2000. Bush had won it pretty easily in 04. There was a sense it was moving dramatically away from Democrats.
And like Texas and Georgia, a huge investment of resources, right. Ton of media markets, very expensive, gigantic state.
And what Pluff did or campaign manager in that campaign was he did a. He wrote a memo and did a presentation on it where he detailed for our donors. And I don't mean like the big rich donors, I mean everyone on her e-mail list, what it would take to win Florida. Here's how much it's going to cost. Somebody organized. We're gonna have to hire.
Remember this very clearly because you were too high ranking a writer to ever edit plus memos.
So I added this one and rejected every single one of my edits, every one of them. But like, I think it be interesting for them to do to lay that out for their supporters what it takes to win Georgia or Texas and see if there's accurate if.
Yeah, right. And like I said, I think for everyone who's listening, who can give, especially the wealthier people who are listening, who may be big Democratic donors, I don't know who listens.
I think that we are in an environment where, because of Trump's approval right now, because of the pandemic, because of the recession, because of just the political climate in general. Democrats have an opportunity to possibly not just beat Donald Trump, but to sort of crush the Republican Party under Trump right now.
And I don't know that you get that opportunity every four years or every two years. And so if you were thinking about giving, now is the time to give every last dollar you can possibly give. Because I do think, like, you know, having Joe Biden winning and then possibly having a Democratic Senate Democratic House could set Democrats up and progressive legislation up for success for quite some time. You know, I just think, like, the stars are all aligned on some of this stuff now.
And so some of the stuff we're talking about, the tough decisions that people that the Biden campaign is going to make about money are going to be easier decisions. The more that people give, that's just just the way it is.
And the same goes for volunteering, right. They need X number of volunteers in the battleground states. And if you can exceed that number, then you can start having people volunteer in Texas, Georgia. And one of the features, I guess it's the only feature of the pandemic is because so much is happening digitally, is that you can you don't have to be in Texas or certain a volunteer in those states. You have to get on a plane and go to them.
You can if you are volunteering X number of hours a week, you get some portion of that can end up in Texas and Georgia. If the Biden campaign has enough to meet their volunteer quotas for the battleground states with the current set of battlegrounds, it's absolutely. OK. When we come back, we'll have my interview with Dr. Abdul El-Sayed about his interview with Tony Foushee.
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On the pod today, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is the host of the cricket media podcast America Dissected. His book, Healing Politics is Out Now. Abdoul, welcome back to the show. Thanks for having me, John. So you interviewed one of your personal heroes on America dissected this week. Dr Tony Foushee, fascinating interview. Everyone should check it out. I found it especially interesting that Foushee has been doing a lot more interviews recently, even as Trump in the White House are trying to both silence him and publicly attack him.
What does it say to you that he's he's still speaking out now, maybe even more than ever?
Well, Tony Foushee, like you said, he's a is a legend. I remember in med school opening up my infectious disease textbook and one of the authors was Anthony Foushee. Guy's been around for a long time. He's been in this role for 32 years. To put that in perspective, I was three when he became director of the NIAID, and he is a public servant, consummate public servant. You don't do this work unless you believe deeply in the work.
And so, you know, Doctor, about you realizes that we are in the middle of a pandemic. That his responsibility is not to the president. He serves the people of the United States and he recognizes that his best service right now is publicly communicating about the severity of where we are and what we need to do to take it on. And if the White House is going to block his access to the platforms that he traditionally should have because of his stature and his leadership and his knowledge, then he's going to find other opportunities which, you know, worked in our favor.
Because when I reached out to him, his team reach right back out and said, you know what? This is a podcast, focus on Corona virus. Of course, I'll jump on in. And we had a great conversation about where we are in this pandemic and where we need to go. The message hasn't changed. The other thing that I'll say is, you know, you and I both share a bit of an understanding of the inner workings of a complex bureaucracy.
And Dr. Fowkes, he's been along around for a long time. He understands how this thing works. So, you know, he understands that he's going to be able to leverage these platforms to make news and that the people need to hear from him.
Yeah. In fact, he's probably safer the more public he is.
In some ways, that that Trump knows that his with his you know, the number of people who trust Foushee over Trump, which is significant, kind of gives him a little running room to speak out. And he's doing it a smart way, I think. Did anything in the interview surprise you or what stuck with you the most?
There were a couple of moments for me that were both surprising. But but but also in hindsight. Spot on. Number one, we talked about the challenge of the the decision to to both in the beginning of the pandemic to message that masks were not something that the general public should be wearing. And what went wrong in the communication and why it changed? And, you know, at the end of the day, the hard part about messaging in the middle of a fast moving pandemic for which you have very little science, because, of course, we didn't know Corona virus existed six months ago, seven months ago, is that you're constantly trying to make decisions in an evolving space of science.
And as the science changes, you have to change your positioning. And that's exactly what happened. But he admitted that it was a mistake and that we should have been a lot smarter about protecting the fact that at some point the science could change. But early on in the pandemic, the need to make sure that that that professionals on the front lines who were involved with caring for symptomatic patients needed that PPE more than the general public did. Considering that at that point, we didn't know that asymptomatic spread was a thing.
And so we thought, well, you know, if you're not being exposed to symptomatic people every day, then you probably don't need a mask. And of course, we were wrong and we should've been a lot more thoughtful early on in the pandemic that the science might change on that. The second point that I thought was really quite profound was the fact that, you know, I asked him. You've worked for a lot of administrations. And, you know, it's funny with Anthony Fauci, you don't really know where he sits on the political spectrum like his political party of science.
But I asked him, you know, you by nature of having served with four under six presidents, there has to be some presidents that you disagree with. And have you ever thought about just walking away? And he said, no, the work is too important. And the other point that you made, I think, John, in the last Pod Save America episode, I think was spot on.
Like, if you're President Trump, why in God's name are you trying to undermine a guy whose general approval in the public is super high in the middle of a pandemic like. It makes no sense. I just don't understand the politics of it. And I think Falchi also understands that it makes no sense and he's going to end up winning this. This this disagreement. Yeah.
I mean, the politics from Trump's view of this is he has been hoping since the beginning that if he, like, closes his eyes and puts his fingers in his ears, that the pandemic will go away.
Right. Like, the more he talks about it, the more he acknowledges it. He thinks that makes it real for people and that somehow it's not real for people. If he just if Tony Foushee isn't speaking, if Donald Trump isn't giving these press conferences every day, which is fucking absurd.
Ostrich public health policy. Yeah. I mean, it's interesting what you said about the masks, too, because, you know, I've been thinking about this a lot since the beginning of the pandemic.
It must be such a challenge in public health because so much of public health is communication. And, you know, you and I have have been in politics and you're thinking about how to message things and how to make sure that you let the public know what the truth is. But you know that if you change your mind or you change the message, that you could get penalized for that. And that's just the way sort of politics and communications works. But the health side of public health is based on science and science changes and it grows and it evolves.
And I imagine it must be. And, you know, you've obviously been in public health for a long time. It must be one of the central challenges of that field to sort of both do the political communication side of this and sort of evolve with the science and change with the science.
Yeah, I'll say a couple of things about that. In most circumstances, public health professionals are trained to just interpret the science and develop a message that is true to the science because we take it for granted that politicians are going to do what's right. Based on that science and I think this is one of the first moments where on a grand scale, public health professionals are realizing that it's not enough just to interpret the science, that we also have to be very smart about messaging because we can't leave it to the politicians to do what's right.
And the second point is that, you know, action, when it comes to stopping a pandemic or preventing a public health disaster in general takes two forms. The first is informing public policy, which are the things that government uniquely can do. And then the second is informing people about the things that they can do to protect themselves. And the hard part is that when you're pushing a message, you have to do both at the same time. And sometimes, like when it comes to masks, the government has a real responsibility of protecting the people who are most vulnerable and most critical to being able to care for folks.
That's why it was so important that health care workers had PPE on the front lines, because if they're getting sick, then our hospital capacity goes to zilch. And of course, our whole goal there was to flatten the curve to make sure that there was enough space and ventilators and beds in our hospitals to care for people. And if all of a sudden the nurses and the doctors and the staff that you need to do that are gone. It doesn't matter how many ventilators or hospital beds you have because the people who are there caring for them are sick.
And so getting people out to those folks was critical from a government imperative. And at the same time, we should have been able to tell people, look, a cloth mask is something that you could wear. Right at this point, the science isn't there on telling us whether or not it's effective. And that's the mistake that was made, is that we in trying to protect PPE for the critical folks who are necessary to be able to run our hospitals and take care of people who were getting sick in massive numbers, we allowed the message to veer into, well, masks aren't useful anyway.
And that was the big mistake. And so public health professionals now on the front lines with the responsibility to message both to policymakers and to the public, have to realize that you're you're saying one word that's being interpreted by two very different groups of people. And you have to be really thoughtful about making sure that you're not you're not allowing any group of people to misinterpret it. And as you're, you know, messaging a scientific truth, reality that is changing over time as we learn more.
It's an extremely complex thing to do. I will say there is nobody better in America at doing it than Anthony Foushee. And, you know, it is a testament to this moment in this pandemic that it is so hard to do that somebody who is as good at doing it as Dr. Foushee has made mistakes. And they know. The important thing to remember, though, is mistakes or lack of knowledge are not the same thing as lying and distrust.
And so folks who will point to, you know, things that public health professionals have said back in January when it was an evolving picture and we didn't have the science that we have now. Right. Doesn't mean that people are lying to you. It just means that we didn't know enough to be able to tell you what would become the truth after science took its process.
So, you know, you and I could sit here and talk forever about all the ways that Donald Trump has fucked up and continues to fuck up the response to this crisis. I'm in Los Angeles right now. Like, we were one of the first major cities to issue a stay at home order. Carcetti Marikar said he issued a universal Russell Mass order on May 14th, even before they started to reopen the bars and restaurants in mid-June. We never really got our case count below like a thousand a day.
Why do you think that even some of the more cautious and restrictive cities and states have had a hard time bringing this pandemic under control?
Yeah. Unfortunately, the cynic, Quinn, on a public health is what you do before you're ever in a crisis. And if you look at where we are as a country, we are profoundly unequal, which meant that even as we, quote unquote locked down, that didn't mean lockdown for everybody. That meant lockdown for people like you and I who can discuss, you know, complex topics behind a computer screen for a lot of folks who are essential, the people who are most at risk of both getting the virus and dying of the virus, they were expected to go back out because, of course, we invented a new word for expendable, which was essential.
And so those folks who were the most likely to get the disease in the first place were still being exposed in that moment. And so what happened is because our economic system is so profoundly unequal, because there was not enough action to keep folks at home to allow them not to have to choose between saving their lives and their family's lives or saving their livelihoods. Is that we allowed the virus to continue to spread as a function of the lack of preparation as a society that we had on net to take this on.
And then couple that with the fact that, you know, on a on a national level, we had we had done away with the pandemic response unit in. National Security Council, we had threatened funding for the CDC and state and local health departments, and we allowed what should have been a containable epidemic not to be contained. And so you have, in effect, the tinder of inequality and the exposure to which poor folks are relegated in that moment.
And then you have the spark, which is the failure to contain the epidemic in the first place. And that's what created the circumstance that we're in. And so, you know, once you have a live fire, right, you can have the best fire station and the best fire response in the world. And you're still battling an inferno. The trick is to make sure that you don't let it become an inferno in the first place. Then, of course, you know, we had packed away Tinder in the form of inequality and we had a spark in the form of disinvestment in public health.
And here we are now.
Yeah. And, you know, you can certainly see that here in Los Angeles. You know, they had a couple of public health department, a couple of charts up yesterday of sort of the positivity rate and the case count among Latinos in Los Angeles versus white folks and even black black folks. And what has been clear is the working class Latino population in Los Angeles, which includes so many of the people who were still working when the city shut down, has been hit so much harder than especially the white population of this city.
So you're right that a lot of people just didn't get to stay home. And so the virus wasn't contained. Right.
If you were running the federal response right now, what would you do? What are some of the first big, you know, major steps that you would take to sort, of course, correct here?
Yeah, I'll give you I'll give you five big actions. The first is that I would mandate masks nationwide in public places. I know that there's going to be a big backlash because, of course, the president's been sitting there and politicizing, masking, but we know that it is essential and critical to preventing. Number two, that in I would establish a very clear federal benchmark county by county in terms of case positivity per test and in terms of speed of spread.
And I would use the power of the federal government to mandate lockdowns in communities where you have runaway spread. Number three, I would be really, really investing in making sure that we have the hospital capacity that we needed in local communities that were heavily affected and making sure that, you know, all of what we had built out in the Northeast when that outbreak was as bad as it was, was moving into the states where where the outbreak is is now the worst.
And then, you know, number four, I would really, really be pushing a clear federal investment in livelihood's. We need to renew unemployment benefits that are going to expire at the end of this month because people shouldn't have to be choosing between their lives and their livelihoods. And I think that's critical. And then, you know, when it when it comes to number five, I think we've got to be building the ability to contact race and test at scale.
One of the big mistakes that we made is that we locked down. Right. And we we were able to push transmission down below a certain threshold where testing and tracing was a possible containment approach to this pandemic. But then we never built up the testing and tracing capacity that we needed. And all of a sudden, right, of course, cases started to rise again because there's no magic bullet here. This is just basic workhorse public health.
And so we've got to massively invest in contact tracing and massively invest in testing. And if we can't do that right, we are going to continue to see the saw tooth jagged, you know, increase in cases, then massive lockdown response. Then, you know, the cases come down and then everyone opens up and then everyone's like, well covered is now over, but it's not. And so those things are critical. And the messaging here is we've got to get right in.
The messaging has to be listen. There is no magic bullet. Colvard will not be over until we get to a point where we can show across the board reductions in transmission. And even then, we have to be vigilant in the way that we're going to be able to do this. Right. If you if we all want to have our economy and our freedoms and the ability to walk around and do the things that we all took for granted just six months ago, then it's going to be because we are willing to sacrifice a little bit right.
Where an uncomfortable mask, when you go out, you know, be willing to answer that call from the health department. When they tell you that you were exposed and you know you're potentially at risk and you're going to need to quarantine for 14 days. And so we can choose between, you know, these minimal kinds of losses of of our autonomy and, you know, the ability to not take for granted that covered covered is out there and then have the rest of our society.
Or we can ignore these things and choose not to abide by them and face this recurring system of shutdowns, which is so devastating to our lives and our livelihoods.
What's what's your best guess on the timeline for the development and deployment? Of of a vaccine that's going to give us most normalcy back. Yeah, I appreciate the way you ask that question, because it's not just about having, you know, in theory a vaccine that works. It's also about being able to manufacture it at a scale where we can achieve herd immunity because we can vaccine enough people. It you know, at that scale.
My best guess. And, you know, this is a best guess. This is kind of like the epidemiologic version of you asking me, asking you who's always the. Is that I hope that by the end of 2020 we have a theoretical vaccine. Probably. I'll be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if we had more than one. And then by I would say. Mid twenty twenty one, I think, you know, will have had the level of vaccination where, you know, where we can achieve the kind of herd immunity where kov it is, is no longer the dominant question about, you know, whether or not we're going to be able to move forward in the ways that we're used to as a society.
But again, this is this is like asking me who's gonna win the election.
So I'll take I'll take any good news I can get. One last thing I wanna talk to you about. You're a member of the Health Care Unity Task Force put together by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Can you walk me through some of the final recommendations you released last week that were sort of substantively different than Joe Biden's original health care plan?
Yeah. John. So for context. Right. You know, we had three Bernie Sanders appointees, of which I was one and five Biden appointees. And, you know, we came in with very dim perspectives. I believe deeply in Medicare for all. I've got a book coming out about it in February. But we also knew that this was an issue that had been litigated substantially. And we also knew that if we were to walk out into a post Kovik 19 post George Floyd Reality with a pre covered 19 plan that we would not be doing Joe Biden any services, and that was consistent and point a consensus across the board.
All eight of us agreed with that. The conversation was contentious at times. There are points at which we disagree. But we also know the clear and present danger, not just to health care in America, to democracy itself. If Donald Trump wins. And so what we were able to do was build a far more robust version of the public option that I think achieves a lot of the goals that Medicare for all advocates came into it with. Of course, it's still not Medicare for all, still not satisfied.
But it does achieve a lot of goals. It is truly public, meaning it's operated by s.m us rather than being kind of like a Medicare Advantage plan, which is, you know, sort of set up in terms of guidelines by public authorities, but operated by a private corporation. Second, it is, you know, in the context of this Cauvin 19 pandemic, extremely generous, in fact, more generous in terms of reductions in out-of-pocket costs than Medicare itself is.
And then really importantly, every public option to every individual there, there is going to be a no deductible option. Deductibles are confusing there, like the money you have to pay to unlock the money you already paid for. To get your insurance. And so everybody would have a no deductible option. And for folks earning less than 200 percent of poverty, that means people earning roughly fifty two thousand dollars a year for a family of four. They're automatically enrolled and it is free.
There are no premiums. All that comes with it are the out-of-pocket costs. And then beyond that, one of the big wins. I think the thing that I'm most proud of is that right now it is public policy in America that Medicare, which is the single biggest buyer of prescription drugs, can't negotiate the price of those drugs with corporations. And the recommendations do away with that, in fact, rather than just even negotiating on behalf of Medicare buyers.
Medicare would be able to negotiate on behalf of every single American, which is a huge deal. We also doubled investment in federally qualified health centers, do away with some of the barriers that are, you know, for it, frankly, just cruel to immigrants getting access to health care that they should be should have access to in this country. Investments in the Indian Health Service. And one point for me, which is a baby of mine and something that I care a lot about, given that I was the health director in the city, Detroit, and saw firsthand what health disparities looked like, every day is a commitment to an executive order which commands and offers resources for a whole of government approach to root out health disparities.
That means not just HHS, right. Health Human Services, but Department of Treasury, Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor, all of them are tasked with the responsibility of asking how do our policies and systemic racism insinuate their way into our policies and how do these create antiquities in our country and how can we meaningfully root them out? And so I am very optimistic about this plan. Of course not satisfied. I believe in Medicare for all.
But I also note that, you know, for folks who believe in Medicare for all, like I do, there is no world in which a Donald Trump presidency advances the ball down the field for Medicare. For all you know, the way I sort of think about it. I tend to think in crude sports analogies is that, you know, right now we've been in defense for a long time. And I got the choice between going on defense again under another Trump president presidency and working to prevent the repeal of the ACA.
Or we can go out in the field and, you know, potentially kick a field goal. And, you know, if I want to score a touchdown, I'm going to take three points on the field any day. And and so, you know, Progressive's, I think, have a lot to look at in these plans and say, you know what? You know, we got to come together. We've got to be Donald Trump. And then starting on day one of the Biden administration, we can't let up on the things that we know need to change in this country.
And that's got to be the way forward for us. No, I mean, look at first of all, I'm I'm so glad that you were one of the people on this task force. I think it sounds like tremendous progress.
You know, I think what was lost in the some of the conversation in the primary about the different plans is like not all public options are created equal. And I think Biden's public option in the primary was sort of on the you know, on the flimsier end of the scale just compared to sort of a peek boo to judge public option or what better in common? I had stuff like that. And I think what he has agreed to now, thanks to you guys, is I mean, that is very robust that, you know, people making fifty thousand dollars or less in this country, many of whom have been even shut out of Medicaid in states where they haven't expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to be automatically enrolled in a government run plan that is premium free, that is no deductible, that takes care of you.
That that alone, just for some of the poorest and working class folks in this country, would be huge. And again, you know that the idea behind the public option is that hopefully so many people like that option that it eventually crushes the private insurance companies over time, not as quickly as obviously moving to Medicare for all would be in a single payer. But, you know, hopefully people try it, they like it, and then and we move closer towards a single payer goal.
And, you know, I saw a judge health care policy by two basic questions. Number one, would it benefit the median family that I was responsible for when I was health director in the city, Detroit? And if I go to them and I say, what is your circumstance now when it comes to health care? Will this meaningfully improve it? And that's absolutely the case.
And then second, what will the insurance corporations who profiteering off health care for a long time think about this policy? And I assure you, they're not going to like it. And so you're not going to be happy. Yeah.
So part of me is just like, yo, if the bad guys don't like it and the people who are hurt by the system do like it, then we're probably moving in the right direction. And so I do think there's some real movement here. And I got to say it was a privilege working with every member of the team, like the earnestness that came through the process, you know, with in in honesty, with the disagreements that we had.
But earnest appreciation for what we all were trying to do. I was just really impressed by and I think one of the frustrations with 2016 is that that earnestness did never came through. Whereas in 2020, I think, you know, folks sitting on opposite sides of the table saw it, looked each other's eyes and said, you know what, like we all want the same thing for the country. We have a difference of opinion about how we get there sometimes or how fast we try and get there.
But we agree on what direction we want to go, and that's a big deal. So let's come together and think about how we get there and let's move forward.
And I'm really proud of that, Abdoul. Thank you for joining us, as always. Everyone, please go check out America Dissected. It's a fantastic podcast. Definitely. Check out the Anthony Foushee interview and go pick up Abdul's book, Healing Politics. It's a fantastic read. Thank you so much for joining us, man. Take care, John.
Always a privilege and my best to Emily, who I know almost there with with a little with a little young Fabro. I'm really excited to see pictures almost almost couple weeks away.
Take care. And the best to. Thanks to DOOL for joining us today. And everyone, have a great weekend. And we'll talk to you next week. Bye, everyone. Pottsy of America is a crooked media production. The executive producer is Michael Martinez, our assistant producers, Jordan Waller. It's mixed and edited by Andrew Chadwick. Kyle Segment is our sound engineer thanks to Tanya's nominator, K.D. Lang, Roman Pappert Demetrio, Caroline Reston and Elisa Gutierrez for production support.
And to our digital team, Alija Ko Na Melkonian, Yael Freed and Milo Kim, who film and upload these episodes as videos every week.