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Welcome to Positive America. I'm Dan Pfeiffer. I am not Jon Favreau. I am Tommy betore subbing in today. Because, Dan, we got some news.
We're going to break this news right here now. I got permission, so I have permission to tell what's going on, which is that John called me at about 10, 30 last night and said, hey, I think Emily's water broke.
We're headed to the hospital. Can I drop Leo off at your house?
And I resisted the urge to say, you think he's there. I was just going to say yes. At the hospital now.
There's no baby. Yes. But I can report to our listeners that Leo is snuggling with Hannah comfortably and that I have taken an epidural in solidarity. So that's where we're at.
Well, it will be perfectly fitting for the long history of the Thursday podcast if the Favro baby arrives immediately after the recording of this podcast.
That's a big breaking news right out. That's right. I would also know that I haven't taken assiduous records over the four years that the four of us have been doing podcasts. But I'm pretty sure this is the first time you and I have ever done a podcast, just the two of us. Oh, darn.
That's so weird. And this is exciting. I've always wanted to just talk to you.
I mean, I've just been trying to get the other half a Fenway strategies for four years now, and I finally got there.
Well, I'm just trying to get an invite onto a campaign. Experts react that I've been smashing that subscribe button.
You were on the list and you have to pass a experts mental acuity test to get on it. So we'll see.
We got it. Got it. All right. On today's pod, we're going to talk about President Trump's new tone and the revival of the daily covert briefings.
The latest twists and turns on Congress's efforts to pass another covert relief bill. And Joe Biden's very bold plan to help caregivers and parents. But first, Tommy, every week in the housekeeping's, actually, my favorite part is when John dramatically reads the parts Save the World promos.
But since we have you here, we have you here today. I let you do it yourself.
I remember what I said or what usually happens with these is I said something stupid and then Jordan and Michael Martinez chill it out a little bit.
But then I had a great show. We had Matt Dasan, who is a national security adviser to Bernie Sanders, incredibly smart guy who's trying to think of all the ways to push for more progressive foreign policy. And then we also talked about the ways that everything Mike Pompei, the secretary of state, touches turns to shit. So check that one out. We've got to do a Mike Pompeo and a poop emoji podcast cover art, which speaks to just how childish we are.
But I also think it's worth letting everybody know how bad Mike is at his job before he runs for president since he went to Iowa last week.
Dan, on the State Department dime, I mean, sure, that makes complete sense. There's nothing else happening in the world. You time to work in Iowa, right?
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Once again, check everything out at Vote Save America dot com slash every last vote this week as his polling numbers sank further into the proverbial political toilet.
President Trump restarted his daily coronavirus briefings, which he suspended in the spring after suggesting that Americans drink bleach to protect themselves. Before we get to the briefings, Trump did an interview with Fox News, where he had a few things to say about that mental acuity test he so probably taken. Let's take a listen.
If you're in the office of the presidency, we have to be sure. So they were saying all these different things. It was going all over, whichever stuck. None of it stuck, fortunately. But one of the reasons it didn't is that I took a test. I said to the doctor, who is Dr. Ronnie Jackson? I said, is there some kind of a test and acuity test? And he said, there actually is. And he named it whatever it might be.
Then it was 30 or 35 questions. The first questions are very easy. The last questions are much more difficult, like a memory question. It's like he'll go person, woman, man, camera, TV show. That's a. Could you repeat that? So I said, yeah. So it's person, woman, man, camera, TV. OK, that's very good. If you get it in order you get extra points if you're OK. Now he's asking you other questions.
Other questions. And then ten minutes, 15, 20 minutes later to remember the first question, not the first, but the tenth question. Give us that again. Can you do that again? And you go person, woman, man, camera, TV. If you get it in order, you get extra points. They said nobody gets it in order. It's actually not that easy. But for me it was easy. And that's not an easy question.
In other words, they ask, do they give you five names and you have to repeat them? And that's OK. If you repeat them out of order, that's OK. But but, you know, it's not as good. But then when you go back about twenty, twenty five minutes later and they say, go back to that quote, they don't tell you this. Go back to that question and repeat them. Can you do it. And you go person, woman, man, camera, TV.
They say that's amazing. How did you do that? They do it because I have like a good memory, because I'm cognitively they're like, okay to me.
So after listening to Donald Trump explain this test. Are you ready to finally admit that he is the very stable genius he claims to be? He is. Look, he was right all along, were on. I mean, this moment kind of encapsulates, I think, everything about Trump. That is terrifying, hilarious and demoralizing all at once. Right. He is basically bragging about passing the NFL concussion test without ever getting on the field. And he somehow thinks that sounding like a CSA is the way to make an argument that Joe Biden is in cognitive decline.
Right. And so for all of us, it is just self-evident that he's a blithering idiot. But somehow 40 percent of the country is going to love it because Fox News trots out the Heraldo Rivera of TV doctors to tell us he's a genius. It's like it's just one of those moments where his stupidity is laid bare for the world to see and half of the country still won't edit it. It makes you apoplectic that this man is in charge. But whatever.
Here we are. I feel like his pride in passing this test was undermined by the fact that he cannot not remember the name of the test.
I mean, it's so like there it is. Like, you're right. It does feel like it's a real window into just Donald Trump's mind, which is he is clearly incredibly proud of, quote unquote, passing this test.
It's perhaps the only test he's ever passed and he is unable to even acknowledge or accept the idea that this is not the Mensa entrance exam. This is not the application for a Rhodes scholarship. It is essentially the test they give people to see if they have dementia or potentially Alzheimer's. That's what it is. And that's the test he's passed.
And he treats it as if it's a way to demonstrate that he has the ability to be president, not just remember five things around and thinking that this exam is worthy of being presented states as sort of like passing a field sobriety test and thinking it qualifies you to be the number one traffic in the NFL.
It's just it's just an absurd sense of how he glorifies the basic minimum success. And it's also I would also note that.
He he sort of explained that this was Dr. Ronnie Jackson who gave it to him and Dr. Ronnie Jackson left the White House years ago to then run a horribly offensive and deeply disappointing campaign for Congress.
So this isn't even a recent mental acuity test. Yeah. I mean, he didn't get into Mensa. He basically it's like that that commercial where you can get into an art school if you draw a turtle with a pirate hat on it.
And it's like he just doesn't seem to understand that even discussing this once is a cellphone. The way you prove that you are all cognitively there is you don't talk about your your cognitive tests.
You just kind of move on. The only rule of being cognitively fit is not having to defend whether you're cognitively fit. Yeah, yeah, I think that's right. OK, so far, Trump has held two briefings. And while he's no longer telling Americans to chug disinfectant. Here's what he did say this past week. He lied about the U.S. corona virus mortality rate and spread misinformation about the ability of children to transmit the corona virus, as well as offering well wishes to the woman accused of helping Jeffrey Epstein in the sexual trafficking of minors.
But despite that, the news media was quite excited about a, quote, change in tone that they're seeing from the president. Our friends at The Daily Show did a little compilation that we'd like to play for you.
President Trump is dramatically changing his tone and strategy tonight. The president took the podium alone, bringing in a shift in tone. Striking a much more serious and measured tone, perhaps a bit more reserved version of President Trump. A different tone coming from the president today for the first time presented a rather sober view of this pandemic. The president at times was offering a more sobering analysis. The president actually sang in a very somber way. He was so low, it was shorter.
He had a really different tone.
What stands out to me here is the change in tone.
Well, Tommy, before we get to what I am sure will be a very spirited discussion of the tone.
I wanted to ask you about the return of the briefings themselves and what you think this says about whether Trump is acknowledging either the change in the virus since he got rid of these briefings or at least the change in his political standing?
Yeah. So, Dan, just one quick note. Just from my world was out there. We also learned this week that Trump asked his ambassador to the UK to lobby British officials to get the British Open at his golf course and then denied it at one of these briefings. So, you know, we're just full on lies, propaganda, corruption. It's all happening at once. But back to the briefings itself. So, like his advisers are good.
They're not good at politics, but they're able to turn on a television so they know that the corona virus news is all consuming. They reportedly show Trump a bunch of polling that proved that his numbers around the handling of the pandemic are catastrophically bad. I do think that's probably why you've seen some course corrections in terms of him wearing a mask publicly. Like, look, that's significant, right? Like normally he doesn't learn or change in any way. But in this case, I just think it would be political suicide to keep doing what you're doing.
And it always speaks to the tension in the White House, which is how much you have the president talk about, like the news of the day and what's happening versus what you want your message to be. I think they're learning that in a pandemic, you just don't have a choice. But Dan, you tweeted, Trump always thinks that more Trump is the answer to the problem when he's really the problem. I think that's a perfect encapsulation. I don't know if resuming the briefing will help them.
I think they probably have to give it a shot. I would argue for doing it. But the problem is that he has screwed up his trust on this issue so badly that two thirds of the country doesn't believe what he says. And he refuses to let Foushee or Doctor Berk's or any of the professionals do the briefings BS that hurts his ego. So we might have a new tone for a couple days. We'll get to that later. I'm sure we'll see the same old Trump and like, you know, actions will speak louder than words here, I think, when it comes to what Congress and the administration actually puts forward to help people.
Yeah, you know, I think that you raise a really important point.
And by that I mean you quoted by tweet behests, but they would like these. Like like I said, we'll get to tone. But these briefings are stylistically different than the previous briefings, which is the previous briefings included Trump usually at the top. And then there was like this cavalcade of cabinet secretaries, relieved, really heavy trickily early on on the quote unquote, medical experts in Dr. Stenchy. And. And these briefings are Trump and only Trump.
And I am skeptical that the problem politically or substantively or stylistically with the previous briefings was too much expertise.
Right. So, too, is the TV Kurk thing airtimes.
He wrote a book about how TV informs Trump's relationship, which is a great book which whose title I have totally forgotten right now.
But he wrote an article about this where he compared what's happening with these briefings to season two of The Apprentice. And I said for like we have sort of convinced ourselves because Donald Trump became president, that The Apprentice was this incredibly successful show over a long period of time that led to trumping president.
That's not actually the case. The first season was a huge success. And then Trump sort of attributed all of the success to himself, went on a huge media tour, made himself a bigger part of the show, and the ratings cratered in the second season. And eventually it was then rebooted as the even more ridiculous Celebrity Apprentice, where he was getting like delice celebrities to to compete for jobs like I think Lil Jon most famously was on there.
Yeah, meatloaf, a couple. You know, you see the NBC s Gary or Jake, I don't know which, but like, that is sort of what he thinks, as you know.
And that's why Trump. Thinks that more Trump is the solution to the problem. And when it's probably the opposite. Like if if we were in the world with a normal president.
Right. How do you think a normal right, let's let's take Barack Obama is a random selection of a normal president, but how do you think we would have handled the briefings from the Obama perspective?
I mean, think about like a foreign trip. Right. When we all go abroad, we go to a G20 where we go to a NATO summit. You have this captive audience of a press corps. You have all these experts who are there with you to your staff, you in the various meetings about discrete issues.
What you do in those cases is you have your expert on China or the economy brief for you, because the president should have better things to do than spend an hour every single day at the podium. At some point, you need to take questions from the press. You need to give speeches. But in terms of like the White House briefing component, I would just have these experts out there every day providing factual information and trying to like, create a cadence where people felt like they trusted information from the White House again.
At the same time, I would want the president doing events with first responders. I would want him visiting with doctors. I would want him welcoming into the Oval Office people who have fully recovered from Kofod to show that, you know, there is sort of a light at the end of this tunnel. There's a million different ways you can have an out on these issues that isn't taking a grab bag of questions from the press, half of which are going to be about things you don't want to talk to.
So, like, tactically, maybe it's the only thing they can do. But it's still not the best way to approach it. I don't think yeah.
The most strategic way of thinking about this from Trump. And like you said there, he neither he nor his team are particularly strategic in any way, shape or form. But is the best chance for Trump to get reelected is to get the virus under control. The best way for the virus or controls for Americans to change behavior. And so you would need to put someone who was trusted by Americans to give them advice. So you would pretty much do this briefing with Dr.
Falchi every single day. It would probably be covered. Yeah. Live on television every single day, because Dr. Falchi has is trusted by a rolling majorities of Americans. He has bipartisan trust. And if he was telling people to wear masks to socially distance who stay out of bars, to not gather people outside of your household for, you know, indoors, that would have potential to change behavior. And therefore, Trump would sort of lie back. You know, it's often true that the best thing that Trump could do to improve his political position would be to just shut up because he has become so polarizing and as you point out, so distrusted on coronavirus that he has the opposite effect.
Right. He is incapable of telling people good information, clearly. And when he speaks, it often drives people in the wrong direction. Both. It takes, you know, his base, which are the people that have been weaponized against this and moved him in the wrong direction. And in a pandemic where we are only sort of as strong as our weakest link. You need everyone in there. And but they're incapable that like that has been always how Trump is responding to these things is just more Trump.
Yeah. Now, we spent a lot of time dunking on the media. And, you know, as that Daily Show clip showed, a lot of them sort of fell hook, line and sinker for the idea that Trump has a new tone in his newly engaged in the coronavirus. Like that is the the spin the Trump team has been giving to the press that, yeah, sure, maybe he had downplayed it before he was against masks.
And, you know, as though the wash in post-war over the weekend bored with the Corona virus. But now he's engaged and he has this new tone. And so first, I want to ask you, why do you think so many members in the media sort of have fallen for this trick or or is it a trick? You know, is it a new tone of sorts? I mean. Right. Suggesting Trump had a new tone at the briefing can get you murdered via, quote, tweet.
So I will I'll tread lightly here. But like there there is a charitable version of that description, which is basically Trump didn't go out and do an hour and a half long briefing, that it was ranting and raving and included like five minute diatribes about how the military ran out of bullets until he came along. Right. Like that was the version of this we were seeing in April. He didn't say in Jackson bleach into your body. He said the obvious, which is that, you know, covert will probably get worse before it gets better.
And while that is the lowest bar humanly possible, when people say, like how he's talking about Cobh, it has changed. I think that's what they're talking about. It was shorter. It was sort of subdued. But those descriptions are all all relative to a 30 minute snapshot in time. And I doubt it will stay that way. I think the problem for Trump is it's too little, too late. Telling everyone to wear masks three to four months ago might have meaningfully slowed the spread of the virus.
It might have saved a lot of lives if he had tweeted, be safe. Care for your neighbors. You know, like take care of your children instead of liberate Michigan.
We might have prevented this response from becoming partisan. So he's he's again, like you said, like not doing the obvious easy thing, which is have Fouche you do the briefings, but he's not as embarrassingly terrible as he was at one point. So I think that the delta between those two gets shorthanded as new tone. It's just we've seen these little snapshots in a day or two moments of what seems like contrition from him, but they never, ever, ever stick.
And I think that's what drives people crazy.
I think if we're gonna be fair to the media, which, you know, you always strive to do here at Ponson America is, I think, for the overall majority of the media, if you ignore, you know, some tweets and some brief clips on cable, the idea that Trump has a new tone and a new level of engagement is treated with a pretty heavy degree of skepticism. Right. It's like dripping out of these stories because people he's done this a thousand times.
There are only so many times people are gonna fall for it.
The fact that people still some people in the media still go to it, I think speaks to a couple of different things. One is there is a you know, it's just it's the larger both sides narrative that the media loves, which is you rat, you would rather be balanced than accurate in any opportunity.
You have to say something positive about Trump sort of helps get you your both sides quota for the month. And so people leap to that. And I think second is, you know, the media, like the rest of us are, you know, we have family members at risk of conveyed. We know people who have gotten sick or die from covered were you know, if you're in the media, you're deeply worried about your financial situation because of the hit the corona virus related recession has had on, you know, advertising everything.
And so I think there are sometimes this thirst for a normal president, like we need him, like we actually need Trump to succeed here as a country. And so you can sort of see some white yearning in the media for it.
I think what it like is his tone different? I think that's sort of the it's a cheap way that the media sort of does it begin. It's like defaulting to optics, which, you know, we obviously scream about all the time.
But I think what is different, at least in two briefings, is that he didn't take the bait. Right. He took these questions. Reporters asked, you know, about things other than the Corona virus. And instead of launching into a diatribe like, well, he had a question about Chicago Mayor Laurie Lightfoot's response to his proposal to use federal troops to invade Chicago.
And he answered an incredibly stupid and pretty offensive way, but not his usual stupid and offensive way.
And so he is getting credit for that. Whether that will stick for several days. I do not now. And then I think the other mistake the media makes is sort of treating this briefing as something that happens in a vacuum because that's not how people consume it. Right. Like, yes, there must be something something like that is hard for me to imagine. There's some audience people who watch that 30 minute briefing and they consume no other Trump content for the rest the day.
And as he's being praised for, his new tone and new level of engagement are, quote unquote, turning the corner en masse or whatever.
He's sending out a bunch of crazy tweets this morning about Obama and Biden in and Liz Cheney and a bunch of other things. And so, you know, let's see where this goes in a few days. But it doesn't like I don't think this is the moment where Trump became president. Yeah. You mean your point about this happening in a vacuum is the most important one? I mean, of course, if you read a tweet that says new tone from Trump, you are going to spiral off in a rage.
If you juxtapose that with images of random unidentified DHS storm troopers beating the shit out of moms who are protesting in Portland right here, gassing the mayor of Portland, tear gassing the mayor of Portland.
And to your other point, like reporters are human beings. They're doing their best. They're scared to death in this moment, too. Ashley Parker writes for The Washington Post, who's been on the show a couple of times. Fantastic reporter, wonderful human being. Tweeted on the 22nd that she took a COBA test last Monday and has now been 10 days and she still doesn't have her results. So they are they are living with the consequences of this totally fumbled policy response as much as we are.
They're frustrated, too. Everybody's just trying to do their jobs in some ways. Your job is to reflect. OK. If the Tuesday briefing was totally different than the Monday briefing, you have to tell people that. But you have to sweep it into the broader context of how badly this whole thing has been bungled.
It's sort of the hard part of media today, which is if you were to read the top, you know, it's just written stories in the Times and The Post about this, you would get the full context. If you're consuming news in a three minute, you know, immediate reaction on CNN or MSNBC or FOX or whatever else or it is reading a tweet, you're not going to get that full context.
And it's right. Were you surprised that he took a moment or in this briefing to offer well wishes to glean Maxwell?
That is. Look, again, here's another moment where I can very easily understand why people would fly off into a rage about the Newtown suggestion. I mean, Glenn Maxwell is charged with sex trafficking of children. She conspired with Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse minors. She participated in the abuse of girls as young as 14. You don't wish her well. You hope that she rots in a fucking prison cell and that she survives to testify against all the other people who are complicit in this.
Right. That statement would be a defining moment for the presidency of basically any other human being who has who has served in that role. But for Trump, it's just the latest in a string of bizarre moments that define the entire presidency, I guess.
Yeah, he I mean, he does have this natural tendency because he views everything through himself. And so, yes, when people are accused of racism, he tends to defend them because he thinks any accusation of racism, an accusation against Trump, which is a bit of a self-conscious own there.
But it's same thing with, you know, which is why he's always defended whether, you know, it's Harvey Weinstein or Bill O'Reilly or anyone else. Anytime someone is accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment or crimes, he has a like he feels a connection to people involved in crimes. And so who these white people involved in crimes. And so that's why I left here.
It does like he does have to say that if you are, you know, working on your story about the new tone and he offers well wishes, óglaigh Maxwell, you probably should delete your story and start over with a story about President Trump using the White House podium to offer well wishes to claim Ximo. But you know. Such as. Such as the Robillard. Yes. Yeah. Well wishes to pedophile would normally be the lead of most US White House.
That's a speech that would be on the front page of a paper if Barack Obama had done that. Yes. Yes. I think that in a tense suture. Yeah, that's a.
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That is true. Yeah, I had some magic spoon this morning, in fact. Super weird. I also purchased some of the peanut butter flavor, which I really liked.
I decided to move to a monthly subscription because I kept ordering. But I think I might have like double ordered or something because two very large boxes came to my house filled with frosted flavor. Magic spoon. And I don't even know if there's room for it in the house anymore. I'm just I'm just like finding new storage spaces to put all the magic spoon boxes. So that's just that's what I'm going through. Here's what you need to know about Magic Spoon.
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I think our frosting guy as well. I also I did enjoy the peanut butter. Frosted is still number one of my heart. I definitely put down, you know, about a half a box of it this morning.
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All right, Tony. While we're on the topic of tone, there was a separate incident, the House this week that we should talk about.
On Monday, Florida Representative Ted Yoho accosted Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on the steps of the Capitol, calling her disgusting and crazy after AOC called him rude and he walked away.
He was heard by a reporter calling her a, quote, fucking bitch.
Yoho later offered a pretty insufficient apology where he used his wife and daughters to defend himself from charges of sexism and said he couldn't apologize for his passion or for loving my God.
My family and my country. AOC spoke about what happened and how yo ho respond on the House floor on Thursday. It's worth listening to the whole thing. But here's a short clip.
But what I do have issue with is using women, our wives and daughters, as shields and excuses for poor behavior. Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I'm two years younger than Mr. Yoho's youngest daughter. I am someone's daughter to. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter.
My mother got to see Mr. Yoho's disrespect on the floor of this house towards me on television. And I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.
Tell me what your reaction to that. I mean, first of all, you know, Ted Yoho calling her a fucking bitch in front of a reporter and then saying, I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God. It is such a disgraceful, cynical, cowardly, pathetic excuse for an apology. I couldn't believe it. I mean, look, misogyny is not new. It is not new in Congress. It is not new in Washington, D.C. Misogyny is not a Republican problem.
It is a American problem. That said, I mean, the kind of treatment and dehumanization that AOC and a lot of the younger members of Congress, women of color mostly have endured is disgraceful. I mean, a Republican superPAC ran an ad that starts by burning a photo of AOSIS face to reveal a pile of human skulls in Cambodia. Right. Trump told the squad to go back to where they came from, I guess, forgetting that they are American citizens.
Rudy Giuliani this week tweeted a photo that was taken four years before Elaine Omar was born and claimed that it was a picture of her at an al-Qaida training camp before that. Susan Rice was the preferred Fox News target. Right. Like, this doesn't happen by accident. They are targeted because of their gender, their race, and the goal is to dehumanize them. And that makes people like Ted Yoho feel okay, threatening them, calling them names, delegitimizing them.
And so, like Trump didn't create this problem. But when you have a man in the Oval Office bragging about sexual assault, it's certainly. Makes them all think they can get away with these kinds of comments with impunity. So good for her for for calling this shit out. I highly recommend everyone watch the full nine minute speech. It was powerful. I think she delivered it without any notes. I mean, it was just like searing, personal.
Hopefully, it leads to some introspection from Yoho and some of these others who who like to hide behind the fact that their fathers and husbands and all this nonsense. But, you know, treat others with such disrespect. But it was incredibly impressive.
Yeah. I mean, AOC is one of the most powerful, eloquent messengers in it. And people in all of American life. And I thought you respond to that an incredibly powerful way. And I think and you're right that, you know, this is part of a larger pattern of the dehumanization of people of color in women of color in particular, that comes directly from the Oval Office. Ted Yoho, who seems appropriately named, by the way, has been horrible long before Donald Trump was in office.
But Trump's behavior and his rhetoric, you know, sets a standard for for, you know, not just for Republican Party of American people. And it's important for people to stand up and push back against it. And, you know, AOC did in as powerful ways possible. I would encourage people to share the speech clips of the speech with people, their network, because I think it is helpful to hear the way how she responded to it as so many Americans still with us.
Yeah, agree. OK.
So we've known for a long time that the initial corona virus stimulus bill wouldn't be enough to get us through this crisis. That is why back in May, the House Democrats passed the Heroes Act. Three trillion out piece of legislation that extended the six hundred dollar unemployment expansion, provided billions of dollars for state local governments and ramped up public health infrastructure, including testing. Since then, the Republicans have done basically squat. Mitch McConnell has even argued against doing anything at all.
But on Thursday morning, Republicans got a new tone. We finally got some movement. According to The Washington Post, the emerging GOP bill is expected to include a fresh round of 200 dollars stimulus checks, a limited extension of enhanced unemployment insurance benefits, and 70 billion dollars for elementary and secondary schools. Money for coronavirus testing and tracing. And, of course. Ever Republican's favorite provision, legal liability protections for businesses. The clock is right. I think I would add one note to this is that half the money for schools in the bill is conditioned upon schools physically reopening in the fall.
And there is no new money for states and localities.
Tommy. I have to ask.
Do you think this seems sufficient, especially given the fact that we got news this morning that weekly unemployment claims were higher than expected and went up for the first time since the early days of the pandemic? No. And they are not fooling anyone with this bullshit. I mean, you can't bungle the pandemic response and then say to workers. Look, I know you're out of work because we couldn't get our shit together and it's not even safe to leave your house.
But we're gonna gut the unemployment benefits we gave you earlier and then pass a bunch of liability waivers that allow your bosses to force you to go back to work and get sick. That is not gonna fly right. Republicans have embraced this false choice that we either reopen the economy or we deal with the pandemic. People understand that they are linked and they're just gonna call them out on this bullshit. I think Democrats, like I've never seen the Democratic Party better positioned politically to pick a fight.
The Republicans want to cut the enhance unemployment benefit to four hundred dollars a month. Democrats should fight like hell to keep it at six hundred dollars a week. And we should fight like hell to prevent these liability waivers for businesses. I mean, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer is a fantastic reporter, had a really important piece this week about how the Trump administration is already using the pandemic to just gut worker protections, gut OSHA and help out big corporate donors.
We can't let that happen. So my message to Democrats pick a fight, right? Georgia Senator Kelly Loffler, who is best known for dumping millions of dollars of stock after getting a pandemic briefing, is on TV saying she sees no need to extend federal unemployment insurance. This as three point one million Georgians the state she represents have filed for unemployment since March. Kelly Loffler is worth eight hundred million dollars. Her private plane cost twenty five million dollars. Let's make Kelly the face of this thing.
And by the way, Dan, the moratorium on evictions that is protecting 12 million tenants from getting kicked out of their homes is about to expire as they're trying to gut these benefits. This is it is insane. It is completely insane to me that they are trying to do this, you know?
So, you know, you make the case that Democrats should fight hard. I think there is this question for Democrats, epicures. Get your take on, which is they obviously have a lot of leverage and we'll talk in a second about what that leverage is.
But there is a risk that if they push in one direction or they make a certain set demands that nothing gets done. How much does that concern you? It concerns me.
But like, let me allow me to be Mitch McConnell for a minute.
I will not just lay that on this pot. You are not kidding. Mitch McConnell here. I'm a turtle and will look at me.
And I think Democrats have all the leverage. I think 75 percent of the country is opposed to cutting the extra unemployment insurance. Trump owns the economy politically. He owns the pandemic response. I don't want us to do nothing, but I think doing something half assed won't solve the problem and it will, you know, reduce people's faith in the government's ability to care. So I think a failed response hurts Mitch McConnell, who is up for re-election and terrified about his Senate majority slipping away.
I just I think that, look, brinksmanship is scary and it sucks. I just I would do it here because I think there's a middle ground solution that we might get to that will both cost a ton of money, make future action harder, but not actually help people. And I kind of think that that might be the worst possible scenario. Yeah.
I mean, it's it is interesting, which is this is always the battle for Democrats. It's between our sense of responsibility to doing the right thing, because we know that we are negotiating with plutocratic nihilists who, you know, are to steal a phrase from Christopher Nolan movie are people who just want to see the world burn like that. That is how the modern Republican Party is. And if you care if the world burns, you are you enter into these negotiations somewhat.
And McConnell has exploited that in many ways over many years.
The thing that is interesting about this is that as we've talked on the Sparkasse many times, there's a strong correlation between the strength of the economy and Election Day in the re-election prospects of incumbents. And in this election, the Republican president, the Republican Senate are the incumbents. And so it would seem to be in their interest more than anyone else to juice the economy. So, you know, it's like you would think if they were truly thinking about doing the right thing and it was sort of kick it out of the right wing conservative news bubble.
You know, the Democrats would like we want two hundred dollar payments then that you with McConnell should be like, you know what?
We'll give you five thousand dollar payments, like whatever you can to put more money in the hands of the people who need it would actually help the Republicans.
So we're in this weird world where Democrats are trying to do the right thing. And in doing the right thing, at least on the economic parts of these bills, we are helping, theoretically helping potentially make it easier for Donald Trump to get reelected, Mitch McConnell to hold the Senate, which, as you point out, should give us a ton of leverage. You know, you brought up the UI expiration, which expires at the end of this month for the expanded UI.
And all the timing from the congressional tea readers suggests that there's no way this bill is getting done before expanded UI expires in. Many, many, many American families are just hanging on barely because of that expanded UI.
The Republicans have expressed reservations and in some cases outright opposition to some sort of bridge like an extension to get us between now and when this new bill comes. How important do you think that is and why in God's name would they oppose such a thing?
I don't know. I mean, I think they cling to this false notion that has been around for decades, that the Republican Party is somehow the fiscal year responsible side of the aisle when we have all watched them pass tax cuts for their rich friends that have exploded the deficit. I mean, look, I don't know. It's a good question on the extension. I am terrified of a scenario where a week, two weeks, three weeks tick by and people have no money and they're starting to get evicted.
And things are going very badly for my four families. But I'm I'm also very worried about a scenario where Republican leaders cut a deal that that ends the cap on the deduction of state and local taxes, because there's a very vocal group of mostly upper income individuals who are progressive as well, lobbying for that. And then you have poultry workers who are forced to go back to work in unsafe conditions and have to pay for their own PPE and hand sanitizer.
And, you know, I mean, it's just like I'm just really worried about. Those people and the neediest groups who are probably not getting heard or that their unions have been gutted over decades. They don't have lobbyists fighting for them. And so that's why I just think I want Democrats to fight for a maximalist position when it comes to the expanded unemployment benefit and to ensure that we're not putting low wage workers in a position where their bosses can say, you have to go back to work even though it's not safe.
And if people die, you can't sue me. I think you're sort of seeing a version of that playing out teachers as well who are being, in some instances forced or getting, you know, hearing demands that they go back to work when nothing has been done to ensure safe working conditions. And I just think it's immoral.
I mean, this is like this is the real challenge for Democrats. And we've been through this a gazillion times in the Obama years. Negotiating with congressional Republicans is like there's any debate about an extension. And the Republican opposition to the extension is a negotiating tactic right now. Right. Which is they feel like if you do that, it turns the clock off. Right. Yeah.
Democrat position is keep it as it is. It's six hundred. Public opposition has no extension. So they'll come back and say, well, extend it for two weeks or three weeks. But it's a three hundred dollar level. Right. So we'll split the difference. But what the problem with that is, is it sets the new ceiling for when you negotiate it in the bigger bill.
I think this is a very important juncture for Democrats to push very hard to not allow them to Republicans to notch their first win in this fight over the extension.
I think I would want to say about schools, which I think is important, which is the Republicans, as you point out, have gone from this sort of framing around that they're the know, liberate Michigan, keep the economy open to their big new wedge issue is schools and opening of schools.
And Trump at that briefing that was filled with new tones and well wishes, you know, talked about how they're. He said kids don't transmit the disease. That is not true. That's actually a dangerous piece of information.
I think it's important that we correct because we no one knows, because obviously this has only been around for a few months.
But there is a large new study from South Korea that shows that children younger than 10 transmit to others, much less than adults do. But the risk is not zero. And those between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do. So with that says it, it's very complicated. And there is great risk in opening schools because as you may know, there are a lot of people older in the age of 10 who go to school.
And so they're just giving it to teachers and they're bringing it home to parents and grandparents, other people with comorbidities. And that's another reason. Another thing Democrats want to fight really hard for, which is these schools need money to prepare, but it cannot be contingent upon risking the health of your students, teachers, employees and parents just to get that money right.
I mean, did I saw a stat that said 30 percent of teachers, the United States are over the age of 50, which puts them at considerable risk from Cauvin, 19. How do we keep them safe? How do you force someone at risk to go back to school? I'm not a parent, but I certainly understand how profoundly parents need their kids back in school so they can go to work and they can make make money. But it's incumbent on the government to to make those jobs safe.
This isn't the military. You didn't sign up, go to the fucking Marines. You're a teacher. Like, keep them safe. And then just on this just last point on this unemployment insurance debate, Republicans are saying publicly that they want to gut the extra unemployment benefit, the 600 hours a week because they think it's deterring people from going back to work. But that is the whole point. We want people home. We want people social distancing. The outbreak is worse now than it was the last time we passed a bill.
Why would we increase incentives for people to reopen or resume work in ways that are not safe? And so this is an incredibly difficult negotiation. It's a hard problem. Democrats need to find a way to wrestle the mike away from Newtown Trump so that we can spell out that alternative governing strategy. I think if people are able to hear the Democratic side of this debate, it will make sense to them. They they intuitively know that we have to deal with the virus and then we can get to the economic part of the problem.
But like, they have to be heard first.
That's right. Public opinion is incredibly on the side of Democrats here, whether it involves an expanded UI, the additional spending, the funding for state, local, the funding for schools opening school safely is all on the Democratic side. Yes. Of America is brought to you by policy genius. You know, there are some combinations that just work milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly. A burger and fries. You guys get any that you're excited about?
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OK, before we wrap up here, I want to take a moment to talk about the latest from our Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.
Earlier this week, Joe Biden rode out the third part of his four part build back better plan. This link involves a seven point seventy five billion dollar plan for providing help to caregivers and parents. Here, just a few of the things the plan calls for. Universal pre-K for three and four year olds. Credits to help people afford care for kids and the elderly. Funding for the construction of new facilities.
And eliminating waitlists that people are on for accessing home and community care through Medicaid. He would pay for this plan by rolling back tax breaks for real estate investors and boosting tax compliance among the very rich.
This is yet another example of how Joe Biden is running as the most progressive nominee in presidential history. And when you get just your reaction, not just at this one particular, but to Biden's decision to offer such big progressive plans at a time in which he is leading in the polls by a large margin. I think this is this is smart. I mean, look, it's a it's a policy that I think would be welcomed by most Americans in a normal moment.
I think it's particularly savvy and timely at a moment where where people are struggling more than usual to to find pre-K for their kids to to find ways to care for the elderly. Clearly, a lot of the facilities and ways we were doing things before were not safe. I also think it was pretty fun that their pay for is going after real estate investors with incomes over four hundred K in tax compliance for for rich tax cheats. This is basically a pay for that will be paid for by Trump's and Kushner's right to directly targeted.
So this is smart. It's a good idea. The challenge is always how do you get this covered? And, you know, in the 2008 campaign, Dan, what we would have done was set up a roundtable with Barack Obama and some kids and some seniors in Philadelphia to get that targeted local media market and, you know, sort of buttress it by a lot of local interviews and one on ones after the fact. Hopefully, that model is replicable on a local scale.
The zoom or be served via the limited campaign travel you're able to do. But I think like when you talk about what people actually want from gov from government, it is this stuff, you know, they don't care if she's briefing or Burton Burk's is briefing or Trump's, you know, talking about Heidrick clocks, chloroquine or whatever the fuck it's called on you remember anymore.
They want to know, like, how is my tax dollars going to help me get my kid to pre-K or help me take care of my my elderly mom. And like, this is a smart plan.
Yeah. It like it. There are obviously Democrats have talked about caregiving before.
People had universal pre-K plans. It was in in Obama's State of the Union. At some point, Kirsten Gillibrand had a bill in the Senate for very long time.
Hillary Clinton talked about it. But as I Jen Poo, who's the co-founder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, put it, this is the first time a presidential campaign has made investments in the care economy. His core strategy and their economic agenda not a side issue, not an add on or special interest. And I think that is a reflection of the way in which the pandemic has changed the debate.
It has like this problem about America woefully and embarrassingly underfunding childcare and caregiving for the elderly. It's been a long, round, long before this. But like so much else, the pandemic has shined a light and exacerbated huge problems in our economy. And so that's obviously good politics. I don't think there's a political downside to doing this. And obviously, you know, the way he's paying for it is quite smart and actually quite legitimate.
But it's also the right way to think about. Fixing the economy.
You know, if and when Joe Biden becomes president, because particularly, you know, if you if you're operating assumption that coronavirus is still going to be around when Joe Biden takes office, dealing with a situation where close schools, closed daycare centers, the lack of other child care or elder care or, you know, we're you know, we're nursing homes are great potential risk centers.
All of that is an impediment to economic activity. People cannot go back to work if they cannot get childcare for their children. And so making it a part of your economic strategy is a substantive right thing to do. And doing the substantive right thing on the economy is always the best politics for all the reasons we just talked about it, about how the economy drives political sentiment so strongly.
I would meant to ask Fabara this question last week when we talked about the climate. Part of his built back better plan, but we never got around to. And I was intending to ask me this week, but since he's not here, I will ask you, what do you think about the build back better message or title or slogan, I guess BBB yet BBB note.
It's catchy. It works. Yeah. Look, it's a memorable write like book.
The joke on most political campaigns I've observed or worked on is that they had so many slogans that it's almost a trivia question to see if you can remember them all. That was a particular criticism of the 2004 presidential campaign. Some of the other primary challengers to Barack Obama, I think, build back better.
Are you referring to Bill Matson? I'm referring to some others. It speaks to the moment look, I don't know, are any of these things valuable? Who knows? You can slap it on a bumper sticker. You can put it on a bus. You can easily make the candidate say it. I mean, my sort of like my bar on these things is does it sound incredibly forced when you have two inserted into a set of remarks about the policy topper of the day?
In this case, I don't think it does. So I say roll with it.
Yeah. I mean, like we have been engaged over the over the many, many years and a gazillion discussions about.
Slogans. And how you title things. And I've been part of some of the worst hiding things ever. Like when we made the theme of the 2011 State of the Union.
When the future, which none of us realized and whatever else of his party, none of us realized that abbreviated to WTS.
So they're all they're always terrible. And like the New Deal is only a cool name in hindsight. Right at the time, it probably right.
Cheesey. And I do think, like I give credit to the Biden people, because when I do, I generally like alliteration, but just build back better. Joe Biden, what's your plan? I want to build back what we've lost and I want to do it better than before.
So it's just like sometimes it's like just say the thing like you don't get extra points for rhetorical flourish. And so and so I think it's great.
Yeah. Look, Kerry in 04 had a stronger America begins at home, a safer, stronger, more secure America. The real deal. The courage to do what's right for America. I think let America be America again. I think they're you know, we're up enough length and use at some point. I mean, you can overthink these things. You can spend hours with whiteboards and named storms and blah, blah, blah, blah, if people don't remember it.
If the candidate doesn't want to use it, if it feels corny, it's not going to work. So build back better. I like it. Roll with it, Joe.
Yeah. Yeah, I think that's right. The other thing I wanted to say was, you know, you raise the issue of like how you communicate this in a pandemic and this like this guy coverage, like I think he even received some television coverage.
And I read I read some stories on it. And I like In the dark in the research document that Jordan Michael sent us for this.
But the the way to think about this, I think always is whenever any campaigns when you're rolling out policy is it's not you want to get as much coverage as you can in the moment just because you want more people to know more things.
But the way to think about as you were layering in a platform and a story that you're going to tell in paid messaging later on.
So this will be you will see and you could see mail pieces. You see digital advertising agency, TV advertising. That's that contrasts Joe Biden's build back better plan.
You know, all the planks of it with everything else you can see advertising with testimonials from parents or caregivers or seniors about why Joe Biden is going to dress the problem. And so it's not just like. Did you get to do a roundtable in Philly today? It's how you use this data point to make your larger argument going forward. Yeah, I mean, look, I think the Corona virus has has laid bare that a lot of the social safety net in America was not prepared for this moment, was not strong enough to begin with.
And so that we need to fix that in the long term. I also think the Biden campaign probably listened to an internalized criticism that some of his early messaging that sounded like, hey, we're just gonna go back to the Obama era and everything is gonna be OK, did not resonate for a lot of people who felt left behind even during the Obama economy. So I do think build back better speaks to that tension and to the moment of the corona virus.
Yeah, that's right, Tommy.
Dan, thank you for filling in for Jon Favreau at the last minute because of unexpected events.
And we are obviously thinking about and John and Emily and wishing them all the best right now.
And we'll talk to everyone next week. Yeah.
I mean, look, Dan, I just want to tell everyone I'm in the office for the first time because I had to escape to barking dogs. And I'm sitting next to the Dan Arama, which we don't get to use, but it includes this this creepy hand with your face on it. So I just and I'm thinking of you. We're thinking of John and Emily. The weird thing about someone going into labor in 2020 is you can literally text them as they're in bed.
So everybody seems fine so far. But yeah. Cited for them. Cited for baby Fabro. Thanks for having me on Thursday. All right. Bye, everyone.
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