Mexico Deal, Iran Tensions, Barr & Ross Contempt Charges, Conway & Sanders

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Mike and Kristin begin with a discussion about the recent immigration agreement between the U.S. and Mexico. They go into some depth about the details of the agreement, President Trump’s stance, the concerns about the short timeline for Mexico, and some of the larger issues that the U.S. may face down the road. Both agree to take a “wait and see” approach. They also question whether it would be wise to add a “sunset” provision to executive orders so that Congress can assess crisis situations with a more flexible timeframe, but without necessarily hindering the President’s ability to act quickly.

Next up is another geo-political topic that picked up steam toward the end of the week – escalating tensions with Iran. This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed the finger at Iran for involvement in attacks of tanker vessels in the Gulf of Oman. Mike wonders if this is something the U.S. should approach with “muscle”, essentially backing Iran into a corner, and whether that is a wise move. Kristin brings up historical context and the importance of unifying allies to address Iran’s aggression – as was the case under President Reagan. Mike also brings up questions about the connection between this and possible arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Turning to domestic issues, Mike and Kristin discuss the disagreement surrounding the citizenship question on the 2020 Census, as well as the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s vote to hold AG William Barr and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in contempt for withholding related documents. Both Kristin and Mike surmise that there is more here than meets the eye, as the actions seem politically motivated on both sides. They discuss their views, and Mike brings up an interesting idea regarding the timing of the Census.

Finally, Mike and Kristin wrap up with a discussion of some personnel changes and issues coming out of the White House, including White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her departure, as well as issues surrounding Top Aide Kellyanne Conway’s violations of the Hatch Act.

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Impeachment and 2020

Will and Alexandra begin today’s show by discussing the state of impeachment talks. Will argues that impeachment at this moment would do nothing by divide Democrats and solidify Trump support. With the DCC publicly split already, it would just draw focus off of 2020 and risk alienating potential moderate voters. Alexandra, on the other hand, has shifted her views since the Barr performance and lack of willingness of Trump to cooperate. While she believes winning in 2020 is crucial for Democrats, she believes this is about protecting institutions and democracy more largely.pol

Next, they turn to a general discussion of the 2020 election. Will continues to argue that 20 candidates in a debate is going to fracture the party more than help. Moreover, he points to the potential for donor fatigue based on debate performances and the general election. The September debates will produce more substance and nuance, but what damage will occur before then? Alexandra points to concerns about Democrats only participating when they are energized by a candidate and the impact octogenarian candidates may have here. She draws out comparisons between current female candidates and the flaws of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Perhaps most importantly, she points out that the presence of Bernie Sanders on stage—who she identifies as not being a Democrat—as damaging the ability for other candidates to shine.

Lastly, Alexandra and Will discuss topics of interest this week. Will chooses to discuss regulation and sport. After yet another small child was hit by a foul ball at a baseball game, there are increasing calls for enhanced safety measures. Will understands the wish to regulate for the name of safety but also posits that parents have a role to play here when deciding to sit with small children. Alexandra shared about her research describes a lot of what is occurring in American politics before our eyes today by focusing on how dissent against leaders by group members is viewed—both by leaders and those who dissent. This is relevant for framing discussions within both the Republican and Democratic parties today.

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Trump Goes to Europe, Jobs Report, Mexican Tariffs, and ICE

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Will and Alexandra begin by discussing President Trump’s trip this week to Europe. While Will believes the trip got off to a rocky start thanks to the tweets directed at Mayor Kahn, he also argues that the Normandy Address was the highlight of Trump’s presidency thus far. Alexandra posits that there were a number of concerns about the trip, including the inclusion of Trump’s extended family on the trip. The conversation ends with a detailed conversation about media coverage and perceptions of individual reality.

Next, they turn to discuss the recently released job report, which failed to meet expectations of the administration. Alexandra points to concerns about how quick the Fed can (or is wiling to) move. More importantly, she feels the unemployment numbers are not the best evidence of how well society is doing because of the type of jobs that are available. Will believes the Fed will drop interest rates quite soon to help make up the gap but also points to stable unemployment and overall healthy economy continuing to buoy the Trump Presidency. Yet, a slowing economy will need to be addressed.

For the next topic, Alexandra and Will talk about Trump’s Mexican tariff threats. Will believes Trump needs to ensure support of his base before moving unilaterally. Will the average Midwestern voter sacrifice from their own income to limit immigration at our Southern border? Maybe more importantly, can he handle detractors within his own party over this issue? Alexandra points to the brokered deal not likely leading to success. Moreover, she posits that the initial tariff threat could have led to a complete destabilization of the Mexican government and economy, leading to more efforts for individuals to enter to the United States.

Lastly, they turn to a discussion of recent ICE actions and the decision to cut educational opportunities and legal aid for children in custody without parents. While budget was cited as the main cause, there are plenty of political arguments. Alexandra finds the actions to be illegal despite pleasing Trump’s base and supporters. Will argues that we technically owe nothing to these individuals beyond stated rights, he recognizes there is no benefit to not helping children in these situations. Both agree that depriving children of basic emotional stability has long-term consequences.

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Israel, Electoral Strategies, “Freedom molecules,” Presidential Crimes, Presidential Power, Political Moderates

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Trey and Ken take on listen questions in this midweek episode. First the pair answer a question on why liberals seemingly support Israel. Second they weigh in on if the Democrats have a successful electoral strategy to create a new “blue wall.” Third they address a question on the changes in climate change language coming from the White House. Specifically what they think of the term “freedom molecules.” Fourth they explore a listen question on if and why presidents cannot be charged with a crime. Is it policy or is it a constitutional reason? Fifth, how much power does the president really have? Specifically, how much economic power? Finally, is it possible to give moderates more power in American political parties?

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Mueller Statement, Mexican tariffs, Abortion, Debate Thresholds

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This week Trey & Ken start the show by analyzing Robert Mueller’s brief statement to the press. Specifically they address why Mueller spoke and why there were no charges brought. They also parse his words on the question of crimes and the lack of support he offered to Barr. Trey thinks that Mueller has opened a greater possibility of impeachment proceedings.

Next is a discussion of Mexico tariffs over immigration. Trey hypothesizes the timing of this conversation is directly related to Mueller’s statement. Ken largely agrees. On the policy side they discuss the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which is the supposed basis for President Trump’s tariffs. Ken sees there being no emergency and therefore not valid, Trey wonders if the act would even apply to a mechanism such as tariffs.

After that it is to the newest abortion restrictions coming from Louisiana. Both agree that one of the unique aspects of this week’s potential restrictions are they originate from Democrats and was signed by a Democratic governor. Trey wonders if this doesn’t point to a larger set of schisms while Ken sees it as regional politics as usual.

Finally, Trey & Ken discuss the new DNC debate thresholds. While some are arguing this makes the Democratic Party a filtering device Ken and Trey argue that is precisely what political parties were designed to do. Trey takes aim at the progressive and populist tendencies that have put too much power into the wrong hands, despite good intentions. Trey sees both the rise of punditry and the decline of parties as bad unintended outcomes to progressive initiatives to end backroom deals.

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I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland on How to Have Grace-Filled Political Conversations

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Mike talks with Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland, hosts of the Pantsuit Politics podcast about their new book, I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): a Guide To Grace-Filled Political Conversations.

In this conversation, Mike, Sarah, and Beth discuss:

  • why they became political podcasters
  • the role of faith in political discussion
  • ‘taking off your jersey’ before talking politics
  • why the left and the right often view politics as more important than it is, and how that makes productive dialog more difficult
  • how to have grace-filled political conversations
  • cultivating a sense of curiosity
  • ‘embracing the paradox’
  • partisan echo chambers
  • and lots more!

follow Pantsuit Politics on Twitter

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Trump Investigations, Iran Tensions, Health Care Conscience Rule, Tobacco Legislation

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Mike & Jay open the show with a look at the latest development in the various investigations and requests for information surrounding President Trump. They agree that while the president’s legal strategy isn’t the strongest, his political strategy – delaying until after the 2020 election and goading the Democrats into impeachment – is a smart one. They also discuss New York’s recently passed law that would allow Congress to receive President Trump’s state tax information.

Next is a discussion of the recent tensions with Iran. Mike points out that this all stems from the Trump administration pulling out of the multilateral Iran nuclear agreement under the assumption that they could get a better deal by squeezing Iran’s economy. Jay largely agrees with the strategy and while Mike understands it, he wonders how successful sanctions are likely to be given our decided lack of success in over half a century of sanctions against Cuba and North Korea.

After that, the Guys talk about the health care conscience rule, which allows providers, insurers, and employers to refuse to provide or pay for health services that violate their religious or moral beliefs. 20 states are suing the administration over this rule, and Mike believes they have a good point, in that it’s likely to result in discrimination against certain groups, especially in underserved rural areas. Jay is more sympathetic to the new rule and feels that if there’s a legitimate need for certain services, the market will find a way to provide it.

Finally, Mike & Jay discuss the ‘Tobacco Free Youth Act’ introduced by tobacco-state Senators Mitch McConnell and Tim Kaine. Mike sees it as a positive step, but not that big of one, arguing that the real fear for the tobacco industry is a ban on flavors, which might hurt the growth of their youth market. Jay’s uncomfortable with the raised restriction, feeling that people can make an informed choice about whether or not to use tobacco. It’s not an argument Mike really buys, given the addictive nature of tobacco – he’d like to see the U.S. move to a total ban of tobacco products over time.

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Matt Grossmann on How Policy Change Happens

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Mike talks with political scientist Matt Grossmann, Director of Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, about his book Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change Since 1945.

Topics Mike & Matt discuss include:
– how much of a role the public has in policy change
– the flaws in our standard notions of how policy change happens
– how Matt examined every major policy change from 1945 – 2004
– why policy favors the status quo – and liberal interests
– President Trump as a policymaker
– and lots more

– follow Matt Grossmann on Twitter

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to patreon.com/politicsguys or politicsguys.com/support.

US v China, Overturning Roe, Apple Lawsuit, Trump’s Immigration Plan

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Mike & Jay start this week’s show by talking about the escalating tensions between the United States and China. Mike actually agrees with President Trump that China may pose a significant security threat and that the time to act is now. But Mike feels that the US can’t act unilaterally and hope to succeed. Jay, as a committed free-trader, views trade wars as ultimately self-defeating and believes that President Trump will end up making a deal with China.

Next is a discussion of the recent anti-abortion law in Alabama, which was expressly designed to provide the Supreme Court an opportunity to overturn Roe v Wade. Mike believes that the Court largely got it right in Roe, while Jay sees the decision as judicial overreach. Neither of them think that the current court is likely to overturn Roe, though if President Trump gets any more appointments , that could change.

Following that is a look at the Supreme Court’s decision allowing a major class-action lawsuit against Apple to go forward. Both Mike and Jay believe the five justices in the majority made the right call, though Jay felt that the dissenters also made some strong points. Mike thinks that, regardless of the decision on the merits, the Court allowing this suit to go forward could cause Apple and other tech giants to act less anti-competitively, for fear of future legal action.

The show closes with a discussion of President Trump’s new immigration plan, which calls for a shift from a largely family ties based system to one focused on education and job skills. Mike thinks it’s a reasonable idea, but only if the overall permanent residency caps are significantly boosted, which would make it something that at least some Democrats could support. Jay is less sanguine about the possibility of any deal, but he agrees that there’s a strong case to be made for more legal immigration.

Senate Republican Policy Committee paper on the Trans Pacific Partnership

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Trump Approval, 2020, and Party Leadership

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Will and Alexandra open the show discussing Trump’s current approval numbers and potential reasons they have reached a high during his administration. They then discuss the state of the Democratic field for 2020 and how the number of candidates could impact the electability of the eventual nominee. Next, they discuss Alexandra’s research on in-group control and leadership and how it relates to the modern political narrative. They end with listener questions on Trump’s foreign policy legacy and the future of Spygate investigations.

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to patreon.com/politicsguys or politicsguys.com/support.