Mueller Investigation,Trump and Obamacare, Medicaid Work Requirements

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Jay and Mike open the show with a discussion of what we currently know about the recently ended Mueller investigation. Jay says there was ‘no collusion’ while Mike points out that there was ‘not enough evidence to prove collusion’ which he sees as an important distinction. They also discuss why Mueller refrained from making a determination about obstruction of justice and what’s next for Democrats intent on continuing their investigations into President Trump.

After that is a look at the administration’s recent change of position on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Previously, they stated that while the individual mandate was unconstitutional, the rest of the law could stand (not that they were enthusiastic about it). This change of position seems to be both constitutionally questionable and a potential political problem for Congressional Republicans. However, viewed in light of what’s good for President Trump, Jay believes the change of position may make good political sense.

Finally, the Guys discuss a federal judge halting Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. Mike argues that the administration overstepped when it granted the work requirements waivers which he believes amounted to the executive branch rewriting a law it didn’t like. Jay counters that work requirements are related to health outcomes, and that the programs should be allowed to continue.

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Brexit and the Electoral College

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Trey & Ken start the show this week breaking from the normal format and discussing a topic that does not cover “American politics and policy” directly. Instead the pair discuss Brexit. After talking about the complex potential outcomes of Brexit and the looming hard deadline the pair turn to discus the idea of nationalism more broadly.

Trey begins by suggesting nationalism is the underlying cause of Brexit. Ken sees nationalism as inherently racist. Trey, a supporter of open borders at home, cautions that nationalism is a more important variable than he has given credit. He sees a credible argument against his own position for open borders and wonders if the two of them have not missed reasonable pushback.

Trey & Ken close the episode with a listener question. The question concerns what would happen to American presidential elections if electoral college votes were given out on the basis of proportional representation instead of winner take all. Both Trey & Ken have slightly different views but agree that any of these changes depend on how much you value democratic majoritarianism vs. republicanism’s fear of majorities.

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DC vs. Donald Trump, Free Speech on College Campuses, Economics and Elections, The Democratic Primary Field

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Trey & Ken start the show by discussing the novel constitutional law case District of Columbia v. Donald J. Trump. The question in the case concerns an antiquated word, emolument, found in only three places in the constitution. The question pivots on if foreign and domestic entities are involving themselves with Trump properties to get a better reception from President Trump. Ken thinks the case is relatively straightforward, but Trey wonders how much the Supreme Court would want to involve itself in a potentially ignorable decision.

After that, they talk about President Trump’s executive order concerning free speech on college campus. Trey & Ken learn they are both supporters and members of the same free speech organization and are happy with the principles laid out in the order. The order itself, however, seems to do nothing that isn’t already taking place on college campuses. Trey suggests it is more of a position stance than a policy stance.

Then it’s time to discuss the economy. Recent economic conditions are showing a deeply healthy economy. The only cloud being the ballooning federal deficit. Trey & Ken have a bit of disagreement over the causes of this good news. Then the two discuss the economic models that suggest that President Trump would easily win reelection in this climate. Trey & Ken talk political vs. economic forecast models and debate the extent to which minimum wage increases explain weekly worker wage growth.

Trey & Ken close the show by talking about the robust Democratic primary field. Ken discusses his top three candidates while Trey ponders if Booker has not been given his due. Trey thinks Democrats have a tougher general election regardless of the winner given the current economic conditions and Ken is worried his predictions are too early to matter.

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Anti-Trump Conspiracy, Online Media, Late-Term Abortions, Is Mike Naive on Immigration?

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In this listener response episode, Mike and Kristin address these listener questions:

  • In the light of recently released testimony, can we conclude that elements in the intelligence community worked to sabotage Donald Trump?
  • Is online media transparent enough about changing stories?
  • Is opposition to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act tantamount to support for infanticide?
  • Is Mike being naive about border security?

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Trump Vetoes ‘No Emergency’ Resolution, Boeing & the FAA, Trump’s Budget, Beto’s In, College Admissions Scandal

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Mike & Kristin start the show by discussing the Senate’s vote to rescind the national emergency declared by President Trump, and Trump’s veto of the Congressional resolution. They agree that there’s little chance the veto will be overridden, but it’s still likely to be a long time before any more walls get built given all the legal hurdles the administration will have to overcome.

After that, they talk about why the U.S. trailed the rest of the world in grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8 in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Mike thinks it may have something to do with Boeing’s political clout in the U.S., which Kristin also sees as a factor. Kristin says that we should be at least somewhat concerned that the world took its cue from China as opposed to the U.S. and that we may need to more carefully consider commercial aircraft regulation.

Then it’s a look at President Trump’s 2020 budget. Like almost all presidential budgets, it’s largely dead on arrival but even so it gives us a sense of what the administration’s priorities are – in this case defense and walls. Kristin argues that this makes sense – President Trump is looking toward 2020 and wants to keep his base supportive and engaged. Mike points out the chicanery the administration engaged in to boost the defense budget and laments what he sees as incredible fiscal irresponsibility of ‘tax cut & borrow’ Republicans.

Next, Mike & Kristin talk about Beto O’Rourke’s entry into the crowded Democratic presidential hopeful field. Kristin doesn’t think much of O’Rourke, but Mike likes his more moderate stances, at least compared to a number of other prominent Democratic candidates. But he thinks O’Rourke isn’t experienced enough and favors former governors like Colorado’s John Hickenlooper.

They close the show by talking about the college admissions scandal. Mike makes the point that this, while troubling, is much less of a problem than the larger system of legal privilege that gives kids from wealthy families a leg up in the admissions process. Kristin agrees, and both Mike & Kristin feel that there need to be some fairly fundamental changes to our education system (which may be the topic of a special policy show they hope to do at some point in the future).

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Mark Godsey on The Innocence Project and Blind Injustice

Mike talks to Mark Godsey, a former federal prosecutor who’s currently a professor of law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. Professor Godsey is the co-founder and director of the Ohio Innocence Project, which is one of the most active and successful Innocence Projects in the country. He’s also the author of Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions.

Topics Mike & Mark discuss include:

  • the scope of the wrongful convictions problem
  • the prosecutorial mindset and wrongful convictions
  • main reasons for wrongful convictions
  • how Innocence Projects work to free the wrongfully convicted
  • making it easier to free the wrongfully convicted
  • how to decrease wrongful convictions

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For The People Act, Ilhan Omar & Anti-Semitism, New Trump Investigations, Manafort Sentencing

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Mike and Jay start the show by discussing H.R. 1, the ‘For The People Act’ recently passed by House Democrats. Mike thinks it’s a great start toward fixing some of the basic flaws in our representative system. ALthough Jay agrees with Mitch McConnell about the horribleness of the bill, Mike and Jay do find some common ground, both for and against elements of the legislation.

Next, they get into the remarks made by Rep. Ilhan Omar and the resulting House resolution against anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim speech. Mike feels that Omar’s comment was taken out of context and that she makes some important points about how we often label those who question U.S. policy toward Israel. Jay argues that while Omar may not be an anti-Semite, she has a record of previous remarks and she surely knew that the words she used were unnecessarily inflammatory.

After that, the Guys talk about the latest Trump investigations. Mike believes that the House is casting a broad net because there’s so much corruption in the Trump administration to investigate, whereas Jay – while not denying ethical issues in the administration – feels it’s more of a partisan fishing expedition.

Finally, Mike & Jay discuss the sentencing of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Mike believes that Judge T. S. Ellis may have let his personal bias influence both his conduct toward the prosecution during the trial as well as his sentence of Manafort. Jay’s no fan of judicial bias, but he doesn’t see the Ellis’ sentence as being an abuse of discretion.

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Matthew Pressman on the Liberal Values That Shaped the News

Mike talks with media expert Matthew Pressman, an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Seton Hall University. Prior to earning his doctorate in history, Dr. Pressman worked for eight years at Vanity Fair, where his articles about the news media won the 2010 Mirror Award for Best Commentary (digital media). He’s the author of On Press: The Liberal Values That Shaped the News.

Topics Mike & Matt discuss include:

  • the shift from ‘straight news’ to interpretation
  • the meaning of objectivity in the news
  • how commercial pressures shape news coverage
  • the inherent conservative bias of pre-1960s news media
  • the conservative critique of ‘liberal media’
  • racism and sexism in newsrooms and news coverage
  • the rise of the reader-oriented newspaper
  • the media’s response to Donald Trump
  • if today’s media is better than the pre 1960s media

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House vs Trump on Emergency, Trump Walks on Kim, Medicare for All, Big Pharma, Cohen Testimony

Mike and Jay start the show with a discussion of what’s next now that the House has voted to rescind President Trump’s national emergency declaration. They agree that there won’t be the votes to override the inevitable presidential veto, but given the various constitutional uncertainties, a lot has to go right (or wrong, depending on your view) before any wall-building happens.

Next is a look at the summit between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. Mike and Jay both believe that Trump was right to walk away without a deal, though Mike disagrees with President Trump’s habit of what he sees as foolish agreement with dictators who deny knowledge of human rights abuses.

After that it’s the House Democrats ‘Medicare for All’ plan. Jay thinks it’s an awful idea for all sorts of reasons, and while Mike agrees with the goal of a single-payer system, he thinks that this plan tries to do too much too quickly. On a semi-related note, the Guys discuss the Senate testimony of pharmaceutical executives this week. They both think that the drug pricing system in the United States is a big mess, but Jay’s much more inclined to trust market mechanisms to sort things out than Mike is.

The show closes with former Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s testimony to Congress. Neither Mike nor Jay was surprised by what Cohen said, and they don’t see anything approaching a ‘smoking gun’ in his testimony. About the only thing that that’s absolutely clear is that Donald Trump has surrounded himself with some awfully sleazy characters.

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