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Breaking Points: 8/1/22 FULL UNCUT SHOW The fight over burn pits legislation, Dem polling on Biden, more

Krystal and Saagar break down the fight over burn pits legislation, Manchin-Schumer budget deal, Trump’s LIV Golf event, Dem polling on Biden, Jan 6th hypocrisy, Dems midterm boost, Dr. Oz’s political failures, & flawed polling data!

Merch: https://breaking-points.myshopify.com/ Tickets: https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0E… Kyle Kondik: https://centerforpolitics.org/crystal… https://www.ohioswallow.com/book/The+… Timestamps: Burn Pits: 0:0020:49 Manchin Bill: 20:5036:41 LIV Golf: 36:4246:07 Polling: 46:0854:57 Hypocrisy: 54:581:02:12 Krystal: 1:02:131:12:06 Saagar: 1:12:071:23:17 Kyle Kondik: 1:23:181:36:21

8/1 NEWSLETTER: Burn Pits, Manchin Bill, LIV Golf, Dem Hypocrisy, Midterm Outlook & More!
Welcome to the August 1st, 2022 Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar premium newsletter. Get your live show tickets here: https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0E005CD6DBFF6D47. Make sure to take advantage of the discounted subscription upgrade for Breaking Points monthly premium subscribers. You can save 20% on the yearly subscription by paying $80 instead of the $100 annual payment. The deal will be gone after today, so upgrade now: https://breakingpoints.supercast.com/subscriber/user/subscription
BURN PITS
The bipartisan bill designed to expand healthcare for veterans suffering from long term complications due to exposure to toxic burn pits has been blocked by Senate Republicans. The decision to block the bill came initially to counteract Democrats’ Manchin-Schumer budget deal that was agreed upon after the CHIPS legislation made it through the Senate. The Senate failed to advance the burn pits legislation, known as the PACT Act, after 41 Republicans opposed the bill. The PACT act would extend healthcare coverage to 3.5 million veterans costing $280 billion over a decade long period. Burn pits were used as a method of waste disposal, exposing military members in Iraq and Afghanistan to deadly toxins. Similar health problems have been faced by those who served in Vietnam and elsewhere when toxic chemicals were used routinely. A leading advocate for the legislation has been liberal comedian and former TV host Jon Stewart. In a speech outside Congress, Stewart blasted Republicans for being cruel and dishonest. He made it known that Senators were lying to veterans groups and even refusing to meet with them. His outrage is emblematic of how Democrats are reacting to the move by Senate Republicans, led by retiring PA Sen. Pat Toomey. The justification for blocking the bill, according to Toomey, is a budgetary gimmick written into the bill by Democrats during negotiations. He says it will give them a $400 billion slush fund to spend at will, and he took a dig at Stewart in the linked CNN appearance explaining how this works. Toomey has proposed an amendment to the bill to remove the accounting change and get the legislation passed. In a tweet, he criticized Democratic colleagues for perceived deception about a spending spree they are trying to put through. When being interviewed by conservative network Newsmax, Stewart challenged Toomey’s justification for blocking the bill and Republican support for the troops. The comedian called out Toomey for what he believes are misleading claims about the spending in the bill. Stewart explained the accounting decisions Toomey has mentioned and why his interpretation of them is incorrect. He then went on to criticize the Republican party for supporting endless wars abroad that create the need for veterans healthcare to begin with. Krystal and Saagar previously interviewed Stewart on the show and praised his work advocating for veterans’ healthcare.
MANCHIN BILL
The Manchin-Schumer budget reconciliation deal is giving liberals renewed hope about passing meaningful legislation before the midterms. The bill has been named the Inflation Reduction Act, yet it primarily focuses on Democrats’ climate priorities. Outside pressure and extended talks behind the scenes over the past two weeks paved the way for the legislative agreement. Only recently, Democrats were fuming at Manchin for rejecting the more ambitious proposals in Joe Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ program. He became a prime scapegoat for the party’s failures and a foil in countless cable news segments. Progressive activists and hill staffers made their displeasure towards party leaders heard. Candidates in Democratic primaries even used Manchin comparisons to defeat moderate candidates. The party is desperate for a Congressional win to flout to voters ahead of what looks to be a difficult midterm election likely to end Democrats’ governing majority in the House. Climate provisions in the bill are geared towards investment in wind, solar, nuclear, and natural gas energy sources. It could lead to cheaper climate technology and lower energy bills for Americans feeling the effects of record high inflation. At the same time, greater investment in nuclear and renewables could advance Democrats climate priorities in the short term. What’s less evident is how the package of taxation and spending will reduce inflation beyond reducing the deficit. It’s unclear if Manchin and Schumer’s agreement will make it out of the Senate, because Sen. Sinema (D-AZ) could still block it. Joe Manchin is optimistic that Sinema will support it after she was heavily involved in crafting it behind the scenes. Though she might use her high leverage to alter the legislation in areas such as the $14 billion carried interest tax loophole— which the bill would end. She’s given Democrats no assurances that she will vote on the party line to get the package through in its original form, and she might allow Republicans to influence the final legislation. Chuck Schumer gambled by publicizing the agreement with Manchin without Sinema’s approval, and her decision will be closely watched in Washington.
LIV GOLF
The Saudi backed LIV Golf league has taken its product to Donald Trump’s New Jersey golf club. Results of the contested golf event have taken a back seat to the politics apparent at the Bedminster golf course. Amid ethics concerns, Trump used the Presidential seal when hosting the players for their event, signaling his approval of the league. This gesture could also signal his deep allegiance to the Saudi kingdom, a close ally of Trump’s in his term. He notoriously whitewashed human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia and bluntly expressed their oil reserves as why America should look past the Jamal Khashoggi murder. The 9/11 families were less than impressed with a Saudi backed league playing 60 miles from ground zero. The LIV Golf league, star golfers, and Donald Trump were slammed for prioritizing greed over patriotism by taking the Saudi money. The families called out Trump’s support for the Saudi Arabians despite the kingdom’s central role in the 9/11 terrorist attack that has been detailed by a memo declassified by the Biden administration. The Saudi Kingdom has never acknowledged or been held accountable for its connections to and funding of the 9/11 terrorists. Ever since the Khashoggi murder and the war in Yemen led to famine, the Saudi regime has looked to rehabilitate its global image. The Trump backed Golf contest, meeting with Joe Biden, a handshake with French President Macron, a fancy tour of Athens, and their ambitious mega city plans have boosted the Saudi image internationally. In a time of rising global oil prices, Saudi Arabia has taken advantage of its leverage over western leaders to repair relations. Their young and ambitious ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, will likely look to the west for more security agreements going forward. Domestic unrest caused by the spike in oil prices makes it more difficult for western leaders to prioritize their stated values over diplomatic engagement. It helps that the Saudis have plenty of money to invest internationally in ventures like the LIV Golf tour.
POLLING
Poll numbers for President Joe Biden are still very bleak within his party. 75% of Democratic voters want someone other than Biden to run for President in 2024. It reflects a sharp increase from earlier this year, as inflation and age concerns hamper Biden. Widespread discontent about the economy and state of the country continues to be shown in low approval ratings for Biden. Consumer confidence has slipped for three straight months and inflation is persisting through the Summer. Back in January and February, 51% of Democrats did not want Biden to run again, demonstrating lowering confidence in the Democratic party. Reasons given for wanting a different candidate have been electability and poor performance. These numbers are especially stark in party voters under the age of 45, a demographic crucial to Democrats’ success in 2020. They are bracing for huge losses in the coming midterm elections, unlikely to be reversed by legislation or poor Republican candidates. On the GOP side, a majority of Republicans do not want Trump to run again. This is up from January and February as well, possibly due to Ron DeSantis national momentum and the Jan 6th hearings. CNN’s poll has a margin of error of plus or minus seven points and 1,002 adults were sampled. A separate poll of Biden and potential Democratic primary rivals put him behind Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Other names with considerable vote share are Gavin Newsom, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris. The Vice President placing seventh with voters of her own party is just another signal that her appointment has been a nightmare. She is lacking in any political future and was rejected by Democrats when she ran in the 2020 primary. Sanders and Warren have ruled out running, leaving few options for progressives. A move to Michigan, a large media presence, and opportunity could compel Buttigieg to challenge his boss to a primary.
HYPOCRISY
Democrats have been taking heat from their own supporters for meddling in GOP primaries on behalf of ‘stop the steal’ candidates. When asked about it, Pelosi defended the party’s decisions because it improves Democrats’ chances of winning elections. A similar defense was made by longtime Democratic strategist James Carville, who defended the politics and ethics of the strategy. He believes it is the right political and moral decision to make because propping up far right candidates helps Democrats win elections. Their defense has generated charges of hypocrisy because of Democrats existential rhetoric about Republicans in general, particularly the kinds they are putting money towards. The party has tried to contrast themselves with Trump world during the January 6th hearings as defenders of democracy against a rogue gang of rioters. But with Democrats promoting candidates who participated in the Capitol riot and supported it, their words ring hollow. This ‘pied piper’ strategy of meddling in primaries to boost more extreme candidates is a highly risky endeavor. If it does not work out, election deniers and extremists will be in powerful national positions. Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 was the ultimate example of this gambit backfiring for Democrats, and the unfavorable political winds could be enough to put hard right candidates over the top.
KRYSTAL
In her monologue, Krystal considers whether the midterms are becoming more favorable for Democrats. A month ago, they looked dead in the water because of Biden’s cratering approval ratings and the malaise of the country. These issues persist, but Democrats have shown signs of life. Independents have shifted towards Democrats since May when abortion became a hot button issue once again. They have gone from being +3 GOP to +8 Dem, making the election landscape much more blue. Four recent polls have Democrats leading in the generic ballot and analysts have given the party a narrow edge in Senate contests. It’s worth noting the propensity of polls to skew towards Democrats and the impact of gerrymandering. How Democrats regained momentum is fairly simple; mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, January 6th hearings, abortion fights, and Senate votes on cultural issues. The chaos of the Trump administration and extreme Republican views on certain cultural issues have been amplified by these developments. The GOP has pursued laws that would ban all abortions and block interstate travel despite how far out of step they are from public opinion. Democrats are capitalizing on their momentum by legislating with the CHIPS Act and the Schumer-Manchin deal. Biden has been more aggressive on gas prices and House Dems are appearing more serious on insider trading.
The political landscape continues to be brutal for Democrats because of historical trends and the state of the economy. Inflation continues to bite and most Americans believe we are in a recession. Voters name the economy as their top issue and they place more trust with Republicans on the matter. President Biden’s approval ratings are dismal in the swing states Democrats are relying on. In Arizona he is minus 20, Pennsylvania minus 19, Georgia minus 13, all of which are extremely difficult to overcome. Historically, Presidential drag has been too much to overcome especially because of high partisanship. Republicans have lined up behind weak candidates from Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, Herschel Walker in GA, to JD Vance in Ohio who could fumble their races. All three of these candidates were victorious because of Donald Trump’s backing and have made their races competitive for Democrats. GOP fundraising struggles are reflective of the party’s difficulties. Small dollar GOP donors have plummeted at the same time they have surged for Democrats. Big GOP donors are pouring money in to fill the gap, but the Democrats will continue to have the financial advantage. Tuesday will bring more primary elections in states across America. Trump endorsed candidates will be on ballots, as will abortion in Kansas. Unlike two months ago, the midterm picture is much more murky than it was before.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar talk about the national trends on gas prices that could continue to benefit Biden. Inflation hitting small donors could be a reason for online fundraising drying up, but it is surging with Democrats in the same period. It’s possible that working class GOP voters are being hit by inflation and affluent Democrats are pouring money into the race. Nonetheless, the national environment has slightly shifted towards Democrats enough for them to be competitive in the Senate.
SAAGAR
Saagar focuses his monologue today on why he was wrong about the Dr. Oz campaign. Saagar believed that Oz had potential to be a powerhouse because of his celebrity status and the low quality of contemporary politicians. Many of them would rather become media personalities and celebrities than actually participate in governance. When Dr. Oz announced he was a daytime TV star who scored massive ratings with older Americans. He has the necessary political skill of communicating in a simple and effective way to the most people possible. Oz was caught in a few scams, but they did not prevent him from developing a connection with millions of Americans on daytime TV. His sunny disposition and charisma should have clicked; it was why Trump endorsed Oz to begin with. So far, it has not resonated with voters in PA, first of all because he is not from the state. Then throughout the GOP primary, he was hammered for not believing in anything or being MAGA. Ideological flexibility was a strength for Donald Trump, unlike Dr. Oz, who was seen by the GOP base as a phony. He left the Republican primary bruised by negative ads and powered through by Trump’s endorsement. Independents have a similar intuition that Dr. Oz is an inauthentic carpetbagger leading to brutal unfavorability numbers in the polls.
Instead of working hard to change voters’ perceptions, Dr. Oz has gone dark on the campaign trail. When the GOP recount was taking place, Oz was fundraising in Florida at one of his mansions. After he won, he went on vacation to Ireland to visit family. During his time abroad, Oz did not pour money into Tv advertising while Fetterman began his scorched earth campaign to paint Oz as a carpetbagger. The vacation was bad enough for the McConnell-powered NRSC to pressure Oz into coming back to the states. According to a Fox News poll, Fetterman is up 11 points and Oz is running a limited slate of cringeworthy ads. They have fixated on painting Fetterman as a socialist instead of tying him to Joe Biden. Dr. Oz has abandoned what made him appealing in favor of a low effort, cookie cutter campaign that led to Saagar being mistaken about his prowess.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar discuss how Dr. Oz is simply bad at politics and the GOP is not helping him. He is talking about Bernie and Fetterman instead of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who are way more unpopular. Oz was not prepared to do the hard work and strategizing that he has delegated to conventional Republican operatives. He still has a chance to win and the race will probably be close between him and Fetterman. If Oz wins, it will be caused by the national winds blowing in his favor.
KYLE KONDIK
Krystal and Saagar are joined by elections analyst Kyle Kondik to better understand the midterm outlook and how it has shifted. 100 days until election day, the GOP is predicted to gain up to 25 seats and with them a House majority. Inflation and the state of the country under Biden are why the Republicans are poised to make gains. Midterms are typically a referendum of the party in power and many voters have expressed this sentiment. Enthusiasm is way down in the Democratic party, and Biden’s approval rating is underwater in swing states. Republicans are beginning with 213 seats after 2020 meaning that the massive waves of 1994 and 2010 are fairly unrealistic because they are starting at a high point. The GOP has difficulties corralling all of its members, meaning they will want the majority to be as large as possible. Forecasting the elections is difficult, even with the generic ballot because Republicans are consistently underestimated. But the possibility they are wrong again is there, in large part because of their inability to reach Republican voters. After labor day, the polls will switch to likely voter models and could become more accurate. It is too early to assess whether the basic political landscape has changed even though Democrats are becoming more optimistic. The economy is the most important issue for voters and by now, people’s perception of the economy is baked in. Enthusiasm measures are definitely important, and the abortion issue could be one that hampers the GOP. Republicans are hoping to nationalize the election by tying Democrats to Biden and running on the struggling economy. Polling errors in 2016 and 2020 have demonstrated flaws in the results, and the industry has tried to adjust their measurements.

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