Krystal and Saagar examine the Trump investigation, Biden’s agenda, midterm senate contests, Jackson Mississippi’s water crisis, WaPo losing money, life expectancy dropping, California’s progressive policies, & Biden’s healthcare provisions!
John Abramson: https://www.harpercollins.com/product…
Timestamps: Counterpoints: 0:00 – 6:44 Trump: 6:45 – 26:13 Biden: 26:14 – 36:00 Midterms: 36:01 – 57:09 Jackson: 57:10 – 1:03:58 WaPo: 1:03:59 – 1:12:11 Saagar: 1:12:12 – 1:22:14 Krystal: 1:22:15 – 1:36:55 John Abramson: 1:36:56 – 1:51:23
Krystal and Saagar announce that Ryan Grim and Emily Jashinsky will be joining Breaking Points with their own Friday show called Counterpoints beginning on September 16th
9/1 NEWSLETTER: Trump Docs, Biden Speech, Midterm Races, Life Expectancy, & More!
A big personnel announcement we have been finalizing is now official. Ryan Grim and Emily Jashinsky will be leaving The Hill to join the Breaking Points
network with their own show called Counter Points
premiering on September 16th. They will be airing an audio and video version of the show every Friday and the new Producer will play a major role in all facets of the broadcast. Please email any feedback or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Department of Justice submitted its response
to Donald Trump’s request to a special master to review the classified documents taken by the FBI. The filing provided new details into the potential obstruction of their probe by the former president and it included a photo of classified documents on the floor next to a box. Classification markings on the documents like ‘TOP SECRET’ are visible
to the naked eye; presumably the point being made by the DOJ. A tidbit from the picture making the rounds online is an unflattering TIME magazine cover Trump kept with his stash of documents. Trump criticized
the viral photo on his TRUTH Social platform and reiterated his argument that the documents were declassified because he said so. A hearing on the special master request by Trump is slated for 1PM today in front of a judge. The DOJ is likely to wait past the midterms
to charge Trump to prevent the prosecution from impacting elections. Charges could be filed under seal before the elections if they decide his conduct violated the law. Bringing charges against a former president would be unprecedented, especially if they are revealed in the lead up to the midterms. The developments of the hearing and the possibility of Trump being indicted for obstruction of justice will be followed closely on this show.
Fox News had strange reactions to the DOJ statement and the documents in the picture. Host Steve Doocy questioned
why top secret documents were sitting in Trump’s desk in a moment of disbelief. He noted that Trump and his handlers did not follow the protocol for declassifying documents that is separate from a president declaring them to be declassified. Conservative media personality Dan Bongino issued his skepticism
of the classification markings and the political agenda of the FBI. Coverage of the Trump investigation on Fox News has varied depending on the program and it reflects the divide on the right about how to approach the issue.
The DOJ investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents has put the former president back into the center of American politics. His presence has contributed to Democratic gains in the midterm landscape by enabling the party to run against him. In a Pennsylvania town hall Tuesday night, Joe Biden took aim at Trump and his role in the January 6th Capitol riot. He condemned
the rioters and their attacks on law enforcement, while adding his opposition to defunding the police and defunding the FBI. This stance in support of law enforcement serves to criticize left wing activists within the Democratic party and ardent Trump supporters in the Republican party. Additionally, it reinforced the Democratic messaging about GOP extremism and the former president that has boosted their standing with independent voters. The broader theme
about a ‘battle for the soul of the nation’ will be addressed by Biden in a prime time speech on Thursday in Philadelphia. His message harkens back to Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign when Biden positioned himself as an electable, moderate voice in contrast to the chaos of Donald Trump two years ago. He was victorious in a close election that Trump and his most passionate backers still believe was stolen from him. These theories combined with encouragement from Trump and his inner circle culminated in the Capitol riot on January 6th, 2021.
Much speculation on this show and elsewhere has gone into whether Biden will run for re-election at his advanced age. A significant chunk of Democratic voters would prefer a different candidate and younger politicians have been jockeying for national attention to possibly fill the need. A filing by a Biden for president committee with the FEC set off a flurry of tweets about him announcing a campaign for re-election. A Democratic official told Fox News
the update concerned a member of the committee taking a government job meaning the position had to be updated. The filing is not about Biden’s run for re-election, a decision that will continue to generate speculation.
Former GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin was defeated
in a special congressional election to fill the seat of Republican Don Young after his passing earlier this year. In a ranked-choice voting election, she was defeated by Democrat Mary Peltola in the instant runoff where rankings factored into the outcome. A narrow margin, Peltola won with 52% of the vote to Palin’s 47%. Once a conservative star, the former Alaska Gov. competed for GOP votes with a moderate Republican from a political dynasty in the state backed by some in the GOP establishment. She was backed by Donald Trump, who won Alaska handily in the 2020 election, and this special election is another example of Democrats over performing 2020 margins in Republican districts. Peltola will be the first woman and first native American to represent Alaska, fueled by a positive campaign centered around abortion and fishermen. She will compete for the congressional seat for a second time against Palin in the midterms and it will be another close, competitive race.
Amidst Democratic momentum in a midterm landscape once dominated by Republicans, a new slate of polls have come out about the most competitive senate races. In Pennsylvania, Fetterman is up four points
on Dr. Oz with five percent undecided in a poll by Emerson college. This comes as millions of dollars in ads come in for Dr. Oz from GOP groups. Fetterman announced he will not
be participating in the first debate scheduled for next week. Dr. Oz has hammered Fetterman for ducking the debates with taunts about
his health status and political record. After noticeable slurring of his words, it was revealed that Fetterman is in speech therapy to further his recovery from a stroke. Oz has attacked the Fetterman campaign for concealing the details of his stroke that took place right before the Democratic primary. The tv doctor has hit his opponent on crime in a national ad campaign that Fetterman responded to by defending his record on the issue. A lingering problem for Oz has been the lack of GOP base enthusiasm for his campaign that could be important if not addressed by November.
In Georgia, Republican candidate Herschel Walker narrowly leads incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a new poll
by the conservative Trafalgar Group. An Emerson college poll put the two at a similarly close margin with Walker narrowly ahead. The Trump-backed former NFL and college football star has taken heat for bizarre remarks throughout the campaign. When asked about this, Walker touted
his fitness and ability to ride a bike to Newsmax. He references a video of Joe Biden falling off a bike in the interview. After public turmoil within his campaign, the Walker operation has brought in new personnel and kept him competitive against Warnock. The Democratic first term incumbent has been running on his record in his two year senate tenure after he replaced a retiring Republican.
A crisis in the water supply has hit Jackson, Mississippi leaving residents without access to reliable running water. After tons of rainfall and flooding, the city’s main water treatment facility was breached, bringing it to the brink of collapse. A state of emergency was declared
by GOP Gov. Tate Reeves and schools, restaurants, and businesses are temporarily closing. The problems began when heavy rainfall caused the nearby Pearl river to flood that spilled into the city over the weekend. River water entered the water treatment facility on Monday and now bottled water will be distributed by the city and state. Additionally, non-potable water will be brought via tanker truck for non drinking purposes including fighting fires, flushing toilets, and meeting other needs. People are being encouraged
to boil water for three minutes before drinking it and to conserve their water resources. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba stated
during an interview with Democracy Now that the crisis has been decades in the making due to neglected maintenance of the water facility. Back in 2021, tens of thousands of residents lost water during a winter storm that highlighted Jackson’s water problems. The emergency measures and guidelines will be in place indefinitely for over 160,000 residents who live in the city.
The Washington Post is facing business struggles
caused by the paper’s loss of subscribers and advertising revenue since the Trump presidency concluded. Projections show the Post is set to lose money this year after being profitable during the duration of the Trump administration. They are now considering layoffs of low performers that management believes are a substantial part of the newsroom. The tumultuous, public newsroom drama that unfolded a few months ago did not suggest a well functioning management team behind the scenes. Political commentator Josh Barro pointed out how the Washington Post has not diversified its information portfolio in the way competitor publications
have. The New York Times has invested in games, food, cooking, reviews, podcasting, graphics, sports, and other information not related to the news. Likewise, The Wall Street Journal has a large portfolio of business and market related news and it has avoided making itself into a Democratic friendly publication. A daily news offering with a center-left, Democratic perspective is the main offering from WaPo without much else. A plan to acquire food publications or tech sites would be sensible for the paper considering its owner Jeff Bezos’ Amazon fortune. The Washington Post had been planning for struggles like this before the Trump phenomenon prevented an adjustment for a world with less engagement of mainstream news. Time will tell whether they will be able to adjust to a post-Trump media environment or if his return revives The Washington Post.
In his monologue, Saagar takes a look at the declining life expectancy in the United States and how the media is framing the issue. It had been steadily increasing
throughout the 20th century because of technological progress and medical breakthroughs. But it began to slow in the mid 2000s and then hit negative in 2015. Consequences of Iraq, financial crisis, and the opioid epidemic were laid bare starting in 2015 to very little discussion. Life expectancy dropped for the first time in decades
and it started to get attention during the run up to the 2016 election. Deaths even rose for those under 65 due to Alzheimer’s, lung disease, kidney disease, diabetes, opioids, and suicide. From that point forward, the same headline about life expectancy came every year, with the worst trend
the US had seen since World War I in 2018. The data in 2017 showed drug overdoses becoming a main cause of death for Americans under the age of 65. All of this data came before covid struck. America was a deeply sick, unhealthy nation that got his with a disease most deadly for the vulnerable; elderly, obese, and those with health issues. Policies enacted to combat covid exacerbated the other causes of death shown by spikes in drug and alcohol use during lockdowns.
The results are now in full bloom and the results are devastating. US life expectancy between 2020 and 2021 dropped by three years, the largest two year drop in over a century. These numbers were driven primarily by the covid pandemic and that is what the media is focusing on. But the deeper numbers show how the troubling trends before covid accelerated with surges in heart disease, liver disease, drug overdoses, and more. It’s a reflection of higher obesity, more alcohol abuse, and growing drug addiction throughout America. For young people it is even more stark with fentanyl overdose
becoming the leading cause of death for those aged 18-45. The underlying figures are important because the current media framing makes the life expectancy drop all about the pandemic, even though this trend began years earlier. This decline will likely continue for years to come and it represents a fight for American civilization as a whole. Societies that find themselves in an irreversible pattern of declining life expectancy typically do not turn out well, such as the late Soviet Union
. The problem is even worse because life expectancy is increasing for the rich while dropping for the lower classes. If America begins to acknowledge the underlying causes of life expectancy declining it can begin to reverse the trend before it’s too late.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar discuss the drop in life expectancy before covid because of obesity, alcoholism, suicide, and deaths of despair in the American underclass. We have to ask why America performed worse during the pandemic starting with the broken healthcare system. It is structured around greed and profit leading to chronic illnesses and giving people pills instead of treating underlying conditions. Wealthy Americans live longer than poor Americans in large part because of this system. The chronic heart disease, diabetes, and end of life care constitutes a large part of spending on healthcare. People are so down and miserable that they are resorting to alcohol and drugs which is a larger problem than the healthcare system. Reducing obesity could combat all of these problems and the solution will be obesity drugs instead of common sense lifestyle changes, reform to the food industry, and infrastructure made for walking. Vaccine skepticism is the best reflection of how broken the American healthcare system is.
In her monologue, Krystal dives into the shift away from the Clinton model of bipartisan neoliberal triangulation being demonstrated by California Gov. Gavin Newsom. He is an ambitious political climber placing big bets on a political agenda that steers away from the old Democratic consensus on labor, climate, and healthcare. If he succeeds, California will be a leftist bastion and if not more people will leave for Texas. The state is making big moves on EVs, requiring 100% of new vehicles to be electric by 2035. Auto industry giants and the public support the mandate
because automakers have been aggressively transitioning towards EVs by building new facilities and securing raw materials. They are hoping electric cars will be more affordable at scale and the car buying public is fully on board. California has long set national standards
on car emissions with its market power and their new law could become a de facto federal policy. Questions will have to be answered on the high prices of EVs and the lagging supply chains that could make California’s mandate amount to a tax on the middle class. The Golden State’s straining power grid
raises even more questions about the feasibility of transitioning entirely to electric cars.
California Democrats have blocked universal health care but they are now taking on big pharma. Insulin prices in America are astronomical
and pharma companies are ripping off Americans for an essential drug. California has decided to invest in a public option for insulin by embarking on a project to directly produce cheaper insulin unless big pharma sabotages it. The most ambitious proposal is the labor bill that could dramatically raise wages for fast food workers and move towards a sectoral bargaining
system of resolving labor disputes. Their legislation would be first steps to a system that would enable workers to bargain by sector rather than each individual workplace through a ten member government created board with industry and worker representatives. Fast food workers would be permitted to set the wage floor at $22/hour and set standards for the entire industry nationwide. Newsom has not indicated whether he would sign the bill and the donor class will fight the legislation tooth and nail. It has already been weakened in the senate to limit the extent workers can negotiate but it would still be transformational for the fast food industry. Politicians like Newsom who move where the wind blows have not changed, but perhaps the political winds have.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar examine the dabbling in government intervention by political opportunists like Joe Biden and Gavin Newsom that reveals how politics is shifting. California is a naturally beautiful state with a dramatic disparity in living because of taxes, crime, homelessness, traffic, power, and other reasons why it is a dysfunctional state. Not everyone in California lives in the big cities and industry will have to serve these drivers. Banning gas vehicles is a less effective option than making EVs undeniable because a subset of drivers will always need gas like those who use diesel. California by law is allowed to set its own environmental and emissions standards that other states adopt with trigger laws forcing automakers to follow suit. The state’s sheer market size can lead to major change, however the rush to EVs could lead to dropping vehicle standards and outsourced supply chains to lower prices. Parts being made in China, mining for metals in other nations, and America not building nuclear power has hampered development of electricity grids and renewable power sources that will have to be addressed. Electric vehicle infrastructure is more developed in California but America is still decades behind on nationwide charging networks especially for vehicles other than Tesla. The market will not naturally fix these problems without the state and federal governments stepping in to make it a possibility. America will have to build out the infrastructure necessary to facilitate the transition to electric vehicles in a successful way.
Krystal and Saagar are joined by big pharma expert and author John Abramson to better understand the healthcare provisions of Biden’s most recent legislation and the decline in life expectancy Saagar discussed earlier. He has written extensively on big pharma and America’s broken healthcare system. The covid pandemic stressed American healthcare but the life expectancy drop is an indictment of the system as a whole. In 2019 before the pandemic, Americans lived 3 years less than the citizens of other wealthy nations and the covid pandemic brought this to five years less than other countries. It hit Americans even harder than the citizenry on other developed nations. The provision in Biden’s legislation that got the most press was Medicare being able to negotiate drug prices, but the package will not be enough to reduce drug prices overall. It only handles a select amount of drugs that have been on the market for an extensive period of time with no generic version coming out, so very few drugs on patent will be able to be negotiated. There is an enormously high priced brand name drug business in the US and the Biden bill will hardly clip the profits of this industry. Big pharmaceutical companies are the biggest reason why the system continues to be broken and another reason is the complicated nature of the system that prevents people from understanding the system. America has no health technology assessments and drug companies can charge whatever they want, preventing doctors from understanding treatments and allowing drug companies to promote drugs that are no more effective than older therapies. This is the biggest reason why American healthcare cannot perform better than other countries; doctors lack knowledge of new drugs compared to old ones. Pharma has been angry and hyperbolic about the price negotiations in the Biden legislation even though it addresses a miniscule amount of drugs on the market. He believes that state government intervention to create a public option for drugs is a promising policy especially because limiting drug copays can lead to drug companies will pressure insurance companies to neutralize the market benefits of government funded cheaper drugs. Most of the insulin used by the US are for people with type 2 diabetes despite the lack of evidence of its superiority to older, cheaper insulin that drug companies cannot profit off of. Doctors have been misled to prescribe the more expensive insulin to their patience by drug companies who profit enormously off this drug.
Thank you for reading the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar newsletter. We are so excited for Friday Counterpoints with Ryan and Emily that is only possible because of you. Same can be said for the live show and the new hire who will be joining the team. The next full show will be on Tuesday because of Labor Day. In the meantime, we will have weekend content on the channel!