Krystal and Saagar discuss the Ukraine counteroffensive, Federal Reserve policy, GOP agenda, Jackson water crisis, 9/11 in retrospect, US healthcare system, punishing big colleges, & more!
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Timestamps: Announcements: 0:00 – 5:11 Ukraine: 5:12 – 26:27 Fed: 26:28 – 42:47 Midterms: 42:48 – 58:42 Jackson: 58:43 – 1:06:05 9/11: 1:06:06 – 1:15:08 Krystal: 1:15:09 – 1:24:54 Saagar: 1:24:55 – 1:36:50 Jeff Stein: 1:36:51 – 1:39:39
9/12 NEWSLETTER: Ukraine War, Fed Policy, GOP Agenda, 9/11 Remembrance, Student Debt, & More!
Welcome to the September 12th, 2022 Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar newsletter. Yesterday marked the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our nation. We will never forget the American heroes who sacrificed their lives and the countless victims of these attacks.
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This weekend marked a major turning point in the Ukrainian counteroffensive
against Russian forces situated in the southern and eastern parts of their nation. The Ukrainian military says it reclaimed over 3000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) of territory in figures not verified by independent sources. Their troops entered the crucial towns
of Izyum and Kupiansk currently held by Russian forces as bitter fighting around the towns continued. Russia’s defense ministry confirmed the retreat by its forces they say is allowing them to regroup around key territory. They were caught off guard by the counter attack by Ukraine and questions are being asked by Putin allies
about Russian military capabilities. During the harsh winter to come for Ukraine, the fate of the war could be decided
according to Ukrainian President Zelensky. He says the coming 90 days will determine the future of his country after 30 years of independence. The Russians began building up troops along Ukraine’s border in January of this year and attacked in late February. Additionally, Zelensky called for more support from allies during this crucial period. American intelligence
played a vital role in the planning by Ukrainian forces before launching their counteroffensive. Undoubtedly, US weapons and continued military assistance will play a major role in the efforts of Ukraine’s military.
The Federal Reserve’s number two ranked policymaker stated that Fed interest rate hikes will bring down
rampant inflation. Lael Brainard, the Fed’s Vice Chairwoman, stated in a speech that the Fed is in it for as long as it takes to bring down inflation. She indicated that interest rates would have to increase further later this year, even though doing so would slow the economy down. Officials are on a path to raising interest rates by 0.75 percentage points for the third straight increase of this amount. Markets have factored in this Fed increase into expectations since Chairman Powell’s speech last month. The interest rate increases by the Fed are at the fastest clip since the 1980s and have brought interest rates up from zero to 2.50%. Policymakers will be facing a trade-off of raising rates to combat inflation without raising them too fast causing unnecessary harm to the economy. However, putting a stop to interest rate increases too soon could lead to higher inflation continuing for longer than it should. In an interview, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) expressed the concerns
held by some that Fed rate hikes will not sufficiently curb inflation while bringing pain to working Americans. A study published
by the Fed pointed out the severe recession that could come due to interest rate hikes. The study is particularly concerned with the Fed raising interest rates too quickly, as it did during the depression of 1920. It is unlikely to persuade top brass at the Federal Reserve to change course.
Inflation has been a major issue in the midterms so far, but with lowering gas prices
its salience is beginning to lower. Some Americans are learning to live with inflation and others are feeling more positive about the economy because gas prices have dropped significantly
over the past 100 days. The national average is a tick over $3.50/gallon after it peaked at over $5/gallon a few months ago. Sustained drops in the oil markets along with a variety of other factors has led to gas prices becoming a less pressing issue for the American people. But there is a possibility prices begin to increase with the announcement of a production cut
by OPEC. Additional factors such as fall maintenance and geopolitical instability could jeopardize the sustained drop in gas prices. What happens next will be followed closely on this show.
With inflation being a less pressing midterm issue, Republicans are seeking a reset
as the campaigns drive into high gear. Abortion has become a losing issue for them and expectations of a red wave have gone by the wayside. A core part of the reset is the ‘Commitment to America’ agenda being rolled out by GOP House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy. Its purpose is to convince voters why they should vote for Republicans instead of simply voting against Democrats. Inspired by 1994’s ‘Contract for America’, the agenda is vaguely centered around a strong economy, border security, crime reduction, confronting big tech, and numerous investigations. Not included in the agenda are the election conspiracy theories promoted by Donald Trump and plenty of the candidates he has endorsed in races across the country. The GOP is hoping the former president will move
some of his $99 million of PAC money into senate races, especially for his hand-picked candidates struggling with fundraising. Trump’s money is in his Save America PAC which is currently under investigation
by the Department of Justice for its fundraising practices. The Super PAC raised its money by promising supporters action on Trump’s unproven election claims even though fundraisers knew they were false. Money from the PAC has been used for supporting organizations and individuals close to the former president. Misuse of funds in this manner could be a financial crime and played a major role in the House January 6th committee’s hearings earlier this year.
Jackson, Mississippi’s water crisis is now being investigated
by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency’s Office of Inspector General has sent personnel to Jackson with the purpose of collecting data and conducting interviews related to the city’s water system. Any evidence of criminal activity will be referred to the Justice Department for potential prosecution as was the case with the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Jackson had been under a boil notice when in late August, high rainfall generated flooding that led to problems in its deteriorating water plant. Mississippi’s National Guard was called in to assist with water distribution while essential components of daily life have been disrupted for residents. Videos have shown the running water with a dark brown
color, clearly unsuitable for drinking and a safety hazard. Neglected water infrastructure and the large black population of Jackson, MS have been cited by residents
as reasons why the long standing problem reached a crisis level.
The 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was solemnly commemorated on Sunday by Americans across the nation. An attack that completely changed the country and the world as we know it, the consequences of 9/11 still have major ramifications in politics today. This comes as more young Americans grow up after 9/11 happened or without recollection of the attack. Nightly news on September 10th, 2001 was a routine affair
with no possibility in the minds of Americans that the world would fundamentally change the next day. One of the terrorists who plotted 9/11 was recently killed in a US drone strike announced by President Biden to much less fanfare than it would have in an earlier time. Even as the west shifts its focus from the Middle East, the US foreign policy consensus is still shaped by the response to the 9/11 attack. Endless crusades in far away lands defined by secrecy, mission creep, unlimited spending, media complicity, and bipartisan agreement are still a major part of American foreign policy. The establishment’s response to Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan after two decades was reflective of how little the consensus has shifted.
In her monologue today, Krystal ponders the basic trade off between liberty and order inherent in US discussions of life expectancy. The decline in life expectancy even before covid is a deeply revealing sign of America failing its people. Accelerated by the pandemic, life expectancy decline was alarming
between 2020 and 2021. From 2019 to 2021, the average plummeted from 79 years to 76 years, with some groups hit harder than others. US life expectancy lags compared to other wealthy nations
and is closer to countries like Slovakia and Turkey. Some data indicates that during the pandemic, America dropped below
China in life expectancy. Caveats being that the US data could be adjusted because it is provisional, and the distrust of Chinese government statistics. The CCP has an interest in cooking the books to salvage its zero covid policy. Nonetheless, the 2020 data from OECD estimates still has China surpassing the United States in life expectancy. Comparing US data to China is a good reminder that years alive can be separate from quality of life; China’s covid policy might have mitigated deaths at the cost of people being unable to leave their apartments to obtain basic supplies. Societies are tasked with balancing liberty and safety, which America responds to by prioritizing liberty. Our unique gun and car cultures are signifiers of America being a nation willing to accept higher loss of life in exchange for liberty. One might lump the US covid approach into the discussion, but the American healthcare system should be at the center of the discussion. If the US had single payer healthcare, one third of covid deaths could have been prevented according to
a Yale study. When Americans do not have access to healthcare, they put off going to the doctor until problems are acute. It also contributes to drug overdoses, the other major contributor to life expectancy falling. Treatment for drug addiction is available to a select few and the addict is a money maker for drug companies. Arguments in favor of the current healthcare system are often based on liberty and freedom, but what kind of system prevents treatment or puts it in the hands of profit centric companies. A major reason for US life expectancy dropping is the for-profit healthcare system that produces worse outcomes at higher costs. America does not have to sacrifice personal freedom to live longer and healthier lives if we decide to change this system.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar look at the comparisons between other western nations and how they did not have the massive drop in life expectancy. Regardless of China’s numbers, the situation in America is bleak and the profit motive has generated major hurdles in the healthcare system. A major problem of the US healthcare system is the fake shortage of nurses and doctors created by credentialing institutions to generate higher salaries for extremely expensive medical schools to pay back their debt. A chain of profit making is set up that makes American consumers pay the final bill unlike countries with universal healthcare. Most people do not want to grapple with the doctors and nurses who would be paid less in a universal healthcare system and how they are incentivized to keep the current structures going. One piece of fixing America’s declining life expectancy is fixing the healthcare system that is a uniquely American problem.
In his monologue today, Saagar focuses on the problems on campuses and classrooms of America’s colleges and universities. All of these institutions have been given a trillion dollar lifeline by Biden’s student debt cancellation. One of them is Oberlin College, a liberal arts school in Ohio charging $80,000/year in tuition. For a school catered to elite managerial class students, its racial politics are exactly what you would expect. A judge has ordered
Oberlin to pay a local bakery $36.59 million after it was defamed as racist. What happened is that in 2016, a black student tried to buy wine with a fake ID while shoplifting two more bottles under his coat. The son of the owner manning the cash register chased him down and the student was arrested. In response, the campus exploded with protests and the administration distributed fliers saying the establishment was racist. Oberling stopped placing orders from the bakery for campus events and even in its payment refused to admit wrongdoing. It matters because the people who participate in this madness go on to work for powerful institutions and we are subsidizing this behavior.
Another more recent incident underscores the problem of these institutions. At a women’s volleyball match between Duke and BYU, a player for Duke claimed she heard a racial slur from students in the BYU crowd. They claimed to have identified the person involved but the person claimed they did not say anything. Campus police got involved
and reviewed video footage showing the man was not saying anything. BYU responded by carrying out an investigation with video evidence, audio evidence, and over 50 interviews of people on the scene. Their findings could not
find evidence of the alleged slur. Nonetheless, the volleyball player and Duke are sticking with
their version of events. In other words, despite not having a shred of evidence this woman and her university are slandering another university and its fans as racist. Cases like this happen at woke higher education institutions frequently and show why they need to be destroyed. Faculty and administrators need to be fired and advocates for student loan forgiveness have not laid out a case against these institutions. Burn them to the ground if all they’re good for is dividing America on false pretenses.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar examine the higher education institutions ripping society apart. They are being propped up by the student loan system subsidized by the federal government where universities are terrified by the most outspoken, fringe students. Pressure from students comes in part from their status as customers in a business. In a private university this business model might not be fixable but in public universities, coddling the ideological fringe can be reformed. Solutions can be endowment taxes, spending regulations, capping tuition increases, and other regulations that remove deference from the universities themselves. Using cultural fights as an excuse to defund universities began with the Reagan administration. That is how you end up with the major problems in the system. Rather than focusing on education, they have to cater to fringe students and other incentives. Stripping funding could be the root of the problems instead of solving it, so leveraging public funding to reform universities could be the more effective way of fixing them.
Due to technical difficulties, the guest segment has been scrapped. Thank you for understanding. We were hoping to talk with Jeff Stein about conservative lawsuits
challenging Biden’s student debt cancellation.
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