News Updates

Breaking Points: 9/29/22 FULL UNCUT SHOW The proposed congressional trading ban, Hurricane Ian, Puerto Rico, Russian border chaos, more

Krystal and Saagar discuss the proposed congressional trading ban, Hurricane Ian, Puerto Rico, Russian border chaos, student debt lawsuit, Biden’s latest gaffe, generation covid, Nordstream attack, & the crisis of American men!


Chicago Tickets:…

Richard Reeves:…

Timestamps: Stock Ban: 0:0020:40 Hurricane: 20:4132:18 Russia: 32:1952:44 Student Debt: 52:4558:57 Biden: 58:581:03:37 Krystal: 1:03:381:13:39 Saagar: 1:13:401:22:27 Richard Reeves: 1:22:281:41:30

9/29 NEWSLETTER: Stock Ban, Hurricane Ian, Student Debt, Covid Drop Outs, Nordstream, & More! 
Welcome to the September 29th, 2022 edition of the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar premium newsletter. Get your Chicago live show tickets with the link: More venues and dates will be announced soon!
A reminder to look out for CounterPoints with Ryan Grim and Emily Jashinsky in your inbox. It will come in every Friday an hour later than your usual premium show.
Now to the 9/29 broadcast:
A measure to ban congressional stock trading has been proposed by House Democrats and it is moving towards a vote. The proposal would apply to members, family, senior aides, federal judges, and cabinet officials according to a Punchbowl report. Those affected by the legislation will be given the option to divest from their holdings or place them in a blind trust that fits certain qualifications. House Democratic leaders have expressed concerns about the bill and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer publicly expressed his opposition to the proposal. Additionally, rank-in-file Democrats opposing the bill could join forces with GOP opposition to tank the vote. Questions have been raised about whether the bill will even come to the floor for a vote before members leave town until after election day.
The text has been released to the public and government ethics experts have expressed their concerns. Watchdog Walter Schaub outlined the problems created by the blind trust provision in the proposal that mirrors the arrangement Donald Trump used during his presidency. Ethics watchdogs are given the power to approve any blind trust arrangement the politician requests, weakening government ethics and ensuring politicians investments are placed behind more barriers of secrecy. Documents showing compliance with the bill would be publicly available upon request and ethics committees will be permitted to waive penalties for violating the rules. The justification of “unusual hardship” is cited for waiving penalties without a concrete explanation of what it means. In essence, fake blind trusts will allow politicians to continue investing and profiting from their positions with even less transparency than before. House Democrats’ proposal is unlikely to go anywhere and if it did, the corruption on Capitol Hill would continue. Despite the strong polling in favor of anti-corruption legislation, the inside battle over limiting congressional stock trades has received limited interest from lawmakers and culminated in a toothless, doomed proposal.
 At the same time, 72 members of Congress have violated a law designed to prevent insider trading known as the STOCK Act. They have refused to disclose financial trades as mandated by the law. It exists to combat congressional corruption by forcing lawmakers to be more transparent about financial dealings. Lawmakers not in compliance with the law usually offer up the excuse of ignorance or honest mistakes. Fines for violations are a mere $200 and can be waived by ethics officials in congress. The list of lawmakers refusing to abide by the STOCK act is a bipartisan roster of House members and Senators from across the country.
The state of Florida is being wrecked by Hurricane Ian, a tropical storm that strengthened to a category 4 storm. It has brought catastrophic amounts of rain, wind, flooding, and damage to southwest Florida. It is one of the most powerful storms in US history and already caused mass destruction in Cuba before reaching Florida. Approximately 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate southwest Florida before the storm hit and grew stronger overnight. Florida residents prepared for the storm by boarding up homes and stashing belongings in upper floors of their residence. Winds of 150mph have been recorded and streets have been flooded in western parts of the state as shown by widely circulated footage online. Governor Ron DeSantis has ordered 30,000 lineman and 7,000 national guardsmen to assist search and rescue teams with relief efforts when the weather lightens up. Federal officials have sent 300 ambulances, 3.7 million meals, and 3.5 millions liters of water to serve when the weather dies down. Flash foods could potentially hit areas across the state including Tampa Bay, where rain is expected to reach 20 inches high. Parts of Georgia and South Carolina are preparing to see elevated levels of rain and coastal surge as the storm progresses heading into the weekend. President Biden has pledged to put political differences with Ron DeSantis aside to closely coordinate a crisis response for the people of Florida.
Top officials from Puerto Rico are requesting a waiver to the Jones act to permit more fuel shipments to the island as it recovers from Hurricane Fiona. The legislation officially named the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 requires all goods sent to the island to be on American ships owned and crewed by Americans. It exists to strengthen the domestic shipping industry and has been waived during previous storms. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said preventing the waiver would affect public health, security, and government functions in the US territory. A British Petroleum ship is currently floating off the island’s coast with 300,000 barrels of diesel awaiting entry. The measure is driving up prices of materials needed for Puerto Rico’s recovery, says San Juan archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves. A group of Puerto Rico legislators met with President Biden and urged him to issue a temporary waiver of the Jones Act. Officials have long called for it to be permanently repealed to strengthen the territory’s economy. President Biden granted the desired waiver late last night.
The Russian border has been flooded with draft eligible men fleeing the country to avoid fighting in its war against Ukraine. Sources say 261,000 men have left the country since Putin’s conscription order last week. Trains, buses, flights, and other means of transportation have been overwhelmed by men looking to escape. Some have brought tents and clothes for makeshift beds to sleep in while waiting on line to get out of Russia. New arrivals have been entering Kazakhstan, Georgia, and other bordering countries with Russia without fear of being sent home. They have quickly left those countries in the case of Russian authorities clamping down on refugees. The number of Russians entering the EU has jumped 30% since Putin moved to expand the war. Over 30,000 Russians have entered Finland in the past four days. The Russian government has responded by drafting escapees at the border and blaming draftees mistakenly put into military service.
Results have come in from the sham referendums in the Russian occupied parts of Ukraine. Regional numbers ranged from 87% to 98% of the ‘vote’ in a process facilitated by armed Russian soldiers obtaining ballots at gunpoint. Putin is planning on using the numbers as pretext for officially annexing Ukrainian territory that Moscow claims wants to be part of Russia. It was announced this morning that Putin will deliver a speech on Friday marking the annexation of territories and claiming the war is a defensive conflict about territorial integrity. The United States is responding by providing Ukraine with $1 billion more in security assistance from the Department of Defense. It is the 18th drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories since August of 2021. The package will provide Ukraine with more defense weapons, ammunition, and equipment to defend their country.
The first lawsuit has been filed against President Biden’s executive order to cancel federal student loan debt of $10,000 per borrower. Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian law firm, is filing the lawsuit with plaintiff Frank Garrison who is an attorney at the firm. They argue he has standing because of the tax penalty of Biden’s loan forgiveness which gives him standing against the Education Department. Garrison had been making payments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and debt under the program is not subject to state income taxes. The lawsuit claims Garrison will be worse off because of the policy and did not want it to begin with. Pacific Legal’s lawsuit is arguing Biden’s plan violates the Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act designed to give Congress regulatory authority instead of the executive. If they are able to establish standing under Garrison’s case, the lawsuit is likely to succeed against Biden’s plan. His order was legally justified by applying a law intended for a post-9/11 emergency and citing the covid emergency. A DOJ notice confirming any borrower could opt out of the Biden loan forgiveness plan could refute the PLF lawsuit’s standing. Garrison’s opt out is being worked out by Education Department officials.
President Biden had a gaffe moment at a White House conference on hunger, nutrition, and health. In reference to deceased congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Biden asked “where’s Jackie” when thanking legislators. The administration downplayed the moment after being repeatedly asked about it by a bipartisan chorus of reporters. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed they were jumping to conclusions about what Biden said. The president is planning to sign legislation naming an Indiana VA facility after her and he will visit her family. Walorski and two staffers tragically died in a car accident back in August. Questions will be asked about the administration refusing to acknowledge Biden’s mistake and his old age.
In her monologue, Krystal looks at the teenagers rejecting the college pipeline and pursuing different life paths. A Newsweek article took a deep dive into generation covid and how their plans have changed since the pandemic began. The percent of Zoomers even considering college has dropped to 51%, a 20 point decline since May of 2020. A quarter of the class of 2022 has changed their post secondary school plans since the start of the pandemic. College enrollment is down ten percent and the decline is most pronounced among poor students. It makes sense, per Newsweek, the typical college graduate will walk into their first job with $26,100 in debt. Too often, the college degree falls short of expectations with a third of students earning less after obtaining it than the typical high school graduate ten years after graduation. Around 40% of college graduates are underemployed, working jobs that do not require a college degree.
The article does cite a study showing the income of college graduates over their less educated peers, and other research shows no return at all. A report from the St. Louis Fed released in 2020 examines wealth, a more meaningful metric than income, to show college is failing people. When debt is taken into consideration, the system is not working for students. According to the report, college delivers a slight bump in wealth for white families, a proxy for affluence in the data. If you are non-white, college provides no measurable value. Zoomers are not going to be reading complex economic analysis, but they are exploring their options in life and how things are going for people around them. They could observe college educated workers at Amazon and Starbucks doing jobs they did not need a degree to obtain. College classes on Zoom about abstract subjects could appear impractical compared to obtaining a job with a good wage.
The trend is not a straightforward positive because it highlights the costs of college reaching levels Zoomers believe are not worth it. Another problem mentioned in the article is the level of Zoomers neither in college nor working a traditional job. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of young people who were not in school or working increased by one million. Young men are opting out of both work and school in the largest numbers. In 2019 12.4% of young men were not in school or working, and that percent has increased to 16.7% today. These trends are happening alongside major mental health issues with young people. A third of high schoolers reported poor mental health during the pandemic and in the past decade, persistent feelings of hopelessness have spiked 20 percent. Plenty of Zoomers could be opting out from the system because of depression and sadness in a society with no guarantees of success. The basics of the American dream are not available to so many young people who are adrift and hopeless. Some have responded with courage and creativity in workplaces across the nation, bringing hope something might change.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar try to make sense of the complex trend of young Americans not attending college. On an individual level it can be a positive development but on a societal level it can have negative effects. Education differences between men and women skewing gender relations and dating markets can generate social problems. Overall, the covid era reassessment of priorities can be good if you find an alternative path instead of a dead end.
In his monologue today, Saagar takes viewers through the attack on the Nordstream pipelines that have ramifications for the entire European continent. Immediate speculation blamed Putin for taking another deliberate step to squeeze European economies in retaliation for sanctions. The Russians have dramatically reduced natural gas flows to Germany to hike energy prices across the continent and weaken European resolve. On the Nordstream pipeline leak, Swedish seismologists determined two separate explosions took place via an underwater demolition. Hours later, Danish military jets observed a disturbing, bubbling mass in the middle of the Baltic Sea spewing natural gas. Nordstream is now gravely damaged and its future operability has been jeopardized, putting a major choke point on gas flows to Europe.
The trillion dollar question now is who carried out the attack. European Union officials believe the attack was sabotage and hinted at a strong response if it was done by Russia. Ukrainians called it a terrorist attack by Russia and an explosion 12 miles off the coast of a NATO country would be a major escalation of the conflict. We do not know yet who did it and it’s important to be patient before formulating a response. A bizarre, now deleted reaction by Polish politician Radek Sikorski thanking the USA made matters even more complicated. Even more strange, his wife is the uber hawkish pundit and historian Anne Applebaum who has pushed for regime change in Russia. Nobody has admitted the US or the west had anything to do with the attack, but his reaction with no explanation is only fueling speculation. On the same day, a new baltic pipeline connecting Norway, Poland, and Denmark would be opening, weaning Europe off Russian gas. Right now, we have no idea what happened with the attack and it’s difficult to parse who really benefits from the explosion. A possible answer is that Russia did it to signal to Ukraine about hitting critical infrastructure. It could have been conducted to lock Russia into its war with Ukraine by destroying any alternative paths. Another explanation has been the US or Ukraine did it because of the problem of Europe relying on Russian gas. Maybe Poland or a baltic state did it to protect their own pipeline, cut Germany off, and ratchet up the conflict against Russia. We are in a critical time and it’s best we prevent a high profile incident from starting another war.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar consider the possibility of Russia carrying out the attack and who else might have done it. They call for a full investigation of it besides a few articles or one singular analysis.
Krystal and Saagar are joined by author and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution Richard Reeves to better understand the problems facing American men. His new book is about the unique economic and social changes causing boys and men to struggle in America today. There is a major gender gap in issues of inequality, education, and other major facets of society.  Structural challenges in education, workplaces, and the family are affecting men in ways arguably making life worse than it had been before. Ideological attitudes, existing institutions, and politicians have failed to identify the real problems and provide thoughtful solutions. Helping men and learning the truth about their struggles does not mean gender equality with women has to be rolled back. What’s needed is both sides to change the conversation about masculinity and develop real policy solutions instead of ignoring the problem or weaponizing it. Pushback could be the amount of men in powerful positions but it depends on where you are looking. In the apex of society there is more work to be done on elevating women to top positions. If you look down on the rest of society, American men are earning less than they did in 1979. A major gender gap exists in education and men are dying of ‘deaths of despair’ three times more than women. Such a big increase in economic inequality and insulation of elites prevents them from having the conversation about it. When breaking into the paradigm, people get labeled as right wing and the conversation is stifled. Data points in education show the gender gap has flipped; in 1972 Title IX was passed and men were 13% more likely to go to college. Now, women are 15% more likely to do so. High school GPA is another huge measure where women are dramatically outperforming men as inequalities in education are reversing. For working class men, the labor market has much less blue collar jobs older men were able to obtain. When men are benched from the labor market, they get shut out of the dating market and have difficulty with family formation.
Being unable to fulfill the role as provider enables ideologues to blame women for the problem and wax poetic for an earlier time. Today, 40% of women outperform men and 41% have a female breadwinner, which means the old model of masculinity is no longer with us. Bringing back the old model and turning back the clock is a lie. But the left is ignoring the problem and unwilling to consider policy action on it. Some solutions to begin fixing the problems facing men can be entering boys in school later than girls to accommodate for brain development. Recruiting male teachers to provide role models and investing in vocational training can assist with developing men. In education, the evening playing field shows how women and girls are structurally advantageous because of developmental differences in the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex. Nobody expected women to perform this well in education when the initial reforms were passed and now there needs to be changes to support men. Falling into the trap of calling masculinity toxic and can convince men something is wrong with them, turning them away from real conversations about gender relationships. Boys are hearing the messgae from feminists about patriarchy and do not see it in their daily lives, creating a drop in support for feminism. Today’s feminism is perceived as being about antipathy towards men instead of liberation or equality for women. Polling data demonstrates support for gender equality and giving opportunities to women to close existing gaps. We want equality of opportunity and to prevent boys from perceiving educational success as a feminine trait. A new story about mature masculinity needs to be told to men in the same way the script for women changed with the rise of feminism. Men need a positive vision of masculinity where providing for kids goes beyond money and fatherhood matters in the household. We have to send the message through policy and culture about the value of fathers in society as a whole.

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