Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone. Welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger.
Colin Seeberger: And I’m Colin Seeberger. Daniella, is that waves I hear? Are you at the beach.
Gibbs Léger: No, those are not waves that you’re hearing, but I am in Martha’s Vineyard. This week, CAP held a series of events focusing on expanding opportunity within the Black community, and it’s been really awesome and inspiring. And the weather has not been fantastic, which is OK, because this isn’t a vacation. I’m here for work. But while I was here, I did take the time to sit down on location with Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). We talked about what the OMB does; how MAGA Republicans are using dangerous brinkmanship to try and cut programs Americans rely on; and how Bidenomics is helping real people and communities.
Seeberger: I’m sure that’s going to be a great conversation, Daniella. I know Shalanda Young has been in the mix of all the major legislative negotiations in this administration. So, I’m sure she’s got a lot of really interesting things to say, and I can’t wait to hear it. But first, we have got to get to some news. Some stuff happened this week.
Gibbs Léger: Some stuff did, Colin. Another day, another indictment.
Seeberger: It sure feels like that, doesn’t it? I mean, of course we’re talking about Fulton County, Georgia, where District Attorney Fani Willis, and the grand jury she’s presented evidence to, indicted former President Donald Trump earlier this week. They found enough evidence to charge Trump and 18 of his top allies for multiple serious crimes, including racketeering, as part of his alleged scheme to illegally overturn the valid results of the 2020 election in Georgia, which, I should remind our listeners, he lost. You might recognize some of the co-conspirators who were named alongside Trump in the indictment. We’re talking about former chief of staff Mark Meadows, his attorneys Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, along with 15 others.
And look, I feel like a broken record here, because we’ve said this each and every time Donald Trump has been indicted, but in America, no one is above the law. And that really bears repeating. Any person involved in a scheme to destabilize our democracy and our process of elections for political purposes should be held legally responsible for their actions, including the former president, if he’s found guilty of these alleged crimes, of course. It’s also worth saying that I saw a new poll that was out middle of this week that showed that a majority of Americans believe that Trump did break the law in trying to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. I mean, we all heard the phone call that Donald Trump placed to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), where Trump asked him to find 11,780 more votes, just what he needed in order to win the state. These are serious allegations that threaten just the fundamental democracy, our free and fair elections, and the very voice of every voter in the United States.
Gibbs Léger: Exactly. These are really some of the most serious charges that a prosecutor could bring. And that’s not even to mention that this is the fourth indictment Trump is facing—five if you count the superseding indictment. Now, another point that we’ve made on the show that’s worth making again is that we need the legal process to play out in each of these cases without interference or threats of violence. It’s kind of bonkers to me that I even have to say that. This is especially true in Fulton County, where officials began blocking off roads near the courthouse over a week in advance of this news.
And we also need Congress and, where possible, states to disqualify Trump from holding office under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This should be in parallel to both this case and the one being pursued by special counsel Jack Smith in Washington, D.C., where Trump was federally indicted on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And in case you’re wondering just how urgent this is, let’s not forget that while MAGA Republicans publicly call into question the integrity of our elections, this indictment alleges that Trump’s own allies illegally breached an electronic voting system in Coffee County, Georgia, in an effort to advance his corrupt plot to overturn the 2020 election. They did this at the same time that we know Trump and his allies put election workers in danger, including facing death threats simply for doing their jobs. There must be accountability, not only for Trump but for the relevant attorneys and advisers, members of Congress, and any other groups of people who knowingly helped in this allegedly illegal plot. The bottom line is, as you said, Colin, no one is above the law, not Sidney Powell, or John Eastman, not even Donald Trump.
Seeberger: I will definitely be keeping a close eye on this case as it unfolds, along with all the other cases that we are keeping a close eye on as well.
Gibbs Léger: Absolutely. But another part of the country I’m keeping an eye on is, unfortunately, the island of Maui in Hawaii, where devastating wildfires have been raging for more than a week. These have been the deadliest fires on the island in more than 100 years. Officials have so far identified 106 deaths as a result of them, as well as damage to over 2,000 homes and buildings. The White House just yesterday announced that the president and the first lady are visiting Maui early next week, as soon as they could without disrupting disaster relief efforts on the ground. President [Joe] Biden has worked closely with Gov. Josh Green (D-HI) to give the state everything it has asked for in terms of emergency response, including approving the governor’s request for 100 percent reimbursement for the work that is being done. FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] has dispatched hundreds of people to the state as it responds to this disaster.
But we need to talk about a major factor in this tragedy. And that’s climate change. Make no mistake, what’s happening in Maui is a climate disaster. It was fueled by warmer-than-normal temperatures during the driest months of the year and stronger-than-normal trade winds from a typhoon south of the islands. Climate scientists call the weather conditions that lead to these fires a flash drought, and it’s [an] extreme weather pattern that’s expected to happen much more frequently as our climate continues to warm over the coming decades.
Seeberger: Yeah, I mean, it’s really become clear that now is the time that we’ve got to talk about climate change. And it’s just amazing to me to hear people continue to deny the science among MAGA Republicans all over the country. And it’s also clear that Band-Aid solutions aren’t going to cut it. All summer long, we’ve been breaking global heat records. And not only does extreme heat contribute to tragedies like the one that you mentioned is happening in Maui, it also costs us our health and money all over the country. The Center for American Progress found in a recent report [that] the U.S. is going to have to pay a billion dollars in health care costs every summer as a result of extreme heat. Nobody is immune to the impacts of climate change, which is why it needs to be at the top of our priority list.
MAGA Republicans in Congress, they are just fighting desperately to repeal the investments President Biden passed in the Inflation Reduction Act. But these are some of the best tools we have to fight climate change. They’re helping us make the transition to a clean energy future through electric vehicles, energy-efficient homes, scaling up renewable energies like solar and wind. And we need to protect those investments. And we need to also build on them. We need leaders who believe in the science and who respect the gravity of what’s happening in communities like Maui, and all over the world, to some of our most vulnerable populations. This, if nothing else, should be a massive wake-up call to our leaders.
Gibbs Léger: I totally agree with you, Colin. And we can only just hope that folks actually listen to the call. That is all the time that we have for today’s news.
Seeberger: If there’s anything else you’d like us to cover on the pod, hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod, that’s @TheTentPod.
Gibbs Léger: And stick around for my interview with Director Shalanda Young in just a beat.
Gibbs Léger: Shalanda Young is the director of the Office of Management and Budget and the first Black woman to hold this Cabinet position. She previously spent 25 years working for the House Appropriations Committee, including serving as staff director. Director Shalanda Young, thank you so much for joining us on “The Tent.”
Director Shalanda Young: Thank you so much for having me.
Gibbs Léger: So, to start, can you tell our listeners a little more about your background and your work at the Office of Management and Budget? President Biden has called you “the woman who controls all the money.” That’s a big job. So, what does OMB do? And how critical is it to the work of the federal government?
Director Young: So, people say, before I got there, OMB is the nerve center, and I go, “OK.” Turns out, it’s pretty much true. So, [OMB is] mostly known for putting the president’s budget together, working with Congress to try to get as many of the president’s priorities funded. And I’m kind of suited for that because I worked for about 15 years on the congressional side of that process. I was the staff director of the House Appropriations Committee. I like to joke that I just changed seats, and I do the same stuff and talk to some of the same people. Now I just have to beg my old colleagues for resources.
But also, we deal with the management of the government. Whenever people talk about return-to-the-office policies or cybersecurity, all those things flow through the management side of OMB. And finally, not in the title but important: regulatory. The regulatory agenda comes through our office, and we look at anything that’s significant from that standpoint. So, there’s a lot there. And I mentioned, I spent the largest portion of my career at the House Appropriations Committee. I kind of loved it. I grew up there. And now, I get to see it from the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, which is kind of a full-circle moment. And I started my career as a civil servant. So, back working with civil servants, leading the president’s budget—it’s been fun.
Gibbs Léger: That’s great. It’s truly full circle. And you drew on that background as you negotiated to help us avoid a default crisis earlier this year. The president has recently announced the creation of a new working group to try to avoid future brinkmanship, like we saw from Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy (R-CA) and his caucus this spring. We’ll get to the threats that they’re now making that could shut down the government this fall for a moment, but can you tell our listeners why it’s so important to never again threaten default, like MAGA Republicans did a few months ago?
Young: I mean, it’s just so irresponsible. You think about the people a default hurts most. It’s those who are living paycheck to paycheck. It does everything from, if we would have defaulted, which would have been the first time ever, we would [have] undoubtedly gone into a recession. Interest rates would have been higher. So, the cost of living for everyday Americans, those at the bottom of the rung, would have been hit the hardest. So, it’s just irresponsible. This brinksmanship around debt ceiling is a newer phenomenon. When I got to D.C., people just didn’t do that. It really started in the Obama administration, with Republicans in a divided government using that as a cudgel to stop the president’s agenda. We’re seeing it again. And it just would be detrimental not only to the U.S. economy but to economies worldwide, which is why people just didn’t do that. This should be a regular course of doing business in the government. Businesses of the government shouldn’t be worried about whether or not we fulfill our duties to pay our bills.
Gibbs Léger: And now we’re about to face down another potential crisis at the hands of MAGA Republicans. This time, radical right-wing members are looking to possibly force a shutdown to implement even crueler cuts than what they tried to jam through over the summer with the debt limit crisis. So, can you describe what they’re proposing now and how these cuts would harm everyday Americans?
Director Young: People have been through this, unfortunately, before, from the mid-90s up and shutdowns before. What that means is the government’s fiscal year starts October 1. And if the government is unable, Congress is unable, to pass bills to keep that funding going or to have new funding proposals that the president signs, then we will shut down and a lot of government programs will cease until Congress comes to its senses and reopens the government. We went through this during the Trump administration. I worked on the Appropriations Committee when that president wanted money for a border wall. And we fought over that. This time, you see a lot of Republicans wanting to basically go back on the deal the speaker and the president came to just two months ago, is it? I’m still recovering from that, by the way. So, in order to lift the debt ceiling, Republicans insisted on a deal on funding the government. And we came to the table, knowing how bad default would be, entered into good-faith negotiations, and came up with what would have been effectively a freeze for most government programs. Defense would have gone up.
Well, you would think that would mean an orderly process. Right? We signed—the president signed—a bill into law that validated that deal. And so, it should be easy. We have the top lines to fund the government at Republicans’ insistence. And guess what? Some people don’t like the deal. They think the deal spends too much money. And they want to renege on that deal. And I just have to have faith in the governing majority of both Democrats and Republicans that we’re going to find a way around people who want to do harm to people who rely on these programs, including our men and women in uniform. The Department of Defense would be heavily impacted if we did … shut down, and we have to do everything we can to avoid that.
Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I feel like there’s a misperception out there that a government shutdown really isn’t that bad. It doesn’t really harm that many people. But talk to us about what it looks like. You mentioned men and women in uniform, for example. Who else is going to be harmed, potentially, by this?
Director Young: Well, I’ll tell you something: Men and women in uniform and the rest are civil servants, including those on the civilian side putting their lives in danger every day—FBI agents. Look, you can say they’ll get paid their salary back some other time. Well, you try telling your mortgage company or your apartment rental company, “Don’t worry. When Congress gets its act together, I’ll pay you back.” That is just not right for those who serve in uniform and those who work in government, doing good, good work for the American people. So, it is not without consequences for people who are working still and who aren’t getting paid. Also, our food inspection, air traffic control, I hope you weren’t planning on visiting a federal park. All these things are government services. We’ll do our best, if we come to that—and again, I’m still an optimist—to do everything we can to manage through, but the longer these things go on—and I’ve lived through a few—the more services have to stop.
Gibbs Léger: Yeah, well, I want to pivot to something a little more positive to close out the interview. We recently marked the one-year anniversary of both the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act, cornerstones of President Biden’s economic agenda. So, talk to us about how these policies are helping to grow the economy from the middle out and tackle inequality.
Director Young: Middle out, bottom up: That is Bidenomics. And this president means it. He grew up like regular Americans. I’m from a small town where I’m surrounded by people I’m so grateful for who know regular people and who know and who have family members that are regular people. So, we know what people go through, know people just need a little breathing room, as Joe Biden would say. We are strongest when we have a strong middle class. And the two bills you cited—and I’d add the infrastructure law—are all meant to rebuild the middle class in this country, not just ensure that corporations and the wealthiest in this country get all their tax breaks and hope to pass them down to workers. We need to do what we can to give people a leg up and also make sure they can enter the middle class. And those are what those bills are intended to do: Make more things in America, bring manufacturing back to this country—we’re starting to see it work—make sure that China isn’t the leader in clean energy. It’s not only good for the environment; it’s good for workers. Why can’t we build it? And that’s what all of these pieces are about.
It’s going to take some time to see the story unfold. That’s the tough thing, because you’re doing all these policy changes in four-year increments and political cycles. It’s going to take a while. But that is core when you hear us talk about Biden economics. What can we do to make sure that regular people can see their generation do better than their parents; can make sure that people who, a four-year degree isn’t for them, can still make six figures; that we get equity into apprenticeships; and that Black and brown men and women find themselves into unions and have good-paying jobs? That’s what it means. It’s not government giveaways. People don’t want that. They want the government to help them when they need it and create room for them to have access to the things some people have always had access to. They just didn’t, or they didn’t believe their government allowed them to. We’re here to say you can trust in your government, and we’re here to help.
Gibbs Léger: It’s been really great to see, you’re starting to see, some of these stories come out in states across the country where people who are in these communities that have been traditionally left behind are starting to access some of these programs. So, it’s really wonderful. And I want to thank you for all of the hard work that you do.
Director Young: Thank you so much. If I can, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one place the president focused on and really touched me when I read about it that just signifies what we’re trying to do here: Lowndes County, Alabama, historically left behind. We have these sewer and drinking water grants we’ve had for many years. They’re managed by the states. So, the federal government gives this money and has very little oversight afterward. This community, mostly of Black folks, Black poor people, working people—sewer, you know where it goes? Into their backyards. Into their backyards in this country. And the president read about this, and he was like, “We’re going to do something about it.” But what doing something about it means is using his bully pulpit to say, “Hey state, do the right thing.” You’re getting his money from the infrastructure law; we will not approve these state plans unless you get to these communities that have historically been left behind. So, we see you. And one of the complaints in a lot of places is we block grant a lot in the states. We don’t have a lot of control, but we’re doing what we can to get money to communities who need it and who have been left behind generation after generation. We see you.
Gibbs Léger: That is that is really heartwarming. And that’s what intentionality behind policymaking is all about.
Director Young: Thank you. Thank you for letting me share.
Gibbs Léger: And thank you again for joining us on “The Tent.”
Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. Be sure to go back and check out previous episodes. Before we go, you know we’ve got to talk about “The Bachelorette.” Colin, it was the “Men Tell All.” What did you think?
Seeberger: I think that Charity has absolutely found the cream of the crop, let’s say, with her final three. So, I am very pleased with her three finalists. I am also … I also got to say, I don’t miss seeing Brayden on my TV every week.
Gibbs Léger: Not at all.
Seeberger: Going back and kind of reliving his departure, I just have to say, he’s completely full of it. Like he said, “Oh, I left because I don’t think I can find love through this process. It’s not for me.” And yet, at the “Men Tell All,” they also reveal that Brayden is going on “Bachelor in Paradise” to go find love. So, this process that was totally not for him is suddenly going to be his new matchmaking vehicle on the beaches of Mexico?
Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I was like, “OK, Brayden,” like, “Sure, Jan. I don’t believe you.”
Seeberger: Not at all.
Gibbs Léger: I also have to say, I thought—it’s usually a yelling fest between the former contestants and people trying to one-up each other for camera time—I just found all these guys to be really immature. And to your earlier point, she really did pick the best folks out there because those guys were, as my mom would say, but I’ll clean it up, showing their behinds a little bit on TV.
Seeberger: Your mom absolutely knew what she was talking about. I think that is fair. I also think that they all look really immature when they’re sitting next to her because she is just so classy, so poised, beautiful, composed, well-spoken, everything. She’s fantastic and, I think, has done so much for the franchise. And I just hope that she ends up with a suitor who is worthy of her.
Gibbs Léger: I agree. And it’s probably going to be Dotun, if I had to guess. If I had to guess right now, that’s where I’m thinking it’s going.
Seeberger: We all—we all have to think it’s Dotun, right?
Gibbs Léger: Yes, of course. Their chemistry is just—it’s just beyond.
Gibbs Léger: We need to talk about “The Golden Bachelor.”
Seeberger: We do. I got to say, I was really skeptical about it. Obviously, I‘m very supportive of the franchise reaching other communities beyond just like the young 20-somethings and early 30-somethings and reflecting the fact that there are millions of people who are seniors who are looking for love. And so, I think it was great to have a more diverse person represented as the bachelor. I also have to say, it sounds like his wife passed away a few years ago after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. And it sounds like they spent more than three decades together. I think the guy really has a good understanding for what he’s looking for and what makes a good, healthy relationship. So, I am super excited. And I hope that by navigating this journey with him, hopefully, it raises the bar and the expectations for future contestants of the show as well as viewers, so that they’re demanding more for the people who are putting themselves on the line to serve in these kinds of roles.
Gibbs Léger: I totally agree. I’m a jaded person just by nature. And I’m like, oh, it’s like a gimmick. I mean, it’s cute and all. But his story was so moving. And I think they might have been married maybe for 40 years, even, and just to hear him talk about the love that they had, and his kids to talk about the love they had and the fact that they are hoping that he finds another love like that and are so supportive. And I guess I should give the guys, Charity’s men, a little bit of credit, because they were all like, we can learn from you. When he was like, “I’m looking to you guys to see what to do,” they’re like, “No, no, no, we need to learn from you. Because you’ve had what we’re looking for, which is that deep, deep love.” So, that was touching. It got me a little bit in my feels. I am excited for it. He needs to stop with the old jokes. We get it. You’re 70 or something. You don’t know what TikTok is. OK, let’s move it along, please.
Seeberger: When he’s trending on social media. Yeah, that was—I don’t think we need to lean into that too hard. I hope he can just be himself. But I do think it’ll be a great series to follow along.
Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I agree. I am looking forward to it. Well, that will do it for us this week. As always, please take care of yourself. A lot of my friends have been coming down with COVID recently. So, I would like folks to continue to take care of yourself because it’s still out there.
All right, we’ll talk to you next week. “The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me, Daniella Gibbs Léger, and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Erin Phillips is our lead producer. Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer, and Sam Signorelli is our digital producer. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.