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Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone, welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger. This week President [Joe] Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law—a historic economic, health care, and climate package that will help tackle inflation. Center for American Progress President and CEO Patrick Gaspard is here with us today to talk about what the legislation does; and why it’s such a “BFD” [Big F—ing Deal], as President [Barack] Obama said; and what it means for Democrats heading into the midterms. But first, you know we have to get to some news.
As President Biden was signing historic legislation to lower costs for families this week, the former guy and his allies were busy being investigated for potential crimes. Talk about night and day. Last week, as we discussed, the FBI searched [former President Donald] Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property. Notice I said “searched.” This was not a raid. Agents were executing a legitimate search warrant signed off on by [Attorney General] Merrick Garland himself. So let’s nip that narrative in the bud before we go any further.
On Friday, we got to see the search warrant. And while there’s a lot that’s yet to be confirmed, here’s what we do know: There was probable cause that a crime was committed and strong reason to believe that material evidence was likely to be at that location. Ultimately, 11 sets of classified documents, including top-secret material, were removed from Mar-a-Lago. I’m just going to say it: If Donald Trump is found guilty of wrongdoing, there’s only one person to blame and that is Donald Trump himself. MAGA Republicans have been on Twitter since the FBI conducted the search, claiming it’s unfair and that he’s being targeted, when there’s obviously ample evidence to suggest that he has, or had, these documents. Mishandling our nuclear secrets is about as far from a partisan issue as you can get. And I don’t understand how MAGA extremists are turning this into a political battle. I understand why, but I don’t know how they’re doing it.
One more thing that’s bugging me about this Mar-a-Lago business: While Donald Trump didn’t impede the Department of Justice releasing the search warrant, the truth is, he could have released it himself days before. Instead, he chose to baselessly attack the [U.S. Department of Justice] (DOJ) and [Federal Bureau of Investigation] (FBI), putting lives at risk. For crying out loud, former Vice President Mike Pence had to put out a statement calling on fellow Republicans to stop harassing and threatening agents. When Mike Pence is telling you you’re being too radical, I don’t even know what to say.
In other Trump-world crime news—because there’s more—The Washington Post reported this week that Trump’s lawyers had computer experts copy sensitive information from voting machines in battleground states like Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada. That’s right, Sidney Powell and the gang— while expressing all this public outrage over supposed tampering with voting machines—were copying hard drives off those same voting machines. The information on these activities was collected as part of the case in Fulton County, Georgia, and it’s not yet clear whether any of those actions broke the law. We also learned that the MAGA party’s drunk uncle Rudy Giuliani is now a target of this probe. He testified for six hours in front of a grand jury this week on his attempts to subvert the 2020 election.
Finally—because there’s more, again—we’re seeing some pretty astounding movement from the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into Trump’s organization and finances. His longtime [Chief Financial Officer] Allen Weisselberg just pled guilty to 15 counts of fraud and—this is important—agreed to testify in the upcoming trial against the Trump Organization. Trump himself was questioned last week as part of that probe. During the questioning, he invoked the Fifth Amendment a whopping 440 times. That is not a good look, Donald. And it just brings me to the real lesson behind all of this chaos, which is: No one is above the law, not even a former president of the United States and his cronies. We need to hold these people accountable for anything illegal they have done. If there’s evidence—which it appears there is, in abundance—it needs to be investigated. So I’m looking forward to seeing how the DOJ and FBI investigation, the civil investigation in New York, and the Fulton County probe all shake out. I commend the folks working on these investigations and their commitment to justice, despite the partisan attacks coming from MAGA extremists.
Now, I really wish we could turn away from Trump and his influence in this next news segment, but he’s just a dark orange shadow hovering over everything right now. And he cast a particularly troubling shadow over the state of Wyoming this week. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who you may know from her leadership of the House Select Committee investigating the events of the January 6 insurrection, lost her primary to Harriet Hageman (R), a big Trumper. I want to say I’m surprised, but I’m not. This is what happens in the GOP when you step out of line and question their extremist attempts to undermine our democracy. This is just some of the most indisputable proof we can ask for that the Republican Party is now the MAGA party, the party of the “big lie.” Because make no mistake: Liz Cheney is as conservative as they come. The daughter of one [former Vice President] Dick Cheney, she has built her career on tearing down abortion rights and marriage equality, supporting military interventions and torture, and even voting against legislation to set federal baseline standards for voting rights and election security.
But as we are seeing across the country in primary after primary, conservative values are no longer enough to satisfy MAGA Republicans. Candidates up and down the ballot are winning, not for their ideas, but for peddling the snake oil of the “big lie” and pledging to undermine our elections and our democracy. Liz Cheney, as conservative as she is, has worked to hold former President Trump and his allies accountable for inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, and for undermining the results of a free and fair election. In short, she’s one of the few conservatives who still seems committed to democracy, the rule of law, and upholding the U.S. Constitution. And what does she get in return from MAGA Republicans? Abandoned, berated, and voted out.
Cheney’s loss of this primary should be a wakeup call for all Americans. Your grandfather’s Republican Party—heck, your father’s Republican Party—is gone. Today’s MAGA radicals don’t just want to take away your abortion rights and protect corporate billionaires at your expense. They also want to undermine the very fundamentals of our democratic system to make sure your voice is never heard again. They’re even pushing new laws that would allow for someone’s vote to be canceled if their party doesn’t like the outcome of the election. This primary once again makes clear that the upcoming midterms will be a choice between two futures: one where democracy is protected, and the other where elections are overturned so the power-hungry few can impose their radical MAGA agenda on us indefinitely. I just hope Americans recognize that choice for what it is when they go to the polls in November.
I also want to say, whether all this buzz about Liz Cheney potentially running for president as an independent now is true or not, that is not the solution. She still, during her time in Congress, voted with Trump policywise 93 percent of the time. It’s like we’ve said before: Even if you’re not with Trump at this point on election denial, merely being a member of the MAGA Republican Party now means you’re a radical. We don’t need our rights ripped away, even by someone who opposes Trump. We need real solutions, like the ones Democrats have brought to the table throughout this administration and this Congress. Just keep that in mind as you hear all this buzz about Cheney potentially running for higher office.
If there’s anything else you’d like us to cover on the pod, hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod, that’s @TheTentPod. Please let us know what you think of the show. You can rate and review us wherever you’re streaming from, and we really appreciate your feedback. Stick around for our interview with Patrick Gaspard in just a beat.
Gibbs Léger: Patrick Gaspard is the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Patrick was a key figure in President Barack Obama’s administration and held a number of prominent positions during Obama’s two terms in office, including service as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of South Africa in his second term. From fall 2011 to spring 2013, he also served as executive director of the Democratic National Committee. Most recently, he served as president of the Open Society Foundations, one of the largest private philanthropies in the world.
Patrick, thanks so much for coming back on “The Tent.”
Patrick Gaspard: Oh, my God, are you kidding? It’s an honor to be on “The Tent”—always. You haven’t really arrived in Washington, D.C., until you’ve been on “The Tent,” not once, but twice.
Gibbs Léger: So, I’m sure anyone listening has heard by now about the Inflation Reduction Act and that it’s a historic win for this administration, this Congress, and most importantly, for the American people. So, I’d love to start off by asking you to explain why. Broadly speaking, what is the significance of this bill?
Gaspard: Well, I think that President Obama explained it far better than I can when he tweeted out with the signage that this is a “BFD.” That kind of sums it all up. If you think about it for a second, Daniella, this easily makes Joe Biden the most successful legislative president that we’ve had in decades. It’s really quite an extraordinary set of achievements. This is the most consequential health care law in a decade, the most significant economic legislation in a generation, the most impactful climate change bill ever. As Steph Curry said after he won his fourth championship, “What they gonna say now?” If you just break down this bill, you recognize that, coupled with the stimulus bill—the [American Rescue Plan] (ARP)—coupled with what occurred in infrastructure, and now with the passage of [Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act] (CHIPS), these bills together really prepare us, not for just the challenges that are proximate and in front of us, but challenges over the next decades of the 21st century. On climate alone, we have $369 billion invested to reduce corporate emissions by 40 percent, $60 billion for clean energy manufacturing, creating millions of new jobs. And I want to sit on that one for a second, Daniella, because obviously, we’re having this conversation with the backdrop of the midterm elections. We have Republicans running in the Midwest and the industrial states that are trying to lift up a kind of Trumpian populism, making broad promises that their party has never really kept on the creation of manufacturing jobs. Not only do we have millions of manufacturing jobs that were saved by the Obama-Biden administration when they bailed out auto companies with absolutely no Republican support, now we have a doubling down on that bet in the energy sector in a way that’s going to allow for climate transition, through energy manufacturing, that’s going to be absolutely transformational in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, all up and down the supply chain.
This is a game changer on economics. But there’s also—I am the former White House political director, so I’m going to say that it’s a game changer on politics and our narrative, as well. On health care, Daniella, President Biden and Democrats in the House and Senate just accomplished something that congressional Democrats have been attempting to do for three decades, which is to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, again, with absolutely no Republican support. Thirteen million Americans will continue to save $800 a year on health care costs for the average user of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. We have 3 million more Americans who are going to have health insurance that would not have had it without this law. And we have $35 a month in savings for out-of-pocket cap for insulin for Medicare beneficiaries—pretty significant achievements on health care.
And then on taxes, while purported populists in the MAGA Republican Party are running around defending the ability of the richest 1 percent to continue to pay nothing in the way of taxes, Democrats just actually passed a bill that creates a 15 percent corporate minimum tax, a 1 percent fee on stock buybacks, and assures that there will be $160 billion that are culled from unpaid taxes for the richest 1 percent every single year—[a] huge, huge crawl back into our economy that will have a material benefit in public infrastructure across the country. People are going to feel all of these benefits. This will absolutely support and lift up the middle class. So, these are major investments in health and climate and a repositioning of the country on progressive taxation that is important for this generation and the next.
Gibbs Léger: Well, you basically just answered every single question I was going to ask you.
Gaspard: Oh, my God. You know, I live to serve, Daniella.
Gibbs Léger: Well, thank you, much appreciated. You know, I want to dig in a little bit more on the health care aspect. Obviously, you and I were both a part of the Obama administration when the Affordable Care Act passed, and as you mentioned, this is really building off of that achievement and accomplishing something that many administrations have tried to do. If you are in the Washington, D.C., area, you have been bombarded by negative ads paid for by pharma and probably some other folks on the right really trying to scare people about what this act does or might do, and how it might stem companies or stop companies from investing in lifesaving cures for things like Alzheimer’s and cancer. What’s your response to those ads that are still playing?
Gaspard: You know … it’s so funny, when you ask me about those ads, I suddenly find myself to be tongue tied, because somehow, I thought that we had scraped the bottom of the barrel on the kind of insidious, toxic lies that are spread by MAGA Republicans. While they are inactive and not present on the issues that matter most to average Americans, they try to spread this kind of toxicity about real action that’s being taken to protect a middle class that’s been hollowed out by their policies. So, of course, the passage of these bills will do none of the things that they cite. They hope that the American people will have amnesia about the kind of objections that they raised in the past to the ACA, to the expansion of subsidies. And we know, of course, now, that despite all that Republicans said about these bills, we now have millions of Americans who have access to quality, affordable health care that did not have access to it before.
And the passage of this bill sustains that effort, expands that access, and puts meaningful resources in state after state to stand up our health care infrastructure, and puts resources directly into the pockets of struggling seniors who are on fixed incomes, who are making really tough, brutal choices about prescription drugs versus the food that they have to have on their table. It makes a big difference for parents who have to be concerned about their children who are on insulin and other medications that are lifesaving, that they’re paying through the nose for. As I said before, the establishment of the ability to negotiate directly through Medicare on prescription drugs is something that is to be commended and something that we can build upon as we create more and greater quality access for Americans.
We’ve got to call out their lies. Eventually, in the next many weeks, Americans are going to call into question these lies. And in a moment when we see President Biden and Democrats in the House and Senate doing all they can to shore up working Americans, we have the opposite from MAGA Republicans who are instead expending their energy to ban books, and ban abortion, and lift up a set of lies about elections and our democracy, but also on the kind of meaningful change that’s occurring in our lives as a consequence of these bills being passed.
Gibbs Léger: So, the IRA, obviously, is a huge, huge accomplishment.
Gaspard: No, no, no, let’s be clear: It’s a “BFD.”
Gibbs Léger: Okay, sorry, it’s a BFD.
Gaspard: We’ve got to use the right terminology here on “The Tent.”
Gibbs Léger: That’s right. Got to come correct. It’s a BFD. However, there are some things that didn’t make it into the final bill, like the child tax credit and other things. What do you say to folks on the left who are excited about the IRA but are still disappointed that things that are still vitally needed didn’t get included? Like, what advice would you give them?
Gaspard: The struggle continues, right? This is the way of democracy. We know that change doesn’t come overnight. We have to build from strength to strength. We have to make sure that our advocacy is aligned with our activism, that we’re carrying a clear strategic sense of all that’s possible in the political moment, and what the North Stars are that we aspire to.
For your listeners, I would recommend to all of them an extraordinary essay that our sister Ai-jen Poo wrote for The New York Times two days ago. Ai-jen is, of course, the executive director of Caring Across Generations and the president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She wrote an op-ed that ran in the Times under the header, “How long will the U.S. continue to disrespect its caregivers?” And in that piece Ai-jen makes it clear that we are to celebrate the negotiation of lower prescription drug prices, the reduction of the costs of health care, slashing carbon emissions to roughly 50 percent by 2030, etc., but makes it really abundantly clear that the investments in Medicaid home- and community-based services for older adults and people with disabilities, paid family leave, assuring that we can finally have dignity in the workplace for care workers—all really critical piece[s] of our care infrastructure that get left on the cutting room floor—we have to celebrate our victories but make certain that we are building movements that are going to be resilient, not just from campaign to campaign, but between election cycles, so that we, in the places where we need to build leverage and pressure, can create the political will to get this next piece of the agenda done.
I am more than sympathetic to those who are disappointed that those aspects of the bill were left on the cutting room floor. You know, Daniella, that I came of age and cut my teeth as an organizer for the Service Employees International Union, working on behalf and with low-wage health care workers who were on the frontline and providing care to others, while not getting the wages and benefits that they were and are deserving of. One would think after all that we learned in the pandemic about essentiality and who really matters in this economy—after all we’ve seen in the lower workforce participation rates for women as a result of not getting the support they need to care for elders, to care for children—that we would be making more and not less investments in these spaces. Regrettably, it didn’t happen this time, but we have to take our resolve from what we were able to accomplish and know that more is available to us in our politics if we agitate, if we organize, if we continue to work with integrity—not on behalf of narrow agendas that are entirely partisan in nature—[and] if we keep and maintain our focus on the needs of working-class folk in this country.
Gibbs Léger: We always like to end our interviews on positivity if we can. I want to know, as we are in the last, final stretches of the summer—I cannot believe the kids go back to school soon—and we head into the fall.
Gaspard: You’re eager for kids to get back to school soon, aren’t you, Daniella? I can hear it in you.
Gibbs Léger: No, he’s in camp. I am #blessed.
Gaspard: Alright, alright.
Gibbs Léger: What gives you hope as we go into the midterms and onward to 2023, which I shudder to think is the beginning of the next presidential cycle. What are you hopeful about?
Gaspard: Well, there’s so much to take hope from right now, Daniella. The last time that I joined you on this podcast, it was at about the point of the one-year anniversary of the Biden presidency. And if we think back to the state of the country when President Biden assumed office to where we are now, you can’t help but be hopeful, because back then, we had 4,000 Americans dying each day from COVID-19. Businesses were shuttered. More than 10 million Americans were unemployed. And we were just catching our breath from an attempted insurrection willed on by the former president of the United States.
Since then, we’ve had almost 10 million jobs added to the economy. This month of August is about to give us our second month in a row of zero inflation growth in the country. The ARP has kept millions of families afloat, ensured that we would have a rapid recovery, unlike the slow and painful recovery from the Great Recession, and we have $1 trillion in infrastructure investments in the country—plus CHIPS, [the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act] (PACT), the IRA—and we have a president who has managed to hold NATO together in this moment as we are challenged by the struggle of democracy versus autocracy. So, long ways to go—a lot more work that needs to be done, as I just noted, on the care economy—but some extraordinary accomplishments delivered for the American people even in the teeth of fierce opposition from MAGA extremists who are not working to uplift average Americans.
We have a president who is very focused on all the right things, a Congress that’s accomplishing those things, and now we just have to go out and have a conversation with the American people into and beyond this election cycle. Things are looking up!
Gibbs Léger: Alright, well, I thank you for having a conversation with me and our listeners on “The Tent,” and I hope you have a great rest of your summer.
Gaspard: You too, and let’s all stay safe out there.
Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks so much for listening. Be sure to go back and check out our previous episodes. Before we get to our “Bachelorette” segment, I just want to make a comment about Serena Williams mentioning the fact that she’s retiring. The only thing I have to say is that she’s the GOAT [greatest of all time]—period, end of story. The greatest athlete of our time, and I will really miss seeing her on the court. I think you cannot overestimate her legacy in terms of sports, especially for women in sports, and what people think they can achieve from all walks of life. It’s just been remarkable to follow her career, and I really look forward to what she is doing next. So, Serena, I salute you and the U.S. Open is going to be so emotional.
Speaking of emotions, let’s talk about “The Bachelorette.” And as always, I got Sam Signorelli here to talk about it. Hello, Sam.
Sam Signorelli: Hey!
Gibbs Léger: Hi. Where to begin with this episode? Maybe let’s just start with the fact that it doesn’t feel like we should be going to hometowns.
Signorelli: Yeah, I totally agree. I feel like I just couldn’t believe that all of a sudden—maybe it was because they cut the candidates in half for each girl. So, I don’t know. It just felt like everything has moved way too quickly, and I’m not ready to meet these men’s families. I don’t know how they’re ready.
Gibbs Léger: Not at all. And I’m like—with the exception of maybe, Tino—I just feel like none of these guys are really at that point. And also some of them, I’m like, “Wait, who are you again?” It’s just been so strange. I think that they tried to do something different with these two bachelorettes at the same time, but I think they have done both of them a disservice and it feels like we’re getting half of a season, if that makes sense. It’s really bizarre. But we have to talk about Logan—where’s Logan?
Signorelli: None of that makes sense. None of it makes sense. I’ve seen a lot of conspiracy theories about it. For those of you that are not frequent watchers of “The Bachelorette,” basically, they went on a whole group date with Gabby’s men, one of them being Logan. And then, all of a sudden, right before the cocktail party that same night, it was revealed that Logan had COVID-19. So then they canceled the cocktail party that night, but then continued on with the show, despite [the fact that] you would think that the entire production staff, including all of the contestants, would have been exposed to him. And then he just never came back.
Gibbs Léger: Right, never. And then the fact that when Jesse told the guys, he said nothing about it being COVID-19.
Signorelli: Yeah, he said it was a “situation.”
Gibbs Léger: Right!
Signorelli: What does that mean?
Gibbs Léger: It’s so bizarre. We all know COVID-19 is a thing, obviously. And the expectation for anyone who’s watching is that, okay, so maybe they’re going to talk about the fact that they’re testing all the candidates before they do anything, every day or maybe twice a day. But the fact that they didn’t talk about any of that, the fact that he didn’t tell the guys that he had COVID-19, it’s shady. Methinks that there is something else but also, in earlier previews, you saw Jesse telling Logan, “Gabby is crying, she’s upset, and you have to pack your bags and go.” So, I don’t know what happened for real for real, but I hope that Reality Steve or somebody gets to the bottom of it. I have to be careful with Reality Steve because I don’t like spoilers. But he also has all the tea, so it’s like, I just want the tea without the spoilers at the end.
Signorelli: Speaking of tea, we have to talk about Nate.
Gibbs Léger: Yes, we do.
Signorelli: Literally, I’m almost glad that we went on back-to-back vacations so that I wasn’t caught on a recording singing Nate’s praises before all of this came out, because I was a Nate stan.
Gibbs Léger: Me, too.
Signorelli: But no longer.
Gibbs Léger: I was totally Team Nate. I was like, “Oh my goodness. She bought chocolate for his daughter”—and oh, my goodness. Well, she dodged one with that.
Signorelli: Truly, and it was a really, really emotional goodbye. If I hadn’t known that he was a dirtbag while watching it, I would have been so much more upset for her. But I hope she’s watching this back and after hearing everything, being like, “Well, damn. Thank God.”
Gibbs Léger: Right, exactly. I felt every sob as she was barely able to get the words out, she was crying so hard. So, there’s a part of me that—I’m with you. I hope that she can watch that now back and be like, “Alright, yes, I was upset but this was definitely for the best.”
As far as the rest of Gabby’s men, I think I didn’t like Erich in the beginning, and I still don’t like his stupid mullet, but I don’t know, there’s something about him. But the other guy—see, this is so bad, I didn’t even know what his name is—Johnny? Is that him?
Signorelli: The one who’s been to therapy?
Gibbs Léger: No.
Signorelli: Or, this is so embarrassing, but me and my roommate call him the “youth pastor” because he dresses like a youth pastor. I don’t know.
Gibbs Léger: He does. I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Signorelli: I don’t know what his name is.
Gibbs Léger: Maybe it’s Johnny—Johnny the youth pastor. He’s got really long eyelashes. I noticed that.
Signorelli: Yeah, Jason’s the one that’s been to therapy.
Gibbs Léger: Yes. I feel like Johnny matches her personality. I could see that being a thing. He’s kind of goofy, and I think she needs somebody who can let her be her goofy self, but I don’t know. And as far as Rachel is concerned, I’m Tino or bust.
Signorelli: Yeah, she seems like she’s got her—I don’t know, what’s his name? The other one who’s been to therapy on [her] side. They did two dates—Zach. She seems like she really likes him too. But I feel like she also seems like she has her sights set on Tino. Wasn’t he the one, at the very beginning, she was like, “Oh, that’s my type.”
Gibbs Léger: Yeah, she was definitely all about Tino. And Zach is boring. Don’t @ me.
Signorelli: Yeah, I agree. Maybe he’ll be more comfortable and fun around his family, but he does seem boring. I don’t know. For Gabby, though, I think I’m Team Jason. It just seems like he has an emotional maturity to him that I think she needs.
Gibbs Léger: I could see that. Yeah, I think her guys are all fine.
Signorelli: They all look remarkably similar.
Gibbs Léger: They really do, it’s like generic “Bachelor” type, but I’m excited. Here’s my question for hometowns, is if they try to pack seven hometowns in two hours, I’m going to be mad. I’m going to be so mad. They should just have one episode with Gabby’s, one episode with Rachel’s, because it’s not fair. You are cheating us.
Signorelli: We’re already getting shortened dates because you’re having to fit four dates into an episode instead of two.
Gibbs Léger: Exactly.
Signorelli: I hope it’s not literally a 45-second hometown per person.
Gibbs Léger: We need to see who the next Aunt Barb is going to be. It takes some time.
Signorelli: Oh, lord.
Gibbs Léger: I know. “Go get her!”
Signorelli: That was terrible.
Gibbs Léger: I know. Anyway, I look forward to next week’s episode. You know, as much as I complain about the show, I’m not going to miss one. So, there’s that.
Signorelli: For sure, you and me both.
Gibbs Léger: Exactly. Thank you for joining me, Sam.
Signorelli: Happy to be here, as always.
Gibbs Léger: And for everyone else out there, we’re still in a Pellegrino panini. So please wear your masks if you’re around a lot of people. I flew for work, and I was actually happy to see almost everybody on my plane was wearing masks and I’m like, “Yeah, good, you all got the memo.” Take care and we will 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. Erin Phillips is our lead producer. Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer. Tricia Woodcome is our booking producer, and Sam Signorelli is our digital producer. Rachel Lim provided research and production support for this episode. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.