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Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies - The Beltway Briefing
33 minutes | Jan 16, 2022
After a year of promising to lower temperatures, seek unity and demonstrate competent leadership, President Biden has struggled. Unable to bridge the wide gap between moderates and progressives in his own party, he is ending the first year in office with arguably the worst week of his presidency: inflation hit a 40-year high; the Supreme Court blocked the centerpiece of his push to get more people vaccinated; he failed to win passage for both voting rights and his Build Back Better legislation, signature priorities of his first year; and talks with the Russians, aimed at avoiding war in Ukraine, broke off with no apparent progress. Many Democrats are calling for a reset, as they nervously look ahead to the November elections. With his poll numbers falling and his agenda stalled, how does president Biden prepare for Year 2 of his presidency? On the eve of the first anniversary of his swearing-in, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss the challenges Biden is facing and ponder whether he has a strategy for a course correction.
50 minutes | Jan 10, 2022
Have Americans Lost Confidence in Government?
Nearly two years into the coronavirus pandemic - with Omicron cases surging to record levels, hospitals overwhelmed, air travel disrupted, and widespread labor shortages - criticism and frustration are intensifying over the government’s Covid-19 response as the CDC’s muddy and often-changing guidance has only added to many Americans’ confusion. Meanwhile, recent surveys indicate that confidence in major U.S. institutions has edged down significantly, with over 80% of Americans saying they are worried about the prospects of American democracy and analysts connecting dysfunction in governance to deepening party polarization and Americans’ increased tolerance for political violence. On the anniversary of the January 6th violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Tristan Breaux break it all down and ponder what it would take to bring the country back together, restore our confidence in government, and relearn the power of citizenship and community.
46 minutes | Dec 22, 2021
Beltway Briefing Holiday Edition
Build back … in 2022? Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) stunned fellow Democrats on Sunday when said he wouldn’t support his party’s ambitious climate and social spending bill, called “Build Back Better,” effectively striking a death knell to the centerpiece of President Biden’s economic agenda and sparking a blame game among congressional Democrats and White House officials for not reaching a consensus with the moderate-minded senator. Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss the uncertainty and intra-party tensions Democratic leaders are now facing as they look for a path forward on a key piece of their legislative agenda. And, as it’s now a tradition, our podcast co-hosts sing and recite their own Christmas carols, as they wrap up this year’s Beltway Briefing series and reflect on key political battles of 2021.
25 minutes | Dec 12, 2021
How Will December End?
The Senate on Thursday voted to approve a one-time exemption to the filibuster on raising the debt ceiling, capping off a months-long fight over the nation’s borrowing limit. Earlier in the week, the House overwhelmingly passed a compromise version of the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, amid a push to get the measure to President Biden’s desk. As the holidays near and Democrats feel an increased sense of urgency to get their climate and social spending bill across the finish line, while Americans continue to worry about surging consumer prices, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss Congress’ jam-packed December to-do list and remember Bob Dole, the iconic Republican senator who served the country in war and in politics with pragmatism, self-deprecating wit, and a bygone era's sense of common civility and compromise.
31 minutes | Dec 5, 2021
How Will Government Respond to Omicron?
On Friday, President Biden signed legislation to fund the government at the previous year’s fiscal levels through February 18, giving lawmakers more time to hammer out their differences and narrowly averting a government shutdown. Earlier in the week, citing the new and fast-spreading Covid-19 Omicron variant, the Biden Administration imposed new travel restrictions, as scientists race to determine just how virulent, transmissible, and responsive to vaccines Omicron is. On the heels of the November jobs report, which gave a muddled picture of an improving economy, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Towner French, Kaitlyn Martin, and Tristan Breaux breakdown the stopgap funding bill and discuss the potential impact of the Omicron variant on U.S. businesses.
46 minutes | Nov 21, 2021
Where Do We Go From Here?
Ahead of the holidays, President Biden has some good news to be thankful for: the House finally passed the cornerstone plan of his agenda, the social spending and climate bill. On the other side of the Thanksgiving table, another huge challenge lies ahead for Democrats: convincing moderate Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Sinema (D-AZ) to sign onto the legislation. As Democrats fight over the scope of their policies and Republicans grapple with the influence of the former President, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, Kaitlyn Martin, and Tristan Breaux break it all down, while guest-host Jim Davis provides a view on the growing divisions in Washington from Pennsylvania.
33 minutes | Nov 14, 2021
Inflation Fears and Biden’s Reality Check
President Biden will celebrate a victory tomorrow, signing the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. But as the President heralds his accomplishments, he has also been running into a new economic reality, as inflation has surged 6.2%, the largest increase in 31 years. Not only the inflation fight could make it harder for Democrats to pass their social spending bill, but it also calls into question whether the Biden administration has a handle on this problem. The President acknowledged for the first time this week that inflation is “worrisome” – a response, perhaps, to the political reality, as new polls show Biden’s approval rating has ticked to a new low, largely due to a negative shift among Democrats and independents. As the holidays approach and Americans are seeing higher prices on everything from gas to groceries, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss President Biden’s performance and the state of the economy, which together send a stark warning to Democrats about their prospects in the 2022 midterm contests.
45 minutes | Nov 7, 2021
A New GOP Playbook?
The results in Tuesday’s elections all but confirmed the Democrats’ tenuous control of government and promoted further soul searching among Democrats about whether they misread the public’s desire for sweeping change. Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers are feeling bullish about their chances next year with the House and Senate both up for grabs. Is the pendulum swinging back towards the GOP? What do the results say about former President Trump’s influence on the electorate? As Democrats point fingers about their election losses, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Towner French, Jerry Kilgore, Julia Hammond, and Tristan Breaux discuss what lessons both parties should take from the results.
38 minutes | Oct 31, 2021
All Eyes on Virginia
As President Biden gathers with G20 leaders in Europe to tackle Covid-19 vaccines, supply chain woes, corporate tax issues, and the climate crisis, his domestic agenda continues to be in flux and candidates make their final pitch in Virginia’s race for governor. Public Strategies’ regular hosts Howard Schweitzer, Patrick Martin, and Kaitlyn Martin are joined by Jerry Kilgore, a former Virginia State Attorney General and Julia Hammond, former legislative director for Virginia Governor McDonnell, to discuss the state of Virginia race, a potential preview of next year’s crucial midterm elections.
34 minutes | Oct 25, 2021
Deal or No Deal?
Racing to negotiate, Democrats scale back their plans to upgrade the nation’s social safety net and combat climate change. Ending the month of October without anything close to a deal would land another blow on a president already suffering from falling approval ratings that have not been helped by the Democratic infighting over his agenda. As Americans’ worry about the supply-chain back up ahead of holidays, pain at the pump, and rising inflation, Public Strategies’ Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss the high stakes for congressional Democrats and the White House to reach a deal in the week ahead.
30 minutes | Oct 10, 2021
The Stalemate Continues
Legislative standoffs are nothing new at the Capitol, but the scope and scale of the current stalemate is as dramatic as it is head-scratching: the drama over raising the country’s debt ceiling is over for now only, as the government faces another potential shutdown in December; House Democrats are holding up President Biden’s infrastructure legislation; and the Democratic Party is still at loggerheads over how to structure its domestic policy bills. Meanwhile, with less than a month until Election Day, the Governors’ races are getting tighter in New Jersey and especially Virginia, where public opinion about Democrats is weighing on candidate McAuliffe’s standing in the polls. As Democrats in Washington struggle to get anything done, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, and Towner French discuss what all the major players do and don’t want out of the domestic spending bills and opine on the two gubernatorial races.
35 minutes | Oct 3, 2021
Is the Left the New Power Block in Democratic Politics?
After a week of frenzy and public infighting - with Progressives holding firm and refusing to support the infrastructure bill and moderates pushing back on the price tag of the reconciliation package, House Democrats again delayed their vote on the Senate’s infrastructure bill as they failed to agree on the separate $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. Desperate to find a compromise that can win favor in a narrowly divided Congress, White House officials have begun contemplating trade-offs that could result in reshaping or jettisoning key policies of President Biden’s agenda. As deadlocked Democrats go back to the negotiating table, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss whether there is enough trust left for Biden to make significant cuts to his cornerstone legislation to win support from moderate holdouts without losing votes from the powerful progressive block.
36 minutes | Sep 26, 2021
Biden’s Economic Agenda in Peril
With progressive Democrats holding firm on domestic spending bills, moderates trying to trim the cost, and Republicans largely out of the action, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are hurtling toward a political showdown over President Biden’s vast and ambitious economic agenda. Adding to the challenge, they have only a few days left to adopt a measure to fund the government, preventing a shutdown in the middle of a pandemic. Ahead of one of the most important legislative weeks of Biden’s presidency, Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, and Towner French discuss the fraught political landscape Congressional leaders are trying to navigate in the midst of a fast-ticking clock, where any misstep could have dire consequences for the national economy.
43 minutes | Sep 20, 2021
Show Me the Money
Congress is headed for a high-stakes showdown over the debt ceiling. The federal government could run out of funding authority next month if the two sides can’t crack a deal. Will the federal government enter yet another shutdown and create a debt crisis that would rattle global financial markets? Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss the political football around the debt limit and the status of president Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan, and ponder the road forward for the GOP following Thursday’s announcement from Rep. Gonzalez (R-OH), one of only 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment earlier this year, that he will not seek reelection.
44 minutes | Sep 12, 2021
9/11: 20 Years Later
A solemn nation on Saturday marked two decades since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a milestone that came less than a month after President Biden formally ended the war in Afghanistan launched in response to the attacks. Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin talk about their memories of that calamitous day in American history and how the country has changed in the 20 years since, and discuss how August turned into a month of crises for Biden’s presidency – with the Taliban toppling Kabul and the Afghan government, the killing of 13 U.S. service members in Afghanistan, rising Covid-19 cases and deaths, persistent inflation concerns, declining poll numbers, and an uncertain path forward for his sweeping infrastructure agenda.
43 minutes | Aug 15, 2021
Beltway Briefing Special Episode – New York: A New Era in Albany
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday, a week after State AG Tish James issued a scathing report detailing accusations of sexual harassment and one day after state lawmakers convened for impeachment proceedings. Underscoring both the tarnished brand of her soon-to-be predecessor and the public’s desire for a reset, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is signaling the start of a new era in Albany politics as she prepares to become the Empire State’s first female governor and the first governor since Grover Cleveland to represent Western New York. Public Strategies’ NY team, including Ken Fisher, Stuart Shorenstein, Katie Schwab, Rose Christ, and Jamie Ansorge, discuss Ms. Hochul’s experience and leadership style, how it stands in sharp contrast to Cuomo’s, and what the transition may mean for the future of New York City and State.
31 minutes | Aug 8, 2021
Ready, Set, Recess
A partisan stalemate is poised to drag out Senate efforts to advance the infrastructure bill for days, with GOP Sen. Hagerty (TN) vowing he will block attempts to speed up passage of the legislation. But the Senate still remains on track to conclude its work on proposed revisions, potentially by early next week, putting Democrats one step closer to delivering on President Biden’s economic policy priorities. Ahead of the August recess, Public Strategies’ Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin break down the current status of the bipartisan measure and discuss other key political events of the week, including the questions about the fate of NY Governor Cuomo raised by the damning report released by New York AG.
30 minutes | Aug 2, 2021
Finally, Bipartisanship in the Senate
On Wednesday, just days before the House left for its August recess, Senate Democrats and Republicans banded together to advance an infrastructure proposal - including $550 billion in new spending, to improve the country’s aging infrastructure, overcoming months of political deadlock on one of President Biden’s signature economic policy priorities. Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin break down the related developments, and discuss other key issues in Washington last week.
41 minutes | Jul 18, 2021
Special Edition : New York, New York
What happens in New York, the country’s largest and most diverse city, has national ramifications. What is the projected mayoral race winner Eric Adams’ relationship with NY Governor Cuomo, whose investigation by state attorney general’s office has upended his national reputation as he gears up to run for a fourth term next year? What about Adams’ rapport with President Biden, whose ambitious legislative agenda depends on his ability to hold onto Democrats’ slim majorities in the House and the Senate? How does Hakeem Jeffries, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus and has AOC in his backyard, and his fellow Brooklynite Chuck Schumer, help Biden pursue his plans? · In a special edition of Beltway Briefing, moderated by Ken Fisher, New York Public Strategies’ Katie Schwab, Stuart Shorenstein, Jamie Ansorge, and Rose Christ discuss what the NYC mayoral race means and provide other updates on New York’s political direction.
44 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
The Supreme Court on Thursday, by a 7-2 vote, left “Obamacare” intact and showed that the conservative majority doesn’t fall along partisan lines as much as the left thinks it does. In other big news this week, antitrust scholar and Big Tech critic Lina Khan – a prominent figure in the “New Brandeis Movement” - which espouses a 21st century version of the populist competition policies once championed by Justice Brandeis, was sworn in as FTC chairwoman, after President Biden elevated her to the agency’s top post. Is Biden, in his early policy moves, developing an answer to Trumpist populism? Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin debate this week’s events inside the Beltway and ponder whether Biden is developing a new policy synthesis that is as an antidote to conservative populism.
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