Day: June 21, 2021

Background Briefing: June 21, 2021


Will We Get a Small Useless Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal or One That Meets Our Future Needs?

We begin with the bipartisan infrastructure package that Senators Sinema and Portman were expected to present today which the Biden administration might well take up although they have already objected to provisions in the bill to raise the federal gas tax which disproportionately hurts lower income Americans. Since the Republicans want physical infrastructure without raising taxes and Democrats want to both invest in human infrastructure and address climate change with clean energy solutions by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, the likelihood of a deal for the future as opposed to an unsatisfactory compromise, is looking dim. Edward McCaffery, the Robert C. Packard trustee chair in law and a professor of law, economics and political science at the University of Southern California and author of Fair Not Flat: How to Make the Tax System Better and Simpler joins us to discuss how much Biden might retreat from his original plan to hike the corporate tax rate to 28% to pay for his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. Meanwhile, as the Republicans stall and string along the Democrats, Biden is keeping alive his alternative to go it alone via budget reconciliation but that requires all 50 Democratic senators to be aboard. 


Low Voter Turnout for the Hardline Hanging Judge Now Iran’s President

Then we assess today’s appearance before the press of Ebrahim Raisi the hanging judge and hardline cleric chosen by Iran Supreme Leader who was elected in the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. Abbas Milani, Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University who until 1986 taught at Tehran University’s Faculty of Law and Political Science, joins us to discuss the Orwellian nature of Raisi’s claim to be a champion of human rights and how the clerical regime is living in its own world while average Iranians are suffering real-world deprivation in part thanks to U.S. sanctions.


Millions Flee Venezuela as it Becomes a Failed State

Then finally we go to Venezuela which used to be one of the richest countries in South America but is now becoming a failed state with over 5.6 million of its 30 million citizens having fled the country since 2015. With the woefully incompetent regime holding on to power via a military corrupted by the drug trade that is now going to war inside its own country against gangs who control whole neighborhoods, we get an update from Phil Gunson, the Andes Project Senior Analyst with the International Crisis Group who has spent over 40 years reporting on Latin America.