Background Briefing: May 15, 2023


As the Standoff Over the Debt Ceiling Gets Closer to Default, Can Biden Call the House Republicans’ Bluff?

We begin with the continuing standoff over the debt ceiling with the threat of default looming on June first. Joining us to discuss what the possibilities are that would enable Biden to call the House Republicans’ bluff is Stephanie Kelton, a professor of economics and public policy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is the founder of the top-rated economic blog New Economic Perspectives, a member of the TopWonks network of the nation’s best thinkers, and, in 2016, Politico recognized her as one of the fifty people across the country most influencing the political debate. Previously she served as chief economist of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee and was an advisor to the Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. Her latest book is The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy and we discuss how to look at the debt and deficit not in terms of the trillions piled up, but rather what the money was spent on either as investments in the future or giveaways to the wealthiest Americans.


Running an Anti-American Campaign, Erdogan is Likely to be Reelected, Making Him Less Constrained and More Authoritarian

Then we get an assessment of Sunday’s elections in Turkey that will require a second round in two weeks with President Erdogan likely to win running on an anti-American platform to remain in power and be even less constrained and more anti-democratic in his next term. Joining us is Nicholas Danforth, Senior Non-Resident Fellow at The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy. Previously a Senior Visiting Fellow at the German Marshall Fund who has written widely about Turkey, U.S. foreign policy, and the Middle East, he is an editor at War on the Rocks and author of The Remaking of Republican Turkey: Memory and Modernity since the Fall of the Ottoman Empire.


Not Only Do We Have a Mad Candidate, Countries Can Fall Into the Grip of Madness as Germany Did in the 1930’s

Then finally we look into the likelihood that, as Trump begins his third run for the presidency, the mainstream media will repeat what they did in 2016 when they gave him up to $5 billion in free advertising because he demands attention rather than earns it. We discuss how we are afflicted by not just a mad candidate, but by the possibility that countries can fall into the grip of madness as Germany did in the 1930’s. Joining us is Fred Turner, the Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication at Stanford University. He is the author or co-author of five books including Seeing Silicon Valley: Life inside a Fraying America, The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties,  From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, and Echoes of Combat: The Vietnam War in American Memory. He has written for newspapers and magazines ranging from the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine to Harper’s.