Background Briefing: May 24, 2023


The Continuing Standoff Over the Debt Ceiling as the Congressional Clock Runs Out

We begin with the continuing standoff over the debt ceiling as the clock runs out for the Congress to make a deal that goes to the Senate then the White House before the June first deadline of default. Joining us to discuss the contours of a deal shaping up that is, as Speaker McCarthy has promised, neither a clean debt limit bill or a suicide pact pushing the U.S. over the brink is E.J. Dionne, a columnist for The Washington Post, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a visiting professor at Harvard University, and a professor at Georgetown University. He is the author of Why the Right Went Wrong and co-author of the New York Times bestseller One Nation After Trump and Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country. His latest book, co-authored with Miles Rapoport, is 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting and we discuss his latest article at The Washington Post, “The poor are being held hostage in the debt ceiling standoff.”


As a Red State Turns Blue, New Bills in Texas Target Democratic Voters in Houston

Then we examine the bills just passed by the Texas Legislature that target Democratic strongholds in the red state of Texas that is trending blue which is why voting restrictions are being imposed on the biggest blue county encompassing Houston with similar voting suppression laws heading for Austin and Dallas. Joining us is Ari Berman, a senior reporter at Mother Jones, covering voting rights, and a Reporting Fellow at The Nation Institute. He is the author of Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics and his latest book is Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. We discuss his article at Mother Jones, “Republicans Are Trying to Seize Control Over Voting In Texas’ Largest Democratic County.”


The Shadowy Fixer For the Reverse Altruism of Right Wing Billionaires Who Have Captured Our Courts and Want the Rest

Then finally, with the billionaire donor who has been lavishing Justice Thomas with gifts now refusing to cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s inquiry, we explore the role of the shadowy fixer for the reverse altruism of right wing billionaires who want to subjugate women, fight against “wokeness”, end regulations on climate change and limit voting rights. Joining us is Nina Burleigh, a journalist, best-selling author, documentary producer, and publisher of the Substack American Freakshow. A  professor at New York University’s Arthur J. Carter Journalism Institute, her journalism has been published widely including in the New York Times, New Yorker, Airmail, and New York Magazine. She’s written seven books, the latest of which include The Trump Women: Part of the Deal and Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America’s Response to the Pandemic, and she is currently working on a memoir about growing up Iraqi American. We discuss her article at The New Republic, “Who Is Leonard Leo’s Mysterious Dark Money King?