Background Briefing: February 8, 2023
Biden’s Pro-Worker Anti-Corporate Profiteering SOTU Speech
We begin with last night’s State of the Union speech by Biden that was unapologetically pro-worker and unflinchingly anti-corporate profiteering as he called for a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America. Joining us is Robert Johnson, the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. He was Chief Economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. We discuss Biden’s criticism of Big Pharma for price-gouging on essential drugs and the need to reign in Big Tech with stricter anti-trust enforcement while going after banks, cable companies and airlines for junk fees. Along with the unfairness of “Americans being played for suckers”, Biden also went after our unfair tax system pointing out that “no billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a schoolteacher or a firefighter”.
Rising Tensions With China and a U.S. China Policy of Self-Harm
Then with tensions rising between the U.S. and China and the absence of a diplomatic dialogue following Secretary of State Blinken’s cancellation of talks with Chinese leaders over the balloon incident, we will speak with Ambassador Chas Freeman, a visiting scholar at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. He was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs from 1993-94, earning the highest public service awards of the Department of Defense for his role in reestablishing defense and military relations with China. The former Director for Chinese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, he was the principal American interpreter during President Nixon’s path-breaking visit to China in 1972 and we discuss his article at The American Academy of Diplomacy, “U.S. China Policy: A Case of Self-Harm.”
As Erdogan Shuts Down Criticism on Social Media, What Will He Do to Stay in Power?
Then finally, with Turkey’s authoritarian leader Erdogan shutting down social media sites to blunt criticism of his slow response to the catastrophic earthquakes, we speak with Henri Barkey, professor of international relations at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as a member of the U.S. State Department Policy Planning Staff working primarily on the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean, and intelligence and has authored, co-authored, and edited five books, among them Turkey’s Kurdish Question with Graham Fuller and Reluctant Neighbor: Turkey’s Role in the Middle East. We discuss his article at Foreign Affairs, “Turkey’s Turning Point: What Will Erdogan Do to Stay in Power?”