As Democrats in Washington made headlines slamming President Trump on the healthcare issue, California’s Democratic lawmakers last week used their supermajority to block universal health care legislation. The Democrats halted the senate-passed bill after their party raked in big campaign contributions from drug companies and insurers. The move was the culmination of a successful lobbying campaign to portray the proposal as unrealistic and unaffordable.
But would a state-based Medicare-for-all system really be the unaffordable budget-buster that opponents have long claimed? On this episode, I talk to University of Massachusetts economist Robert Pollin. He is a former economic adviser to California Gov. Jerry Brown, who campaigned for president in support of single-payer but who did not support the single-payer legislation in his own state. Pollin was commissioned by single-payer advocates to study the California bill. After publishing a report about his findings, Pollin argues that opponents of the bill have misrepresented the most basic facts about health care economics.
Last summer, Gawker was forced to shut down amid a controversy involving Hulk Hogan. But the controversy wasn’t just about a Hogan sex tape — it was also about how a Silicon Valley billionaire who is close to Donald Trump helped finance Hogan’s case, and consequently shut down an entire newsroom he didn’t like. On this episode, I talk to the director of the new film “Nobody Speak,” which shows how just as Trump has waged a high-profile war on the media, politically connected billionaires are using their power to try to crush journalistic scrutiny of the wealthy and powerful in America.
Rep. Ro Khanna represents Silicon Valley in Congress and he has raised campaign cash from Internet moguls — but that doesn’t mean he thinks antitrust regulators should go easy on the tech industry. Instead, the freshman Democratic congressman this week became the first federal lawmaker to raise red flags about Amazon’s proposed merger with Whole Foods. On this episode, I talk to Khanna about the deal that he says requires tough scrutiny from regulators amid fears that it could imperil both consumers and workers. Khanna also sounded an alarm about potential links between Trump administration regulators and the companies that could be involved in the merger.
Politics may often seem like comedy, but there aren’t too many comedians who have made the jump into national politics. One of the few is Al Franken — the former Saturday Night Live Star who is now a second-term Democratic senator from Minnesota. On this episode, I talk to Franken about what keeps him up at night worrying about Donald Trump, and whether or not Franken and his fellow Democrats will do everything in their power to stop the repeal of Obamacare. We also discussed the prospect of impeachment — and Franken says he believes a President Mike Pence would be worse than Trump on domestic policy.
This week, security experts warned that a new computer virus could cause mass power outages — a scenario that could prompt life-and-death emergencies across the globe. The assessment comes after a recent attack on a power plant in Kiev — and only a few a few years after the 2010 Stuxtnet attack, which aimed to destroy centrifuges inside Iran’s nuclear facilities. On this episode, I talk to Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney about his new film “Zero Days,” which reviews the Stuxtnet attack. He says that the United States is keeping its involvement in cyberweapons a secret — and that such weapons could easily be turned around to attack America in ways that could cause mass casualties. Gibney also asserts that in keeping its cyberwarfare programs secret, the U.S. government is preventing Americans from openly debating whether there should be restrictions on these weapons — and whether they present a grave threat to the nation.
During a speech to thousands of activists in Chicago this weekend, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called the Democratic Party’s political strategy “an absolute failure,” and he pushed party leaders to begin promoting a more forceful populist economic agenda. I caught up with Bernie after his speech to discuss his renewed push for single-payer health care, his fight against Donald Trump’s administration — and his battle with some Democrats who say the party should not necessarily embrace a progressive agenda. We discussed whether it is time for a third party in America, and we chatted about what he had learned during his 2016 campaign about communities of color. We also discussed whether or not he thinks the Trump-Russia controversy is unduly distracting attention away from issues like economic inequality, healthcare and climate change.
When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, it seemed like his victory would kick off a new era of Democratic Party success. Then the party went on to lose the White House, Congress, most governorships and hundreds of state legislative seats. What went wrong? Thomas Frank says that it is all about economic class. He is the author of “What’s the Matter With Kansas” and “Listen Liberal.” In our interview, he argues the Democratic Party has been taken over by business elites who have steered the party away from its New Deal roots, and turned it into a party of Wall Street. He says that shift continued through the Obama years, and has driven working-class voters away from the party.
Who is Jeremy Corbyn and how did he send such a shockwave through global politics? Millions of people around the world are asking that question as UK election results appeared to show stunning gains for the Labour Party less than a year after the Brexit vote. I tried to find some answers by calling up […]