Georgia Senate election is a game changer for Biden; Trump's effect on GOP's future

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on US politics:

First question. What do the results of the Georgia Senate election mean?

Well, this is a real game changer for President Biden. He came into office with the most progressive agenda of any president in modern history and the Republicans controlling the Senate were prepared to block all of that. That meant no education spending, no healthcare spending, very little green energy spending and probably no stimulus spending, further COVID stimulus spending this year. Now the Democrats seem to have a majority in the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives. All of that can get done as well as tax increases in order to finance it. The concern now for the Democrats is overreach that could lead to backlash. They have very thin majorities in the House, and the trend has been that in the first midterm for a new president, you almost always lose seats in the House. Democrats can't really afford to lose too many. That may cause them to moderate some of their plans.


Second question. What's the future for President Trump and the Republican party?

Last night's Georgia elections were not good for President Trump. He really campaigned hard for the two Republican candidates. They really embraced him and ran as Trump Republicans in a state that's rapidly moderating and turning purple-ish, if not all the way blue. But the problem is for the Republicans is that President Trump has a strong base of voters who are very loyal to him. Many of them are here in Washington this week to protest the counting of the electoral college votes. Ultimately that will be a futile effort, but the fact that they're here, they're passionate supporters, they make up a big chunk of the Republican base, it's going to create problems the Republican party in the 2022 primaries. And you've got seats in the Senate in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, traditional swing states where they're going to have either vulnerable Senate Republican incumbents or open seats. And the primaries there are going to be quite competitive. If a Trump backed person emerges from those primaries, they're probably going to lose in the general election the way Loeffler and Perdue did in Georgia. It's going to be hard for Republicans to take back the majority in the Senate as long as that dynamic persists.


Third question. Why are Republicans objecting to the electoral counts this week?

Well, the reason is that the president's in spinning these conspiracy theories about fraud in Arizona, Georgia, and a couple of other states. And he's got enough allies, which shows this depth of his support in Congress that about a quarter of Senate Republicans are set to object and potentially several dozen, potentially maybe over 100 House Republicans are going to object on his behalf. Ultimately, this is going to fail. It's basically just theater. The Republicans want to signal to the world that they are aligned with President Trump. They're likely to face a lot of blowback repudiation from members of their own party.

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In recent days, Northern Ireland has seen some of its worst street violence in over a decade. The anger has subsided a bit this week, but post-Brexit fears leave many uncertain about their future in a deeply divided land with a long history of political violence between Irish republicans and UK unionists.

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Iran has vowed to avenge Sunday's attack on its Natanz nuclear facility. Tehran blames Israel, which — as in the past — has neither confirmed nor denied it was responsible. And all this happens just days after indirect talks on US plans to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed in Vienna. What the Iranians do now will determine the immediate future of those negotiations, a Biden administration priority.

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week on World In 60: J&J vaccine woes, Blinken warns China, Fukushima water and a large rabbit.

How will the pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect the overall pandemic fight in the United States?

Yeah. Right at it, right? Well, we heard that the FDA has suspended vaccines from J&J because of blood clots. They found six in seven million cases. It's kind of like the suspension of AstraZeneca in Europe. It's likely only going to last for a few days. It's a very small percentage of the total number of vaccines that are being jabbed right now into the arms of Americans. It's not going to really slow America's ability to get everyone vaccinated, but it is going to create more vaccine hesitancy. People at the margins will say, "Is this safe? They said it was fine. Now they're saying it's not okay." I understand why there's enormous caution on the part of the FDA, but I wish, wish, wish the communications had been a little softer around all of this. Also will be a problem in terms of export, as J&J is going to be a piece of that. And again, others around the world will say, "Well, if I don't get Moderna, if I don't get Pfizer, I'm not sure I want to take it at all." So all of this is negative news, though I would still say the United States this year is looking really, really good among major economies in dealing with pandemic.

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750 million: While struggling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world right now, India has approved Russia's Sputnik V COVID vaccine. Moscow has a deal in place to produce 750 million doses of the shot in India.

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In recent weeks, both Pfizer and Moderna have announced early phases of vaccine trials in children, and Johnson & Johnson also plans to start soon. If you know a kid who wants to learn about vaccines, how they work, why we need them, this story is just what the doctor ordered.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week and I've got your Quick Take and thought I would talk a little bit about where we are with Iran. One of the Biden administration's promises upon election was to get the Americans back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. As of last week, negotiations are formally restarted, and pretty quickly, in Vienna, they're not direct. The Americans and Iranians are both there, but they're being intermediated by the Europeans because they're not yet ready to show that they can talk directly to each other. That's Iran being cautious in the run-up to their presidential election coming this summer. But the movement is there. So far the talk has largely been about sequencing the Iranian government, saying that all of the sanctions need to be removed before they're willing to go back into the deal, because the Americans after all, unilaterally withdrew from a deal that the Iranians were indeed adhering to, and the inspections did confirm that.

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