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"Red Wave" Coming in US Midterms | Quick Take | GZERO Media

"Red wave" coming in US midterms

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. A Quick take to get you started on your week, and of course, we are looking forward, if that's the right term, to tomorrow's midterm elections in the United States. Increasingly a time of political dysfunction and tension and polarization and conflict, and tomorrow will certainly be no different.

First of all, in terms of outcomes, almost always in the United States, the party that is not in power, that doesn't occupy the presidency, picks up seats in the midterms. Tomorrow should be no different. Biden's approval ratings are not incredibly poor, but certainly low. View of the economy, which is the top indicator that most people say they are voting on, is quite negative, and expectations are negative going forward, even though the US isn't quite in a recession.

That means that the Republicans will easily win the House. I don't think that there's any need to question predictions around that front. It's more whether it's 15 seats or whether it's 30 seats, how much of a wave it actually looks like. Some believe that it's easier to govern if there's a 30-seat swing, because that will mean that the Republicans will be less beholden to relatively extreme members of their caucus.

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Paige Fusco

Is US support for Ukraine waning?

Republicans and Democrats disagree on pretty much everything these days, yet they’ve shown remarkable unity to date on one issue: Ukraine.

But as midterm elections loom, the winds are changing in Washington, D.C., where an increasing number of legislators on both sides of the aisle – particularly Republicans – have warned that the days of unchecked handouts to Ukraine could soon be over.

That’s bad news for Ukraine, of course, but it’s also bad news for President Joe Biden, who has staked his dwindling reputation on being able to unite a Western alliance – including a politically divided US – against an aggressive Russia.

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Luisa Vieira

Can Biden’s IRA work IRL?

US Democrats have long been gunning for a win, and they finally got one in recent days. After months of painstaking negotiations and internal party turmoil, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a key component of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

This paves the way for the $700 billion legislative package, which includes massive investments in climate change mitigation, healthcare, and tax reform, to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law. The House begins its deliberations on Friday.

The bill took many forms in recent months in efforts to win the support of fiscally hawkish Democrats. But despite ample rewrites, many climate-related provisions managed to pass the smell test. What’s in the bill, what’s not, and how might it impact everyday Americans?

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Wheat harvesting in Kyiv, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

What We’re Watching: A grain of truth & a win for Biden

No pain no grain

Russia and Ukraine are hardly beating their swords into plowshares, but at least the fruits of the harvest are once again on the move from Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa. Earlier this week saw the departure of the first grain boat from there since the signing of a tenuous new export security deal between Ukraine, Turkey, the UN, and Russia. The return of Ukrainian grain to world markets is welcome news for countries that depend heavily on the country’s exports, as well as for broader food prices around the globe. But it will take months to get back to pre-war export levels, warns the Ukrainian government. The next few weeks will see only about half a dozen departures compared to the normal level of about 200 every August. A big question looms: the first boats to leave Odesa will be ones that were stuck there for months, but it’s unclear whether a large number of grain traders will be willing to take the immense financial and insurance risk of sending fresh boats to Odesa. GZERO reader Jonathan Grange, a grain trader at Sunstone Brokers in Switzerland, tells us that a fully laden grain boat is worth about $70 million — “who,” he asks, “wants to assume the risk of a Russian misfire on this value?”

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US President Joe Biden

REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

Joe Biden: good news bad news

There is good political news ahead for Joe Biden. The trouble is that, for the embattled US president, bad news never seems far behind.

For example…

Good news: His party’s lawmakers look set to score some major legislative victories. On Tuesday, the US Senate passed a $280 billion package of subsidies and research funding to bolster US competitiveness in semiconductors and other advanced technology, with significant Republican support. In coming weeks, Democratic majorities in Congress are also expected to pass the first big prescription drug legislation in a generation, which is expected to lower the cost of prescription medication, and to enshrine the right to same-sex and inter-racial marriage into federal law, a highly popular step with Democratic voters.

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President Joe Biden speaks about gas prices at the White House.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

What We're Watching: Biden's gas tax holiday plan, deadly quake in Afghanistan, Italy's Five Star party woes

Biden’s gas tax holiday fuels tepid response

In a bid to address rising gas prices at home, President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for a gas tax holiday that would lift federal taxes on gas and diesel for the next three months. The move aims to show that the White House is taking the plight of Americans seriously after gas prices topped a whopping $5 a gallon last week. But Congress is unlikely to approve the suspension. Even Democrats – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – have canned the idea, saying that it is tokenistic because lifting federal taxes (18 cents per gallon) will barely move the needle, and that any small gains will be made by … oil companies. Critics also say that it won't have a significant impact on the base price of gas, with all taxes on average (state and federal) accounting for just 12% of the overall price. Indeed, this is the latest (desperate) attempt by the Biden administration to tackle the rising cost of living that is pummeling working-class Americans and contributing to his cratering poll numbers ahead of November’s midterm elections. The next step? In July, Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia to try and get Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to pump more oil.

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3 Takeaways From State of the Union Address | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden's State of the Union address: 3 takeaways

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares his perspective on how the State of the Union address.

Today's topic is: Three takeaways from last night's State of the Union address.

My first takeaway is that Biden hasn't backed down at all from his aggressive and very progressive agenda, listing off a series of policies that excited Democrats, but are really non-starters with Republicans, from gun control to immigration reform. None of this is going to happen because Biden lacks the votes in the House and definitely in the Senate. And the parts that do happen are really up to the whims of one man, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin who signaled today that he was willing to work with the White House on parts of Biden's agenda, including drug price reform, money for decarbonization, reforming the tax code, and deficit reduction. And it's really up to Democrats to decide if that would be enough for them.

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Biden’s SCOTUS Pick to Replace Breyer Must Appeal to Senate Dems | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden’s SCOTUS pick to replace Breyer must appeal to Senate Democrats

What does Stephen Breyer's retirement mean for President Biden? Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses how Biden and the Democrats will likely handle the Supreme Court nomination process.

What does Stephen Breyer's retirement mean for President Biden?

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced retirement this week, giving Biden the opportunity to appoint a new justice and maintain the balance on the court, which is currently divided 6-3, favoring Republican appointees. Whoever Biden nominates is extremely unlikely to get even a single Republican vote, but the nominee is likely to come relatively quickly and be confirmed well before Republicans take the Senate in the November midterm elections.

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