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Symbols of the Republican and Democratic parties

GZERO Media

If not Biden …

President Joe Biden has given every indication, short of a formal announcement, that he will run for reelection in 2024. But public focus on his age – he’ll be 82 on Election Day – and his higher-but-still-sagging approval ratings continue to feed media speculation, and the hopes of some Democrats, that he’ll follow the lead of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and make room for a younger generation of leaders within his party.

Biden knows that past presidents eligible for reelection who decided not to run have seen their party lose the White House. (See Harry Truman in 1952 and Lyndon Johnson in 1968.) No one within the party wants to publicly push him off stage. As both parties have learned the hard way, a primary challenge for a sitting president can doom the incumbent’s party to defeat. (See Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George HW Bush in 1992.)

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Japanese plaintiffs hold placards reading "A step towards Marriage Equality" outside the court after hearing the ruling on same-sex marriage in Tokyo.

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

What We're Watching: US-Japan send mixed LGBTQ signals, China + Russia rattle South Korea, Congress hits diversity milestone, baguettes get UNESCO nod

US & Japan make same-sex marriage waves

As the US steps forward (a bit) in protecting LGBTQ rights, Japan digs in its heels on the same issue — with a silver lining. On Tuesday night, a filibuster-proof majority of American senators passed a bill to enshrine the right to same-sex marriage in federal law. It repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed US states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, although states will not be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Just hours later, a Tokyo court upheld Japan's ban on gay marriages by ruling against four couples who sued for discrimination. But there's a caveat: the same court admitted that the ban is a violation of human rights. What do these two developments mean on opposite sides of the world? In the US, passing the bill — which still needs a House vote, likely next week — was a rare show of bipartisanship in a culture-war issue like same-sex marriage, which many fear is the Supreme Court's next target after ending the federal right to an abortion. In Japan, the ruling might put pressure on Japanese lawmakers to finally give in and legalize same-sex marriages in the only G-7 country where it's still verboten. That would be a big shift for conservative Asia, where same-sex marriages are only legal in progressive Taiwan.

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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wields the gavel as she presides over the first impeachment of President Donald Trump.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

What We’re Watching: Pelosi’s farewell, #RIPTwitter, Malaysian vote, Iranian rage, UK austerity

Pelosi takes a final bow

Nancy Pelosi is standing down as leader of the Democratic Party in the US House, but she’ll remain in Congress as a representative of San Francisco. She was both the first woman to serve in the ultra-powerful role of House Speaker and a hate figure for many on the right. Pelosi’s personal toughness, Herculean fundraising prowess, and ability to hold together the typically fractious Democratic Party in the House will remain her legacy for Democrats. For Republicans, seeing her pass the gavel to one of their own in January will mark a moment of triumph in an otherwise disappointing midterm performance. In announcing her plans, Pelosi noted that “the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.” At a moment when both parties are led by politicians of advancing age, that’s a big step – and a trend we’ll be watching closely as a new Congress takes shape and the next race for the White House begins. Eurasia Group US Managing Director Jon Lieber says his bet is on 52-year-old Hakeem Jeffries taking the Democratic reins. If Jeffries gets the job, he'll make history as the first Black politician to lead a party in Congress.

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Voters cast their ballots in the midterm election, in Detroit, Michigan.

Reuters

US midterms: What we know and what we don’t

It was anything but a boring night in US politics. Votes are still being tallied in many states, but one thing is clear: There was no red wave.

Here’s what we know – and what we don’t – after a night spent watching breathless vote counting and downing too much coffee.

What we know:

A nightmare scenario for Trump. In Florida, incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis won in a blowout, setting up one helluva showdown with Donald Trump, who is expected to announce his third bid for the White House next week.

Trump appears to be feeling increasingly threatened by DeSantis, a rising Republican star, and has sought to intimidate the Floridian in recent days. Crucially, DeSantis won Miami Dade, Florida's most populous county, by more than 11 points, reflecting the Republican Party's inroads with Hispanic voters.

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Migrants walk along a dirt trail after crossing the Rio Grande river into the US from Mexico in Roma, Texas.

REUTERS/Adrees Latif

US immigration policy: The unfixable political gift that keeps on giving for the GOP

If you had to pick a problem that US politicians keep failing to solve election after election, it might be immigration. Democrats and Republicans love to complain about how broken the system is — and yet always find a way to blame each other when there's an opportunity to fix it.

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Luisa Vieira

Why US partisan gridlock might be good for the economy, stupid

Thirty years ago, Democratic strategist James Carville had a simple message to get Americans to vote for Bill Clinton: "It's the economy, stupid."

Rather than ideology, Carville believed most voters picked candidates over their perceived ability to handle bread-and-butter economic issues. By putting money in their wallets, you're more likely to get votes from independents and moderates — crucial for winning tight state races.

Yet, in 2022 it's Republicans who are channeling their inner Carville to woo voters for a midterm election in which the GOP is favored to win control of the House, and perhaps the Senate too.

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Midterm fights in court

Welcome back to our new daily feature, Midterm Matters, where we pick a red-hot US midterms story and separate the signal (what you need to know) from the noise (what everyone is yelling about).

Less than two weeks before the US midterm elections, more than 100 lawsuits have been filed related to things like mail-in voting, access to the ballot box, voting registration, voting machines, and poll watchers. Does that mean some of the results will be contested? Perhaps. But there's more to it.

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Will US Congress Change Social Security? | US Politics In: 60 | GZERO Media

Will US Congress change Social Security?

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC shares his perspective on US politics.

Is Congress considering changes to Social Security?

No. Social Security's been in the news this week because of a record high adjustment to retirees’ benefits that's set to take place next year. Social Security benefits are indexed to inflation, and with inflation running at over 8% over the last year, seniors are going to get a cost of living adjustment equal to 8.7%. This is the largest increase since 1981 and comes after nearly a decade where Social Security benefits were nearly flat because inflation has been so low and stable. Inflation is continuing to run out of control at the moment, with rent prices and food prices rising at record rates, but this is not the only reason that Social Security's in the news. President Biden and other Democrats are campaigning on the premise that Republicans are set to put Social Security benefits "on the chopping block" should they win in the November elections.

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