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Voting reform bill will likely be blocked, but still a key issue for Democrats

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses the Democrats voting bill.

What is the status on the Democrats voting bill?

The Democrats are pushing a bill that would largely nationalize voting rules, which today are largely determined at the state level. The bill would make Election Day a national holiday. It would attempt to end partisan gerrymandering. It would create a uniform number of early voting days and make other reforms that are designed to standardize voting rules and increase access to voting across the country. This matters to Democrats because they think they face an existential risk to their party's political prospects. They're very likely to lose at least the House and probably the Senate this year. And they see voting changes that are being pushed by Republicans at the state level that they say are designed to make it harder to vote, particularly for minorities, a key Democratic constituency.

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Biden administration's COVID response likely to impact midterms

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses the Biden administration's response to the omicron variant:

How is the Biden administration's response to omicron?

Well, it hasn't been great. It started with the travel ban from affected countries that was already probably behind the curve given how widespread the variant was and the administration admitted they did not see this new variant coming. They were caught flat-footed on the surge in demand for testing over the holidays. And while they first promised to make tests reimbursable by insurance, which is, of course, a real pleasure for Americans who love to deal with their insurance companies, they then said they were going to make 500 million tests available for free, but this isn't even enough to have two tests for every American. And news came out that they were instead of investing in increased manufacturing capacity, what they were doing was going to purchase surplus tests, which could exacerbate private sector shortages. But probably, more importantly, it means that the new free tests were going to arrive probably after the current surge in cases is over.

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Jon Lieber: What’s different about the 2022 midterms is 2024 Trump threat

US midterm elections are normally about voters punishing the party in the White House, which usually loses seats in the House and Senate, and often control of Congress. But not the one this November.

For Jon Lieber, Eurasia Group's US managing director, the big threat to American democracy in this year's midterms is that the Republican Party — now controlled by president Donald Trump — could win gubernatorial and other state-level races in key swing states with candidates who support Trump's bogus claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

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Top Risks 2022: We’re done with the pandemic, but the pandemic ain’t done with us

Eurasia Group, GZERO Media's parent company, has just dropped its annual list of the top 10 geopolitical risks for 2022. Number one is that China's zero-COVID strategy will fail; number two is that we'll move closer to a "technopolar world" with Big Tech companies becoming more powerful than governments; and number three is dangerously divisive US midterm elections in November.

How will these and other 2022 Top Risks play out in today's G-Zero world? Several Eurasia Group experts joined a livestream discussion. Here are a few highlights from each.

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US in 2022: Smarter social media, more housing & living with COVID

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses social media, US housing market, and learning to live with COVID-19:

What are three profound changes that you would foresee that will shift the nation in a good way?

Well, it's kind of hard to be optimistic when you spend too much time looking at US politics, but I'll give you three things I think would help. One, and that will help, one, Americans are going to get smarter about social media. A quiet storyline this year has been an ongoing investigation in Congress into the harm that can be caused by unfettered access to social media platforms. A whistleblower came forward with some evidence from some of the tech companies suggesting that too much time on social media can be harmful, particularly for teen girls. And I think parents are going to start to get smarter about this issue. There won't be legislation, and this will be a slow process. While unfettered 24-7 human contact has been great in many ways, it also has a dark side, and these kinds of congressional investigations will help give parents new tools to help deal with that.

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Top five US political moments of 2021

Well, I can think of five. The first and most important was probably January 6th. Historically important moment, rioters breached the Capitol building in order to stop the legal counting of the presidential election results, but also, it was an important moment because it created a dividing line for Republicans who had to decide if they were with President Trump, who had a role in instigating the riot, or if they were against him. A lot of Republicans ended up choosing to be with him creating various forms of apologies for the rioters over time, and even to some degree making martyrs out of some of them. This will be a really important defining moment, not just in American history, but also for the Republican party.

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Voting reform bill stalls in Congress, frustrating Democrats

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, discusses the voting reform bill.

What is the outlook for a voting reform bill passing Congress?

Well, it's not great. Congress is adjourned for the year without pushing something that's been considered a big priority for Democrats all year, which is voting reform. Voting reform is considered a critical priority because a number of Republican states after the 2020 election have moved to roll back some of the law changes that made it easier for people to vote during the pandemic. Democrats think that these laws make it harder to vote and in particular, disenfranchise minority voters. So Democrats have been working on a compromise bill that would change how congressional districts are drawn, they expand opportunities to vote early, and generally make it easier for people to vote while also reinstating some restrictions on law changes in states where there's a history of discrimination against Black voters.

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If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Democrats will fight at the state level

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

What is happening to Roe v. Wade?

Well, this week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case called Dobbs v. Jackson, which challenges a Mississippi law that would outlaw abortions after 15 weeks in the state. That law itself is a direct challenge to the legal precedent set by Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago, which is one of the most politically important Supreme Court decisions in American history. It has driven deep polarization between the right and the left in the US and become a critical litmus test. There are very few, if any, pro-life Democrats at the national level and virtually no pro-choice Republicans at any level of government. Overturning Roe has been an animating force on the political right in the US for a generation. And in turn, Democrats have responded by making protecting Roe one of their key political missions.

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