Friday Edition


1. The GOP Needs to Get on the Same Page

A group of 170 House Republicans released a budget proposal Wednesday endorsing the idea that life begins at conception and calling for raising the minimum Social Security age. (NBC News)

So what? Led by Donald Trump, the GOP has been vocally pushing the opposite stance on both issues (which are seen as political lightning rods for Republicans).

  • Trump said last month he’d “strongly support the availability” of in vitro fertilization, a treatment which clashes with the idea that life begins at conception.

  • Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has been urging Republicans to stay away from bills that restrict IVF, sharing polling that shows 86% of Americans support the treatments.

  • During his GOP primary campaign, Trump vowed not to raise the Social Security retirement age and opposed cuts to entitlements.

On Thursday, a group of four House Republicans sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs protesting a policy which would expand IVF access for veterans.

An excerpt from the letter: “IVF is morally dubious and should not be subsidized by the American taxpayer. It is well known that IVF treatments result in a surplus of embryos after the best ones are tested and selected. These embryos are then frozen—at significant cost to the parents—abandoned, or cruelly discarded.”

Bubba’s Two Cents: The GOP is sending mixed signals, and it’s coming across as an inauthentic mess. Reforming Social Security is a whole can of worms, but opposing IVF is unpopular and unproductive politically. With America’s support of IVF at an overwhelming 86%, the GOP will have to decide if that’s a hill worth dying on.

2. A Preview of Biden’s 2024 Gameplan

The recent controversy over Donald Trump’s “bloodbath” remarks may have given us a glimpse into how President Biden plans to attack Trump in the upcoming presidential election. (Commentary)

Commentary Magazine senior editor Seth Mandel: “I mean, the bloodbath news cycle that we had a few days ago was the preview, right? They're not going to have an ad that comes out and explains the intricacies of New York bank and loan law and all this other stuff and say, ‘you decide.’ They're going to take whatever they can out of context. I mean, just as Trump's ad people are going to do to them. ‘It's politics and not bean bag,’ … They're not going to assume that anybody knows the background of any of this. … A lot of people are going to understand what happened only through the attacks and then the repetitions of the attacks.”

Earlier this week, top Democrats and many media outlets mischaracterized Trump’s remarks warning about the possibility of an economic “bloodbath” in the auto industry. They accused Trump of threatening violence if he loses the 2024 election.

3. Big Government vs. Big Business

The U.S. government is getting involved in a number of big business decisions, a sign of the growing tension between politics and the free market. (WSJ)

  • TikTok: A bipartisan bill to force a sale of Chinese-owned TikTok passed the House last week.

  • U.S. Steel: Both President Biden and Donald Trump have come out against Japanese-owned Nippon Steel’s takeover of U.S. Steel, with Trump pledging to block the deal if he becomes president.

  • Intel: On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced an $8.5 billion microchip grant to Intel.

  • Apple: The Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, claiming the company has illegally monopolized over the smartphone market.

Wall Street Journal chief economics commentator Greg Ip: “The U.S. isn’t sliding toward socialism, in which the government controls the means of production. It may, however, be slouching toward state capitalism, in which government regularly intervenes in business to ensure it serves the national interest.”

As Ip notes, while the U.S. has never been a purely free market economy, it’s been more guided by capitalism than most countries.

How do supporters of the GOP feel about this shift toward more government control of business?

  • A recent Chamber of Commerce poll found 80% of Republicans still prefer free market-oriented candidates.

  • Other surveys have found GOP voters’ support for regulating tech companies has sharply declined since 2021.

  • A 2022 Gallup survey found 55% of Republicans who said they were dissatisfied by government regulation of businesses wanted regulation to decrease.

Bubba’s Two Cents: In isolation, you can look at any one of the above cases and make an okay argument for why the government should get involved. But questions arise when you start looking at the trend as a whole. How much power are we giving the government when they’re regularly stepping into private sector economic matters, and should that make us a little nervous?

4. A Bad Year for Independents

26% of U.S. adults have a negative opinion of Donald Trump and President Biden. (Gallup)

Young adults (18-29) are more likely (41%) to have unfavorable opinions of both candidates compared to older groups.

  • Overall, 62% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Biden, similar to the 60% who view Trump unfavorably.

Independents are more likely to dislike both candidates. A plurality (37%) of independents view Trump and Biden unfavorably.

Americans’ frustration with their political options has been building:

5. Joe Rogan’s Dominance

Joe Rogan’s podcast is three times more popular than that of his nearest competitor, according to new Spotify follower count data. (Bloomberg)

Chart: Bloomberg

While follower counts may not be a perfect way of gauging who’s tuning in to “The Joe Rogan Experience,” other metrics tell pretty much the same story. Data marketing company DemandSage estimates Rogan brings in 11 million listeners per episode.

For comparison’s sake, Fox News — far and away the most successful cable news network — averages 2.1 million households during primetime.

Rogan is the future? Cable news viewers are aging, but they’re an important demographic because they show up at the ballot box. Rogan’s audience is much younger.

Bubba’s Two Cents: This really puts into perspective how the media landscape is changing and cable news’ influence is waning. People like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Tucker Carlson — that is, primetime cable news hosts — used to be the biggest game in town. Not anymore –– and it’s a lot harder to put a finger on the pulse of America when the biggest media mouthpieces aren’t all clustered in one spot.

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