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Simplifying The State Episode 5

Middle East Tensions, Arizona’s Abortion Ban, Trump’s Trial Begins, Biden’s Student Debt Relief and Economic Focus

Adam (00:00.678)

Welcome to Simplifying the State; I’m Adam Watson.

Nicholas (00:03.614)

I’m Nicholas Perrin.

Adam (00:05.362)

On today’s show, concerns over an Iranian response to an Israeli air strike on the Iranian embassy in Syria grow, Arizona imposes a new abortion ban, jury selection for Donald Trump’s hush money payments, the trial begins on Monday, Biden announces $7.4 billion in student loan relief and his campaign comes up with Plan B for inflation on the campaign trail.

On April 1, Israel carried out a strike in Syria on the Iranian embassy there. The top military commander for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was killed along with several other top commanders. In a press briefing, National Security Advisor John F. Kirby said, quote, we are certainly mindful of a very public and what we consider to be a very credible threat made by Iran in terms of potential attacks on Israel, unquote. So last night, Iran followed through on its threats, and it launched a bunch of drones and missiles. Now, a lot of these were shot down by various US air defense defenses and Israeli defenses.

It kind of seems like the attack was designed to be not, it was designed to not work because, I mean, they knew it would be shot down. So I mean this, in terms of what I saw in Iran with various articles and stuff, this was probably something to appease the hardliners because they were very angry, and they wanted blood. So my guess was this attack was meant to subdue the hardliners and kind of save face. What do you think?

Nicholas (01:45.45)

Well, it’s an expected response. If any country bombed or just attacked any US Embassy, then they would be met with much the same as what Iran did to Israel.

Yeah, it probably was an attempt to appease the hardliners because Israel’s Iron Dome system is just so good at stopping… Yeah.

Adam (02:20.326)

Missiles and drones, yeah. Yeah, so I definitely think this attack was expected by both the US and Israel. I’m not sure whether there will be any more follow-up. I mean, from, I was reading something that said that the Iranian mission to the UN said that the matter was essentially concluded. So I’m not sure if that’s like… thing to throw Israel off guard if they actually do.

But I think my guess is this is probably a measured proportional response to what Israel did. And so my guess is, without further escalation, that’ll probably be at the end of that specific event. I definitely think this definitely sparks concerns over a wider conflict in the Middle East, which I think Biden has definitely been trying to avoid, which I think pretty much every administration since Bush has been trying to avoid a conflict between Iran and Israel because the two definitely have very tense relations. And so I definitely think there is an attempt on pretty much every administration to avoid things that were seen in the Arab-Israeli War of 1949 or the Iraq-Iran War. I definitely think that every administration tries to keep peace in the Middle East. I definitely think there are issues, but overall, this seems like this specific event is probably concluded.

Nicholas (03:56.69)

You know, any escalation by any country would likely be met with a lot of retaliation from the U.N. and other security council members.

Adam (04:07.188)


Adam (04:10.774)

Right, right. And, I also think this may be settled between Iran directly, but I also think there’s the question of whether it will direct its proxies to do anything which will probably remain to be seen. but that That’s still a concern with what its proxies will do. In domestic news, the Arizona Supreme Court said it would allow the enforcement of a near-total abortion ban except in cases to save the mother’s life.

The 1864 law the Supreme Court allows the prosecution of, quote, a person who provides supplies or administers to a pregnant woman or procures such woman to take any medicine, drugs or substance, or uses, or employs any instrument or other means, whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of such woman, unless it is necessary to save her life. Unquote. So that’s a direct, not a specific language from the 1864 law, which, um, the Arizona Supreme Court said it would be allowed to be enforced. And so what do you think, just kind of looking at the response from Arizona, what do you think?

Nicholas (05:18.186)

Well, this is definitely some of the most extreme abortion, like, takes out of all of the states, and… I mean, like, this has only been, like, perhaps since 1864, like, nearly, actually more than 150 years later, this is being brought up again in a more liberal time in U.S. history probably isn’t going to go too well.

Adam (05:49.094)

Right. There’s definitely a large response from Arizona’s population. I’ve definitely seen a lot of people signing petitions to get, well, seen footage and articles and such of people kind of mobilizing to get signatures to either get abortion on a ballot or something like that. But I definitely think this is probably one of the most advanced and conservative abortion things that we’ve seen. I mean, Arizona, Missouri, Alabama, they have some pretty harsh things. But I definitely think that in terms of the Republican response, it has been kind of a mixed bag. I mean, obviously, you have some Republicans who are very for this, who want to take it even further, no abortions whatsoever.

But the wider Republican demographic, in terms of politicians, have definitely seemed to be backing away from this because they have recognized that abortion nationally is a very widely supported thing in some kind of format, whether that be a complete allowance or only a ban up to so-and-so weeks or something like that to be allowed definitely has significant support from people. And so I think the Republicans are kind of starting to see that and kind of starting to back away from the more extreme conservative abortion bans like this 1864 law, including actually Trump, who put out a statement earlier this week saying that he supports saying that the ban goes too far. And he also, in a previous statement, said that he will support the state’s right to choose about abortion.

Previously, he had been reportedly toying with the idea of a national ban at 16 weeks, 15 weeks, but now he seems to kind of be delegating, saying that it should be delegated to the states because he definitely has to appeal to his base, which is Christian evangelicals, the extreme conservatives, people who want a full abortion ban, and they also have to kind of appeal to the broader base of Republicans, which is we want abortions in some form. So I definitely think he’s probably walking a line between appeasing them and appeasing his base. Speaking of the former president, on Monday, jury selection for his hush money trial is set to begin. Trump will go on trial for felony charges stemming from a $130,000 payment made to adult film star actress Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign to cover up her allegations of an alleged affair in 2006. In Trump’s case, he’s not being charged with the actual payment, but it’s being charged for falsifying business records to allegedly cover up the hush money payment. So, what do you think of just looking at this from a political standpoint in terms of different aspects? What do you think?

Nicholas (08:59.286)

Well, this will definitely hurt his PR if he’s found to be guilty of doing this. And even if he is, and that’s a lot of time he’ll have to stay in a court and not go out into the country and campaign.

Adam (09:12.894)

Right, because he has to be in a courtroom from 8 to 4:30, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. He gets Thursdays and Saturdays and Sundays off to campaign. But he probably wouldn’t be able to go very far if he has to be in court the next day, which could definitely hurt his ability to campaign in states where he needs to be, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, like Georgia. And I…

But you talked about the PR standpoint. I definitely think there’s a PR question to be had here because there is a good amount of Republicans, I think it was like 30%, who said that if he is convicted of one of his criminal trials, he would be unfit for president. Now, they didn’t also ask, the poll also didn’t ask the question of, would you then still vote for him? But I definitely think there is concern amongst Republicans who are not in his base that if he’s convicted, he would not be fit to be president. And so I definitely think there’s the PR concern there for him. There’s also the fundraising concern and the campaigning concern. Although I do think we’ll probably see some of what we saw with the New York civil fraud case, where he was in the rotunda of the courthouse. He was giving fiery speeches. He was talking about all this stuff, firing up the base. So we could probably see something, a lot of what we saw with that.

But I definitely think there will be a reduction in his ability to go out on the campaign trail, but he is fundraising, he definitely needs to be out there fundraising more. I mean, Biden outpaced him in both small-dollar donations and overall donations for the past couple of FEC deadline reports. So, I definitely think there’s a finance issue. Yeah, so that could definitely hurt him.

Uh, on the other side of the Joe Biden, other side of the aisle, uh, the Biden administration announced on Friday, it will cancel $7.4 billion in student debt for 277,000 borrowers, the latest in a series of debt cancellations. Joe Biden also announced plans on Monday to reduce student debt that would benefit at least 23 million Americans, addressing a key issue for young supporters who support him as he seeks reelection in November. So what do you kind of do? What do you see here from his appeal to younger people?

Nicholas (11:46.562)

He’s definitely trying to get more voters on the young side to vote for him as he’s lost quite a few of them in his choices to support Israel during the initial stages of the invasion of Gaza and due to young voters generally not wanting to vote for him.

Adam (12:13.958)

Right, I definitely think there’s a concern on both the age front and on the Israel front that he’s probably lost some support amongst young people. I think, though, that student debt is a big issue with 20 to 30-year-olds, and I definitely think that will probably help him with that younger demographic. I think in, and he’s doing student debt relief, he tried to do it in October on a very wide scale.

A lot of Americans, the Supreme Court struck that down. So he has since been kind of doing it incrementally through SAVE, the SAVE organization that he started. So far nearly 8 million borrowers have enrolled and about 360,000 have seen their remaining debt canceled. And so a couple of months ago there was another thing he rolled out which was to help public works employees, government employees, road workers, stuff like that, to help with their student debt. And then there’s this, which we’re now seeing. And so he’s hoping to reduce the student debt for a lot of people significantly, hopefully by summer. And so I definitely think this will be him trying to appeal to that younger demographic as he tries to put back together the coalition which helped him get elected in 2020.

I also think there’s probably an untapped vein that he could be looking more into in terms of voters, which are the moderate Republicans, the Nikki Haley, Liz Cheney Republicans who are not fans of Trump, who do not like him, who do not like his policies. He could probably be tapping into that and doing ads to either get them to come over to his camp or to either stay home or not vote for Trump. What do you think?

Nicholas (14:05.762)

I mean, yeah, a lot of people, especially young people, are saying they don’t want to vote because they think that all the candidates are just not worth voting for.

Adam (14:19.958)

Right. So I definitely think there will be a question in November of where do I go if I do not like Trump? And so, will they go over to Joe Biden? Will they hold their nose and vote for Trump? Will they vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who’s got some support amongst the more moderate conservatives? I definitely think there will be a question like that in November.

But I also think that there again could be a very, probably like 10% of voters in the Republican Party who might be willing to switch over to Biden if the trial ends, the current, the Hajj-Mahdi trial ends with a worst case scenario for Trump, which could be some prison time if he is found guilty.

So I think if that happens, then we could see some Republicans go over to Biden or stay home because I definitely think there’s been a push by Republicans like Liz Cheney to kind of tell voters not to go vote for Trump, to find an alternative. They haven’t specifically named Biden probably because again, they’re Republicans and they probably…will not tell their voters to vote for Biden unless they feel that Trump is such an extreme threat that it warrants that. But what do you think about that?

Nicholas (15:50.086)

Yeah, a lot of Republicans, moderate Republicans, won’t know where to go. This will probably take two going with whoever they’re most supporting says to go to. If Liz Chaney says to stay home or go wherever — likely the supporters of Liz Chaney will probably do that.

Adam (16:08.148)


Adam (16:18.954)

Right, and there’s definitely not a non-existent amount of those Republican, moderate Republican, independent Republican voters. I think it was like some 20ish percent of Republicans are not supportive of Donald Trump and his ideas, which, I mean, in an election which is going to be as close as this one, you need to get as many of you, as much of your electorate on your side as possible, and he has…not done this extremely well. There was also a campaign rally where he said that he doesn’t want the moderate Republicans, that he doesn’t want the Mitt Romneys of the party to come vote for him, and that it should be completely MAGA, which I think in terms of political moves is not a good one because you need to unite the party as much as possible to get as many voters. And so in an election like this, 20% of Republicans who do not support Trump could be very beneficial to Biden, either by getting them to come over to his side or getting them to stay home. In other news for the Biden campaign, after new inflation data revealed on Wednesday showed an increase in price gains, Biden tried to assure voters that he would remain focused on bringing inflation down in a statement saying, quote, fighting inflation remains my top economic priority, unquote.

So what do you think about what we’re seeing with inflation, where it is right now, where it’s kind of coming from in 2020, 2021, when he first took office, where and what it is right now, and how do you think that might kind of impact people later on in November?

Nicholas (17:59.41)

Well, the inflation for the US right now is hovering around 3.5% from an increase, and the current world average is around 6.8%. So the US economy is doing better than most other countries by quite a significant amount, really. And also, no, I can tell you.

Nicholas (18:29.522)

Okay. Yeah. So, and even with this price increase recently, this is something that Biden probably can control very well in the economy. So whether it be Biden or Trump in office right now, it probably would be around the same.

Adam (18:49.51)

Right, right. I also think when you point out the fact that inflation, US inflation compared to other countries is pretty good, I think that’s true. I also think that with the American electorate, there’s not really a look about where we are compared to other countries. It’s more so looking at how much money I have for this gas and these groceries and stuff like that. And so I think there’s…

Let’s focus on where they are compared to the rest of the world, more so where they are compared to how they were four years ago because Trump is favored more highly in terms of economic issues than Biden. I also think it’s kind of what we saw with Herbert Hoover and Roosevelt, where you were saying this earlier, before we started, before we went on, you were saying that…

When Herbert, after Herbert Hoover took office and FDR took office, and then he started implementing all these economic recovery things, the economy didn’t improve overnight. There was definitely a period for which it improved slightly. It got a little worse and then it started improving rapidly.

And so I think that’s what we’ll probably see in the next couple of years is the leftover from the pandemic, leftover from the recession of 2020, where the economy will do okay, not super great, but it’ll do well enough to avoid a depression or possibly a recession. And then soon we’ll see a reduction in inflation, reduction in gas prices, reduction in mortgage rates as the Fed brings down rates as inflation lowers. And so I definitely think we’ll see that. So I definitely think the economic issue is more of an issue that falls on whoever is currently in charge and in office.

The other guy, if the economy was better under them, would probably be more favorably than the guy currently in office.

Adam (20:57.043)

So what do you think about the economic issue?

Nicholas (21:03.226)

We sort of Trump being more positive on the economic side and like polling better in some areas. People tend to go to other parties and other people on the political spectrum.

Adam (21:10.793)


Nicholas (21:22.182)

Other than the one in office right now is sort of a protest against things that the current government is doing. Although at the, like, nearing election, the people who did go to those other parties will, some of them will come back because they’ve protested and they still like the current government better than the others. So, the current government will be pulling better.

Adam (21:41.38)


Adam (21:48.838)

Yeah, I know that the economy and the border are places where Trump is viewed more favorably as opposed to Biden. And so I definitely think there’ll be an attempt by Biden to win people back over on the border and the economy.

Thank you so much for listening to Simplifying the State, and we will see you next time. Thank you to Nicholas Perrin for joining us. See you guys next time.

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Adam Watson
Adam Watson, Reporter
Adam Watson is a freshman and new reporter for Globe this year. His interests encompass history, politics, and video games.
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