Amy Walter and Annie Linskey on how the Inflation Reduction Act could impact the midterms

Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter and Annie Linskey of The Washington Post join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest political news, including the Democrats' major legislative victory with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in the Senate and what that could mean for November’s midterm elections.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now to talk about the political stakes of the Democrats' major legislative victory, I am joined by Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter and Annie Linskey with The Washington Post. Tamara Keith is away.

    Hello to both of you.

    So it's been a big weekend here in Washington. Congress got something done. They passed the Democrats' victory in the Senate.

  • Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Amy, what do you make of this? I mean, we're not used to seeing this.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, not certainly in recent months, although, as I said the other week, Democrats have had a pretty good run of things for the course of this summer, between guns and the semiconductor bill and now this, which, of course, has to still make it through the House. But that's still a big success.

    The question is its long-term and short-term political implications, right? And in the short term, what we know historically is, even parties that pass major legislation during a midterm year, whether it was Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or Donald Trump or LBJ, they have not been rewarded in a midterm year for big legislative policy victories.

    Now, two years later, in a presidential election, perhaps. But all of those presidents lost seats in the House in their first midterm election. The other real big question for the short term is, are voters going to feel better about the economy by October, November? You can have people come on and tell you everything about it's called the Inflation Reduction Act, and things are getting better, and we're not in a recession.

    But, right now, people believe we're headed to a recession. And the consumer confidence index is about as low as it has been in its history.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Annie, what about that? I mean, we heard Brian Deese from the White House just a few minutes ago saying, oh, people are going to feel — they're going to see it in their lower prescription drug prices, medical bills.

    But how much of that is going to be felt?

  • Annie Linskey, The Washington Post:

    Well, I think that's right. Amy's right. It won't be felt immediately.

    But I think — I hate for one thing to get lost here, which is, this is a very big piece of legislation. I mean, Democrats — I was thinking about its recently — I mean, since the turn of this millennia, have been talking about this talking point of, we are going to have Medicare negotiate for prescription drug prices.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Annie Linskey:

    We have heard this talking point from this party for the last 25 years. And they have finally done it.

    And so I do think that that is something that they can say to their voters, that they got a major piece of their agenda done. I think it's right. A lot of things that they asked for, they did not get done. There's no child tax credit. That's been off the table.

    But there are things here that Democrats can talk about in the fall. And talking to some Republicans about this, they are also saying they realize that they will be on defense on the prescription drug piece, but also, interestingly, the pay-for. They are realizing that Democrats really do have a good populist talking point that they are paying for this bill by having the richest companies in the country, in the world, really, that haven't been paying taxes, the companies that have had zero taxes that they have paid suddenly having to pay taxes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, you're going to see corporate — a minimum corporate tax, again, as we heard Brian Deese talking about.

    And you're also — you're going to hear more conversation about the deficit. Democrats can say, we're doing something about the deficit. The question is, how much are voters connecting with that?

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

    How much are voters believing and — believing that? And the other important piece, piggybacking on what Annie said about passing legislation they have talked about for years, it's not insignificant what they have done on climate. And for Democratic-leaning voters, climate is a top issue.

    Even as inflation and abortion, those issues continue to rise in concern for Democratic voters, especially younger voters, the key elements of the Democratic coalition, they are very concerned about climate. And so they have a story to tell.

    Is it enough for this election? Don't know, but certainly something for 2024 as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Because so many — there's so much focus, Annie, right now on the midterms, understandably.

    I mean, the Democrats want to hold down their losses in the House. And, certainly, they want to hold on — hold onto the Senate.

    Speaking of which, we have more August primaries — we have spoken about that before.

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Coming up, Annie, tomorrow in four states, including Wisconsin, a state that we are watching very closely, hard-fought between former President Trump, who's been in there endorsing his favorite and other candidates.

    What are you looking for?

  • Annie Linskey:

    I think the big race that everybody's going to be watching tomorrow night — and you're right — that Wisconsin governor's race. It's the Republican primary.

    And there — as you pointed out, you have a candidate that Trump has backed and a candidate that Pence — that the former Vice President Pence has backed. And I think what's interesting in this particular one is, the two candidates, honestly, are not that different. I mean, you're not looking at a scenario where you have sort of a truly more moderate candidate vs. a more extreme candidate.

    These are candidates that have policy positions that are quite similar. They both sort of flirted with denying the 2020 election. They have similar views on abortion. It's more of a stylistic difference.

    And so I think what you're really going to see is, yes, this will be a test of, how much sway does Trump continue to have over the primary? But whoever wins on — whoever wins tomorrow is still going to be somebody who has talked about denying the election and has not really embraced that Biden is president of the United States.

  • Amy Walter:

    It is sort of funny in Wisconsin to think about.

    So, Scott Walker, the — one of — his lieutenant governor, who he's endorsed, is one of those candidates in the primary. Scott Walker was the original Tea Party. He was the anti-establishment. Now his candidate is being derided as part of the RINO establishment by Donald Trump, as well as the speaker of the House, Robin Vos, who has been just really, for Democrats, the person who they fought up against time and time again.

    And yet Donald Trump has endorsed Vos' primary opponent. Why? Because Vos will not admit that the election was stolen or rigged or believe in the big lie that the president put forward. So it is quite remarkable that, in just a very short amount of time, the people who were on the vanguard…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    On the vanguard.

  • Amy Walter:

    … of bringing Republicans into power in that state and taking a sort of no-holds-barred approach are now seen as the moderates, and they are part of the establishment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Which sets it up for, in November, Annie, a really fascinating contest…

  • Annie Linskey:

    Yes. Oh, absolutely.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    … in Wisconsin and these other states we have been looking at.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Well, I think in Wisconsin in particular, I think the Senate race there will be of particular interest.

    I mean, there, you have Mandela Barnes, a 35-year-old African American, working-class roots candidate, who will be taking on Ron Johnson, who is much older. He's very wealthy. He's a much more sort of traditional Republican and has said sort of a number of very controversial things.

    And so you will have a fascinating contest between those two.

  • Amy Walter:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You have — and you're the one who said no more August primaries.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Amy Walter:

    Right, but they keep coming.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But there's some interest in these.

  • Amy Walter:

    No, there's a lot. There's a lot going on in this.

    And, eventually, what we're going to see is many of these candidates that Donald Trump has endorsed, they are right now in some of these Senate races running behind where they should be, given the environment. Are they going to be able to catch up before November? And, if so, will Trump get the blame for perhaps Democrats keeping hold of the Senate?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Utterly fascinating, all of it.

  • Amy Walter:

    Totally. It's a lot of fun.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Amy Walter, Annie Linskey, thank you both.

  • Annie Linskey:

    Thank you.

  • Amy Walter:

    You're welcome.

  • Annie Linskey:

    It's great.

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