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February 08, 2023
What A Day
Going Deep With The Veep

In This Episode

  • Despite some combative moments from Republican lawmakers, Tuesday’s State of the Union address was meant to deliver a message of unity to a divided Congress. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to What A Day co-host Juanita Tolliver about some of President Biden’s bipartisan wins – and his challenge to Congress to “finish the job.”
  • And in headlines: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy paid a surprise visit to the U.K., Disney announced a massive restructuring plan that will cut 7,000 jobs worldwide, and LeBron James broke the all-time NBA scoring record.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, February 9th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day where we think Mitt Romney telling George Santos, you don’t belong here at the State of the Union has the heat to become the new, you can’t sit with us. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Move over, mean girls. It is time for the normally boring elder statesman. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: This is your moment, Mitt. Take George Santos down so we don’t have to. I’d really appreciate it. [laugh] [music break] On today’s show, the death toll continues to climb in Turkey and Syria following Monday’s massive earthquake. Plus, Ukraine’s president paid a surprise visit to the United Kingdom. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But first, the takes following President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday are rolling in. So we wanted to take some time to walk you through what people are saying and what matters, especially for those of you who didn’t watch the entirety of the address for yourselves. This is what we’re here for. We got you. No worries. So the overarching theme of this speech, at least in our view, was really more of a bipartisan unity message than we’ve heard from Biden in past addresses. We have a divided government now as opposed to the last time he did this, which could be part of the reasoning behind the shift. But of course, so could the timing as he potentially heads into another campaign for the presidency. But Biden highlighted big bipartisan wins from his first two years in office, including Infrastructure, the CHIPS Act, veterans benefits and more. Telling Congress and the country, quote, “Let’s finish the job”. That, of course, does not sound like a man who wants to throw in the towel quite yet. So as you spoke about with Jon on yesterday’s show Juanita, that message of let’s finish the job, could become a convincing one for Joe Biden. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: In my mind, it was a campaign slogan in beta testing, Right. Like this was a– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –moment where we know Biden had a massive audience. Millions of people tuned in to watch this. And so he’s test driving some of this stuff. So I expect us to hear this again. And Jon Favreau’s dad agrees. So shout out to us. [laughter]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Shout out to you two. The only political pundits I need, but unsurprisingly, the bulk of the focus of the State of the Union has been on the disruptions that happened during the speech. Let’s take a listen. 

 

[clip of President Joe Biden] Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage. I get it. Unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what those plans are. [roused chatter in background] Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security sunset. I’m not saying it’s a majority. [booing crowd noise and objection yelling sounds] Let me give you anybody who doubts it, contact my office. I’ll give you a copy. I’ll give you a copy of the proposal. [loud audience noise continues] That means Congress doesn’t vote. Well, I’m glad to see. And I tell you, I enjoy conversion. [laughter] You know it means, if Congress doesn’t keep the programs the way they are, they’d go where the Republicans say. I’m not saying it’s a majority of you. I don’t even think it’s even a significant. [indistinct heckling] What is being proposed by individuals. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, my God. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: What I wish I wish I wish that track included the sound of McCarthy shushing his conference because he told them, going into this address, to act like you know better. Act like you understand the sense of decorum. But they just couldn’t contain themselves. They couldn’t help themselves. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: My mind is just stuck on the TikTok audio, which is how broken my brain is. But it’s like, what on earth is going on in the House of Commons? Like, [laughter] this is the vibe that we’re getting. This is crazy. What is happening? [laughing] 

 

Juanita Tolliver: That’s the energy they were bringing for sure. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Thankfully, he was very quick on his feet in response there. We love to see him not getting flustered, even though that’s crazy. But these very vocal outbursts do sort of highlight the people he’s dealing with here. And, you know, some of the contentiousness that we can expect between Congress and the president over the next year or two, especially with the fight over the debt ceiling coming up. And, of course, another election cycle. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. Essentially, the drama is just beginning, so we all better buckle up. But during the State of the Union address, President Biden also gave Vice President Harris a number of shout outs about her work on abortion, climate change, and small businesses. And I had a chance to catch up with the VP yesterday while filling in for Zerlina Maxwell on Sirius XM Progress to discuss the address and her planned trips to Georgia and Minnesota. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, okay. Pause for just a moment. [laughter] You said that pretty casually. You got a chance to talk to the vice president of the United States of America. That is so extremely cool. Oh, my God. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I did my absolute best to hold it together Priyanka. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Well, listen, I’m not meeting the vice president, so I don’t have to hold it together here. That is so cool. [laugh]

 

Juanita Tolliver: Bless. I just started by asking Vice President Harris about the millions of Americans who applied to start small businesses and how she worked to ensure that they had access to capital and resources during the past two years. Take a listen to what she had to share: 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: My second mother was a small business owner. She owned a nursery school that in fact we lived– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh! 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –on the apartment, in the apartment upstairs. And she was a business owner, a community leader, a civic leader. She was, you know, an auntie and a grandmother to so many people in the community she– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –hired locally. And so when I think about small businesses, my first thought is about who small business owners are, and that’s who they are across our country. Not to mention they are part of the economic fabric and lifeblood of communities. And so I think about it through that lens. I think about it in terms of the overall strength of our economy. Over– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –half of American workers work for a small business, or own a small business. So my focus has been on getting them what they need and in particular for minority and women owned businesses, access to capital. I have– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –traveled the country. I’ve met with so many small business owners who told me about how they had an idea, how they had, you know, they were innovative but went to a big bank and heard a term they’d never heard before. And the term that they heard was they were told they were unbankable. Well– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh. Goodness. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: But see, this is the issue, right? So many of our small business owners who are community based, they’re in touch with their community, but the big bank doesn’t necessarily understand the– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –community as well as the community banks do. So my work has been to get billions of dollars to community banks to give access to capital to these small businesses. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I love that. And the proximity makes a difference and I love that it’s personal for you. Um. I also know that after this interview, you’re going to be hitting the road. You’re headed to Atlanta, Georgia. You’re going to be talking through climate change, clean transit, infrastructure investments. And when it comes to climate change, you’ve been explicitly clear that urgency is key. So can you tell me a little bit about what people in Georgia and Minnesota should expect to feel and see as some of these investments come to fruition and translate into action in their states? 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: I mean, first of all, we’ve been seeing and feeling the extreme climate crisis, right? So everything–

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –from hurricanes, to floods in my home state of California, droughts and also floods. Right. So what we are saying is that, one, it is an issue that is banging on the door for immediate action, but the solutions also create opportunities. I’m very excited about what we are doing to create a whole new industry around a clean energy economy. And that’s the work that’s going to require folks to be involved in not only the installation and maintenance of solar panels and wind turbines, but the work that’s going to go into creating the manufacturing and the building back up and the building of America’s infrastructure around resilience and adaptation to climate. And back to the point about small businesses, do you know that the vast majority of American manufacturing companies hire and have 20 or less employees? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I did not know that. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: Yes. Yes. And so when we’re talking about who is the construction worker or they have a construction firm. Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: Who are the folks who are involved in the manufacturing, kind of the chain of the businesses that are involved in helping to build up our infrastructure. We’re also talking about small businesses. And those jobs are good paying jobs. Those jobs, so many of them do not require a four year college education, but they do require the kind of skills that you can get through an apprenticeship program like at IBEW in our union shop. So I’m going to be on the road, as I’ve been talking with folks about the jobs, about the way we are going to invest in a future economy and most importantly, how we are going to reduce the harm of this climate crisis, because in particular, our young leaders know it will be on their watch that they’re going to pay the biggest price. And so we want to look to them for their leadership to help get the solutions implemented. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I love that and I love the emphasis on the good paying jobs that are going to come out of this, especially the ones that require skills beyond a four year degree. Like this is something that is accessible and shout out to the unions that are helping with those training programs. And Madam Vice President, I got to say, the tone of the address was optimistic and the president was giving strong energy and kept coming back to a theme that was about it’s time to finish the job. And to me it sounded like a campaign slogan in the making. So is that how you and the president want the public to interpret this speech as we look ahead to 2024? 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: I think that what the president has been so clear about and what we all should understand is that we’ve created a historic number of jobs, 12 million jobs in just the last few years. We have brought down you know over the past many months the cost of gas as compared to where it was um at its height. We’ve had a lot of accomplishments, but there’s still a lot of folks who are hurting. And– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –when the president talks about let’s finish the job, I know that what he means is let’s implement all these policies. Let’s get it in the water that now, seniors only have to pay $35 a month for their insulin. Let’s– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –see it through and get the job done where we, because of our administration, are now going to cap the cost of prescription drugs just for seniors to $2,000 a year. Let’s finish the job. And I think one of the things about our president that people really should understand, we are not about just sitting around patting ourselves on the back saying, okay, we’ve done it. No.

 

Juanita Tolliver: Not at all.

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: There’s more work to do. Let’s finish the job. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I appreciate that, especially in the context of the historic success and the fact that more is coming and a lot of people are going to feel that soon. And one other issue where people are going to be looking for more support is an issue you’ve been leading on, access to abortion. President Biden was clear that he would veto any anti-abortion bills coming from Republicans, noting their intentions to try to pass a national abortion ban. So as you’ve been leading the White House’s fight for reproductive rights, how do you plan to continue to defend access to abortion, health care from these types of attacks? 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: Well, I’m going to continue to talk with the folks, especially the leaders on the ground, about supporting what they know needs to happen at the state level, as well as pushing for what we need to do, which is have a federal law passed that ensures the protections that Roe– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –provided. But, you know, I was in Florida recently, for example. I mean, the laws that some of these states are passing that would criminalize health care providers, that would make it difficult for people to get access to basic reproductive care. That includes abortion, but not always. This is the kind of work we have to fight back against. And the bottom line is this is about freedom and liberty. We are a nation that was founded on the belief that all people should be entitled to certain freedoms and liberty, and in particular, the ability of an individual to make decisions about their own body and not have their government tell them what to do. Listen, one does not have to abandon their faith. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: To believe and agree that the government should not be telling her what to do with her body. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And prohibiting her from lifesaving care. I know one of the guests was Amanda Zurawski, whose family experienced that trauma in Texas because as she was experiencing a miscarriage. Doctors were too afraid to give her adequate care for fear of violating the Texas abortion ban. It’s that type of concern that I think people are living with every day because it’s, in addition to the autonomy and privacy, it’s also about lifesaving care. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: Absolutely. And I was with Amanda in Florida. If you hear her story, she and her husband suffered horribly. And I think that, again, we should all agree that we are a nation that is a developed nation that so we say about ourselves. And that should mean that women should be able to get the health care they need and should not unnecessarily suffer because of some backward approach. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. And one more question before you go, on democracy. The president was sure to emphasize that none of the progress, none of the gains, none of the historic work that you all have been doing in this administration would have been possible without democracy. Is that a message that you also plan to take on the road in the coming weeks and months? 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: Absolutely. And that’s going to be about fighting to restore voting rights in places that have tried to restrict voting rights like Georgia. It’s going– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Vice President Kamala Harris: –to be about fighting to make sure that we all support election workers. We’ve heard the horrible stories of people who are just doing their civic duty, to the election workers being threatened. And it’s about the work that we need to do, saying that we are a country that was based on laws and principles that should be upheld. That’s what makes us a role model around the world. But we have to fight for that. We can’t take it for granted. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: That was my conversation with Vice President Kamala Harris. And while she deflected my question about 2024. Priyanka, I think we already know what’s up. I think we know what’s coming in a few weeks. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you’re right. Okay. But this is such a cool experience. I just have to ask you, what was your biggest take away from that conversation? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Look, I think that the vice president made it absolutely clear that she and President Biden are firm and fortified in what they want to do. They want to keep trying to deliver for Americans. They want to make sure the public knows they did this along with Democrats in Congress. So that that all comes back to them in 2024. So make sure people know what was up and what they delivered, but also that people feel the benefits of all the policies that Democrats in the White House have been fighting for for years. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: We’ll be right back after some ads. [music break]. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Rescue and recovery operations continue for a fourth day today in Turkey and Syria. As of our record time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, the combined death toll from both countries has reached over 12,000 people. Survivors who have lost their homes are now struggling to find shelter as the region has been gripped in freezing cold temperatures. At least 70 countries have already pledged to send aid to Turkey, and the U.N. is working to get resources to war torn Syria. Meanwhile, the aftermath of the earthquake appears to be triggering some political rumblings. Critics of Turkey’s president, who is up for reelection in May say that he failed to prepare for such a disaster and that his government’s response has been too slow. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky paid a surprise visit to the UK yesterday, kicking off an unannounced diplomatic tour of Europe meant to rally support for his country’s defense against Russia. This is only the second known instance of Zelensky leaving Ukraine since the invasion began last year. He addressed the British Parliament and thanked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for his pledge to train Ukrainian fighter pilots and also gave a small shout out to former Prime minister Boris Johnson, who backed Ukraine early on in the war before he was forced out of office. Zelensky also made a stop in Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. He’s expected to visit Brussels today to address the European Parliament. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Disney announced a massive restructuring plan that will cut 7000 jobs worldwide in an effort to save five and a half billion dollars. Our condolences to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, who is probably about to be told that their job is redundant. The reorganization, which has been underway since CEO Bob Iger returned to the job in November, will also split the company into three separate divisions. Disney Entertainment, comprising of its streaming and media operations, a Parks Experiences and products unit, and ESPN gets to do its own thing. Meanwhile, the majority of Disney’s cost saving measures will come from its content budget, as streaming platforms like Disney Plus and its competitors look for ways to make their platforms more profitable. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And some news from the Keystone State. Democrats will take control of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives after sweeping three special elections Tuesday night. They stand on the shoulders of giants and by giants we specifically mean Senator John Fetterman. Though Democrats hold a razor thin 102 to 101 advantage, it will be the first time in over a decade that the party will have a majority in those chambers. This matters a lot. Ahead of the 2024 presidential election, because with Democrats in the majority that all but guarantees that Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes won’t be disputed. Just in case there’s a revival of the stop the steal foolishness we saw in 2020. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, seriously, this has huge implications for our democracy and our elections, but also is such a big win. I mean, this hasn’t happened– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Huge! 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –in over a decade. So huge. Congratulations. Huge thank you to the volunteers, the organizers, the people that made this happen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Exactly. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: This is huge. 

 

[clip of unspecified Sports announcer] Looking for James. He’s got it. [crowd cheering] Coming to the end of the third quarter. LeBron James, a shot at history. And there it is! [crowd cheering] LeBron stands alone.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: If you saw the goat emoji trending on Twitter this week, do not worry. The Dallas Zoo did not have another breakout. With a fadeaway jumper Tuesday night in front of a home crowd in Los Angeles. You just heard the audio. LeBron James became the NBA’s all time leading scorer, ending his night against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a career total of 38,390 points. James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s previously held record of 38,387, which the fellow Lakers legend had held since April of 1984, about nine months before James was even born. Abdul-Jabbar watched the game from the Lakers bench before symbolically passing the torch, handing James the game ball. Also in the Crypto.com arena to witness the historic moment was a crowd fit for the Grammys with stars like Jay-Z, Bad Bunny, L.L. Cool J, Denzel Washington and Usher in attendance. It really was a huge night in Crypto.com arena. It feels wrong to say that every single time, but it was very cool. Our sincere congratulations to the goat. Maybe now we will forgive him for Space Jam, a new legacy. I’m sorry, I’m still not. But this is really cool. [laughter] That doesn’t excuse what happened [laughing] with that film. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Look, I hope this puts to rest any question about LeBron James’ capabilities, abilities, and standing within NBA history like he’s the best period. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: My god. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: But also Priyanka lay off Space Jam. Space Jam did what it needed to do. I celebrate Space Jam. I celebrate LeBron James’ creativity on and off the court. And that’s all I got to say on that. [laughter]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah yikes. You know I’m going to let him have his moment. I’m not going to rebut that. But [laughter] the original space jam, I think everyone will say that one was better. But anyways, and those are [laughing] the headlines. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Turn a red state blue and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just how much people spent on tickets to see LeBron on Tuesday like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

[spoken together] And it’s called the Staples Center. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Can we get a return to that? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, it is. Yes, it always will be. I don’t know if Staples has money to do this, but like we should just call it that for ever. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: But do we think Crypto.com has money for this still– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah um. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –like come on. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Nah uh. [laughter] You raise a good point there. [laughter] [music break]

 

Juanita Tolliver: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman, and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.