Matt Mackowiak's Mack On Politics

Smart political talk every week from Austin, Texas political consultant Matt Mackowiak, who has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators and the Bush administration.
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Matt Mackowiak's Mack On Politics






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Now displaying: 2017
Dec 27, 2017

Our final guest for 2017 is Brian Riedl, a policy expert on tax and budget issues.

He is a senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute, and served as chief economist for U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, as well as working as a fellow at the Heritage Foundation for a decade.We get narrow and deep into the newly-signed tax law, first with his overall assessment, then by discussing the corporate provisions (rate cut, repatriation, expensing and pass throughs), then the individual provisions (rate cuts, standard deduction, child tax credit, estate tax and carried interest).

We discussed when we can evaluate whether the law is working, what unfair myths were used against the bill, and finally, what the 2018 legislative agenda on Capitol Hill will be and should be.


Dec 22, 2017

Our guest for our 60th episode is former Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), who served as NRCC chairman and as Oversight Committee chairman. He is Director of Federal Affairs for Deloitte and chairs the Board at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

We looked back at 2017 and evaluated how the Republican Congress and President Trump did, with special focus on tax reform and health care. Then we turned to what is possible legislatively in 2018, including a discussion about entitlement reform.

Finally, we dug deep into the midterms, as to whether a Democratic wave is building, how are the parties preparing and how will the Russia inquiry hangs over it.

Dec 15, 2017

We check in with longtime Reagan aide, Russo, Marsh & Associates president and Tea Party Express co-founder Sal Russo for the 59th episode.

We discussed his career, comparisons between Reagan and Trump, his assessment of how the Trump presidency is going so far, how he thinks Congress is doing, his assessment of the recent U.S. Senate special election in Alabama, how the midterms are shaping up with one year to go, and to what extent Trump should be worried about the Russia inquiry.

Dec 5, 2017

Our guest for episode 58: U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).

We talk about several important subjects in the news: North Korea, Iran, whether he supports the President’s decision to recognize West Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel, how he thinks the Trump White House national security team is doing, and where tax reform stands. We also discussed his office’s recent “Federal Fumbles, Vol. 3” report about government waste.

Nov 30, 2017

For this episode of the podcast, we specifically delve into immigration with Mario H. Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund.

High stakes negotiations are currently underway surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Trump recently end with a deadline of March 5, 2018.

We explore where those negotiations currently stand, whether a deal must be struck by year’s end, how family members of the DACA recipients are involved in this issue, how DACA protection affects an ability to work, travel and go to school, and what a bipartisan deal might look like.

Then we discussed the current state of border security and whether a border wall is needed. Finally, we explored how the Latino community views the GOP in the age of Trump.

Nov 20, 2017

Our guest for the 56th episode is Doug Schoen - one of the most respected Democratic political consultants and pollsters for the past thirty years.

We discuss the political standing of President Trump and both parties, evaluate the midterms at the midway point, discuss the recent elections in Virginia, consider what political risks exist for Democrats, review President Trump’s first year in office, analyze the 2016 presidential election result, and briefly discuss the future of polling.

Nov 17, 2017

We delve into the news of the day with Phil Kerpen, a syndicated columnist and the President of conservative nonprofit American Commitment.

First, we examine what happened in the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and where he thinks it goes from here.

Then we turned to a discussion of tax reform, whether he thinks it will happen this year, why the repeal of the individual mandate is not just good policy but also politically important, and where the debate on health care goes next year. We wrapped up with a discussion of the end-of-year spending fight and how he would grade the Trump presidency so far from a conservative standpoint.

Nov 8, 2017

The most recognizable voice in popular culture, Ben Stein, fills our airwaves for our 54th episode.

You may know him from films and TV, but he has spent his career teaching at Pepperdine University, writing for The Wall Street Journal as an editorial board member and serving as a Speechwriter for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

He is a New York Times bestselling author, and his latest book is “The Capitalist Code: It Can Save Your Life and Make You Very Rich”.

We talked to him about tax reform, fiscal policy and the Federal Reserve, why the stock market is at record levels, whether dynamic scoring works, and how President Trump is doing. His answers may surprise you.

Nov 1, 2017

Robert Mueller biographer and WIRED Magazine contributing editor Garrett Graff is our return guest for a discussion about the latest developments in the Russia inquiry.

We read the tea leaves on where this inquiry is headed, what the George Papadopoulos plea deal means, whether he likely committed an underlying crime, what the Manafort and Gates indictment tells us, and consider questions about trial timelines and potential pardons. Then we dive into his knowledge of Mueller’s career, reputation, the team he has built for this investigation, whether he may be pursuing Tony Podesta, and what Mueller is really like.

Oct 27, 2017

Our guest for episode 52 is Chris Hayes, anchor of “All in with Chris Hayes”, which airs weeknights on MSNBC, and the author of “A Colony in a Nation,” a New York Times bestseller.

We begin by discussing the book, which covers race issues from our founding through current day, be exploring with why he wrote it, what he was trying to accomplish, how we can bridge the racial divide in America and whether a class-based affirmative action system would be better than a race-based system.

Then we turned to whether we are currently living in a period of political realignment in both parties, where he believes the Russia inquiry stands, how he develops his nightly cable news show and what he wants it to be, what he’s learned as anchor, and what one question he’d like to ask President Trump.

Oct 19, 2017

Former NYPD Intelligence Division and CIA analyst and nationally syndicated radio host Buck Sexton is our guest for the 51st episode.

We discuss the battle for Kirkuk, why the future of the Kurds matters for the U.S., how Iran factors into all of this, where the fight against ISIS stands, and how the Syrian Civil War is going.

Oct 17, 2017

Josh Green is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency”.

So we explored Steve Bannon for our 50th episode.

We discussed how and when Green and Bannon first met, how Bannon got involved in politics, how he joined the Trump campaign, how his chapter in the White House unraveled, how the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape chapter informed his view of the urgent necessity of loyalty, how the Mercer family has been central to Bannon’s success, and how this book may be coming to a movie or television screen near you.

Oct 2, 2017

Bill Browder has an incredible story – he was at one time the largest investor in Russia before he was expelled after exposing corruption in the country. His lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian jail after being tortured and denied medical care.

Browder chose to dedicate his life to seeking justice for Magnitsky, and he’s done exactly that for nearly a decade.

His story offers greater depth and context to how the Russia government operates, what they appear to have sought from the Trump campaign in 2016 and why it matters.

Sep 27, 2017

Tax reform is the focus of this episode and our guest is CNBC senior contributor Larry Kudlow, who was an economic advisor to the Trump campaign and has been an unofficial White House advisor on economic matters.

We analyze the tax reform plan, both on the corporate side and the individual side, consider how Trump’s election has affected the stock market, discuss Kudlow’s 20+ year relationship with Trump, consider how Wall Street views Washington, and discuss several openings on the Federal Reserve. 

We ended with Kudlow’s political outlook for tax reform passing before the end of the year.

Sep 22, 2017

We grabbed a few minutes with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) to discuss his role in developing the Graham-Cassidy health care reform bill that the U.S. Senate is considering.

We begin with comparing this bill to the model Santorum used to successfully reform welfare in the 1990s.

Then, we checked on where he thinks things stand, how engaged the White House and Senate GOP Leadership has been, what the Senate floor process will be, what the legislative prospects are in the House, what unresolved issues remain in the bill, and what he thinks is the worst mischaracterization about the bill is.

Finally, we inquired about how his precious daughter Bella is doing.

Sep 22, 2017

We take a deep dive into the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare replacement bill with Lanhee Chen, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and former Policy Directory for the Romney-Ryan presidential campaign.

We begin by discussion why Lanhee supports the bill, how states would handle receiving block grants to create their own health care systems, how repealing the individual and employer mandates would affect the system, how the bill treats those with preexisting conditions, how the Essential Health Benefits provisions are treated, why increasing contribution limits for HSAs is important, whether states can create single-payer systems, whether a full CBO score is necessary, and then how health care will change in a scenario where it passes and how Obamacare is working if the replacement bill fails.

We end with a discussion of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for all single payer proposal and I ask Lanhee to predict whether the Graham-Cassidy bill will pass.

Sep 11, 2017

We take the pulse of the conservative movement with former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who now serves as President of the Senate Conservatives Fund.

I wanted to begin by discussing President Trump’s decision to phase out DACA over six months, with his view on what kind of deal he wants before the deadline comes in March.

Then we discussed the short-term agreement on the debt ceiling and government spending that President Trump cut with Democratic leaders.

We then talked about the 2018 cycle and his work at the Senate Conservatives Fund, including next year’s 2018 U.S. Senate race in Virginia. He also sized up this year’s Virginia Governor’s race as Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s term comes to an end.

Finally, we consider the state of the conservative movement in the Age of Trump.

Sep 10, 2017

Texas is in the middle of everything and so we wanted to talk to Evan Smith, CEO of The Texas Tribune for this episode.

We began with a discussion about Hurricane Harvey, first about the challenges it presents to a news organization, and then about the different ways the recovery is taking shape to get people back on their feet.

We then turned to discuss three national issues that affect Texas directly: DACA, the border wall, and NAFTA.

Finally, we explored why his nonprofit journalism venture, which is about to celebrate its 8th anniversary, has been successful and consider what it could tell us about the future of journalism.

Sep 2, 2017

A “500-year flood” hit Texas this week and that is the subject of this episode.

We begin with a monologue from your host about heroism in Houston.

We continue with three interviews, each about a different angle to this story.

First, we talked to State Rep. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi, who has represented the coastal bend region of Texas off and on since 1989. I began by asking him how he’s feeling, what the most pressing challenges are for his area of the state, how the state and federal response has been, what kind of heroic response he has witnessed, and finally about what is needed now.

Then, we turn to the non-profit angle with Alberto “Beto” Cardenas, who is a Board Member and Secretary of the Houston Food Bank. We started by discussing the mission of the Food Bank, the scale of its operations, and then discussed what they are doing to serve thousands of people each day, what their needs are, and how people can help. Finally, we discussed the spirit of Houston.

We end this episode with a discussion about how the energy industry has been affected with Texas Railroad Commission chairman Christi Craddick, whose regulatory agency oversees the energy industry in Texas. She updates us on where things stand with gasoline supply and refineries, gives us her assessment of how the industry has handled this crisis, and then discuss what, if anything, she’s worried about.

Aug 26, 2017

Our guest for the 42nd episode is Jon Ward, a journalist of 15 years who currently writes for Yahoo News. He previously reported for The Huffington Post and was a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. Mr. Ward is currently writing a book about the 1980 primary between sitting U.S. President Jimmy Carter and then-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), which will be released next year.

We began by looking at the upcoming border wall funding battle and assess the potential for a government shutdown. Then we examined whether a realignment in American politics is underway.

We then turned to a discussion of that 1980 Democratic presidential primary – how it came about, how it played out, why it mattered then and why it matters today. We continued by discussing his writing process and reviewed what he’s learned about writing his first book.

Finally, we talked about what it’s like covering the White House, how the media is doing today, and look ahead to the future of journalism.

Aug 15, 2017

Tax reform crusader Grover Norquist is our guest for the 41st episode.

Since 1985, he has been running Americans for Tax Reform, the leading conservative organization in the country on tax reform and limiting spending.

With Congress set to begin a major debate on tax cuts, we checked in with Norquist on where the effort currently stands, whether the (temporary?) failure to reform health care makes tax reform easier or harder, whether there is a parallel between the Reagan tax cuts and this year’s version, why annual economic growth matters, how federal spending fits into this debate, what he wants to see happen on health care, and why his organization’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge has been so influential for so many years.

Aug 11, 2017

We explore the North Korean threat from all angles with 36-year military veteran Gen. Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army, Ret.) on our 40th episode.

In this discussion, we consider how concerned Guam should be, what the current state of the North Korean nuclear program is, why North Korea would give up their nuclear weapons, what would change China’s strategic calculation, how worried South Korea should be, what the current level of U.S. military readiness is, what can the U.S. offer China to persuade them to do more, what Secretary Mattis might be thinking and what would lead the U.S. to take pre-emptive military action.

Aug 7, 2017

Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is our guest for the 39th episode.

We begin by discussing with him the case of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Pakistani citizen who was working for her who was arrested trying to leave the country two weeks ago. What is really happening with this story and where is it headed? DeSantis has asked DOJ to investigate.

Then we turn to a discussion of North Korea, Iran, health care, and immigration, with Rep. DeSantis, whose committee work touches all of those areas.

We wrap up with his view on what he hopes Congress can accomplishment for the rest of 2017.

Aug 5, 2017

Michael Reagan is our guest for the 38th episode. He is the son of former President Ronald Reagan, and the President of the Reagan Legacy Foundation, and an author, commentator and motivational speaker.

We talked to him about parallels between Reagan Democrats and Trump Democrats, about the importance of traveling the country for Reagan’s success, about how Reagan worked successfully with Democrats, including on tax reform, about why performance is an important part of politics, and about what lessons Trump can learn from Reagan’s way of dealing with Russia.

Finally, we discussed two policy areas of personal importance to Michael Reagan: sex trafficking and adoption.

Jul 28, 2017

Our guest is Mollie Hemingway, Senior Editor for and Fox News contributor.

We review an insane week in national politics, with the health care meltdown, the hope for tax reform, and dysfunction inside the White House. We wrap up with what she sees as the best case scenario for the rest of 2017 for Team Trump.

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