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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Apr 25, 2018

Andy Puzder was one of the most successful CEOs in the past few decades, leading CKE Enterprises which brought back national fast-food chains Hardees and Carl’s Jr.

He was then nominated to be Labor Secretary by President Trump before he withdrew after questions were raised from his past. 

Now he is the author of the new book, “The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Stop It”, which is a very timely read.

In this conversation, we first check in with his current assessment of the U.S. economy and the tax law and then discuss the regulatory rollback and trade. Finally, we discuss his personal relationship with President Trump and his unpleasant experience being nominated to serve in the Cabinet as his nomination was brought down by decades-old allegations.

Apr 19, 2018

We examine the political environment and the midterms in the 79th episode with our guest, Josh Kraushaar, politics editor for National Journal.

Our topics: The current state of play, how fundraising is going for both sides, what factors could help each party, whether GOP enthusiasm will catch up, why House GOP retirements are so high, whether Democratic primaries will threaten their chances, how the GOP may deploy Trump in the fall and whether vulnerable GOP incumbents will distance themselves from him.

Apr 10, 2018

Syria is the subject of the 78th episode.

Our guest is Danielle Pletka, Senior Vice President at the American Enterprise Institute.

As President Trump weighs his response to the most recent chemical weapons attack in Syria, we discuss whether Trump’s past military response has boxed him in, how this mess was created in the first place, what Iran and Russia are up to, how ISIS plays into this, what military options exist and what Assad’s future might be.

Apr 4, 2018

Our guest is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

He’s been in the news lately, with questions about a room he rented on Capitol Hill and the costs of his travel and security detail.

This was not why we initially wanted to speak to him, though we did ask him those questions. 

In this conversation, which was taped in The Washington Times newsroom with the video live-streamed online, my guest co-host Charlie Hurt and I discussed his mission at EPA, how it is working with President Trump, and what he believes he has accomplished in his first 16 months on the job. 

We then specifically talked about the “Waters of the U.S.” regulation, Superfund cleanup, fuel economy standards for automobiles, ethanol and the renewable fuel standard, and the decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.

Mar 26, 2018

The hottest nonfiction book in publishing right now is the newly released, “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends”) by New York Times bestselling author Peter Schweizer and he is our guest.

He is the author of several other bestsellers, including “Clinton Cash” and “Throw Them All Out”, which revealed insider trading by members of Congress.

His new book reveals how some of the most prominent names in national politics have earned tremendous wealth personally and for their friends and family, including the Bidens, the McConnells, the Obamas, the Kerrys and the Kushners.

In this conversation, we explore the goal of the book, whether this ties into recent revelations from the Panama Papers, whether any of what he found is illegal, how this problem can be fixed and whether it will, what effect his previous books have had, what his next project is, and how his nonprofit advances its mission.

Mar 22, 2018

Our subject for the 75th episode is Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

Our guest is Sasha Issenberg, who has followed the use of data and digital targeting in campaigns for many years, culminating in his groundbreaking book, “The Victory Lab”, which was published in 2013 and updated in 2016.

In this fascinating conversation, we delve into what Cambridge Analytica is, how the use of data and digital strategy have been converging since at least 2004, how addressable TV may be the next innovation, how these technologies may be used in the 2020 presidential campaign, whether corporate ad campaigns are more advanced than political ones, how the Obama, Clinton and Trump digital efforts were unique, to what extent truly fake news effected the 2016 campaign, and where this story is going for both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

Mar 15, 2018

Jonah Goldberg is our guest for episode 74. 

He’s a senior editor for The National Review, a syndicated columnist, a Fox News contributor and a New York Times best-selling author whose new book, “Suicide of the West,” is available for preorder and will be released on April 24. 

In this conversation we examine the Trump staff shakeup, how cable news is affecting his presidency, where the Mueller inquiry may be headed, how Trump’s first year went, what the PA-18 special election tells us, whether Trump can be reelected, and whether ideas matter anymore.

Mar 9, 2018

North Korea is the subject of the 73rd episode.

The stunning news that President Trump will meet with the North Korean leader before May to discuss denuclearization made international news.

Our guest is Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

We discuss the importance of the meeting, whether preconditions are necessary, whether South Korea would likely be included, how the maximum pressure campaign and the credible threat of military force contributed to this development, how sanctions relief and independent verification might work, and whether Kim Jong-Un may be stalling for time.

Then we turned our discussion toward his experiences dealing with the Trump White House, what the Congress should do for the rest of 2018, and how we views the midterm elections.

Mar 2, 2018

Phillip Stutts is our guest for the 72nd episode.

He’s a fascinating interview for two reasons.

First, he just wrote a best-selling book, “Fire Them All: The 7 Lies Digital Marketers Sell…”, which reveals much about how digital strategy works in politics and business.

Second, he has been battling a rare disease for several years. About a year ago he made a startling and deeply personal decision.

His story will inspire you.


Feb 21, 2018

Gun control is the subject of this episode, in light of the horrific recent school shooting in Parkland, FL.

Our guest is Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski, who covers these issues and is a licensed gun safety instructor.

We begin by assessing what happened in Parkland, to what extent law enforcement failed to prevent the shooting, whether school safety is a realistic solution, how concealed carry for teachers might work in conjunction with the Gun Free School Zone Act, whether there is real momentum for banning bump stocks, passing mental health reform and fixing the NICS background check system, how concealed carry reciprocity would function and whether bans on high capacity magazines or an age limit for gun purchases make sense. Finally, we discuss the power of the NRA.

Feb 20, 2018

With March Madness looming and a pivotal Supreme Court case ruling around the corner, on the 70th episode we talk exclusively about sports betting with ESPN Staff Writer David Purdum.

We began by discussing the upcoming Supreme Court ruling in Christie vs. NCAA and what the effect will be across the country.

We then talked about high volume wager events like the Super Bowl and March Madness.

We turned to Daily Fantasy Sports and how two successful companies found this market and whether the court case will matter for their customers.

We then delved into how betting lines are set and how professional bettors move lines with their action.

We next explored whether cheating concerns are warranted.

Finally, we discussed how he got this unusual beat at ESPN, and how and why ESPN started openly discussing sports betting on air.

Feb 15, 2018

White House reporter Olivier Knox, currently of Yahoo News and previously of the wire service AFP, is our guest for the 69th episode.

We dig into the Rob Porter story with the latest on where it stands, what his job was, and how the security clearance process works. We then looked at the White House’s crisis communications response, how Chief of Staff John Kelly is doing, and what it’s like covering this White House.

Finally, we talked about this year’s legislative agenda and discuss his journalism career.

Feb 8, 2018

The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross joins us for the 68th episode.

He has been a news-breaking machine on the recent revelations about rogue FBI agents and FISA abuse.

In this timely conversation, we begin with his view of the state of play, what the FBI agent text messages tell us, what the mysterious text about President Obama “wanting to know everything” could mean, what questions he has about the dossier at this point, whether Steele might have been used by Russian sources, what Sid Blumenthal’s involvement signifies, where he thinks the story is headed and what the hysteria on the left portends.

Feb 2, 2018

For the 67th episode, we turn to CBS News correspondent Bianna Golodryga, who is also a CNN contributor.

Fluent in Russian and a native of Moldova, we begin by discussing the newly released Nunes memo, whether the debate will turn to declassifying the FISA application, whether this qualifies as reasonable congressional oversight, whether it appears the ultimate goal is firing special counsel Robert Mueller, and what risk Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner may have. 

Then we talk about Trump’s business profile in New York, the state of the economy, the current media environment, as well as finishing with a bit about her upbringing.

Jan 26, 2018

For the 66th episode, we dig into questions about the FBI and political bias from two thoughtful, intelligent, and experienced perspectives.

First, we talked to U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), a former U.S. Attorney and a member of the House Judiciary Committee. He is part of a six-person Congressional task force looking at FBI activity over the past two years. We discussed the Nunes memo, the 50,000 deleted text messages sent between two FBI agents and the attempt to recover them, why the Hillary Clinton FBI investigation still matters, whether DOJ has been cooperative and whether the Nunes memo can and should be declassified.

Then, we were privileged to speak to Ron Hosko, a 30-year veteran of the FBI, who rose to become Assistant FBI Director before he retired in 2014. We delved into why the text message story matters, what questions he wants the FBI inspector general to answer, what his personal and professional views are of his former colleagues Robert Mueller and James Comey, how he evaluates the FBI’s Clinton investigation, what he makes of the Nunes memo and the FISA (or “unmasking”) process, and how all of this is affecting the reputation of the FBI.

Jan 19, 2018

We dig deep into Washington, DC with Liam Donovan, Principal at Bracewell and a former senior staffer at the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 65th episode.

We delve into the government shutdown, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deadline, whether President’s Trump’s desired ‘flexibility’ works in a legislative context, how he views the first year of the Trump presidency, what to look for in the upcoming State of the Union address and what 2018 holds both legislatively and politically.

Jan 11, 2018

In this conversation, we talk policy and politics with Brian McGuire, who served as Chief of Staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

We began with a conversation about his own career path, what it’s like to work for Sen. McConnell and what he thinks is a common, yet unfair criticism of him.

Then we turned to timely subjects: Steve Bannon’s sudden fall, whether the Michael Wolff book matters, and where Congressional negotiations are headed on a range of policy issues.

Jan 9, 2018

Our subject for the 63rd episode is the #MeToo movement.

Our guest is Olivia Messer, reporter for The Daily Beast.

She has done some groundbreaking reporting on sexual harassment and abuse, with a special focus on state legislatures.

We discuss where the #MeToo movement stands currently, how the Congressional Hush Fund is working, how pervasive this problem is at the national and state levels, why it is a watershed moment that women victims are now being believed, how due process plays into this, and where the movement goes from here.

Jan 3, 2018

This man has lived an interesting life.

A recent tragedy caused him to see things differently, and was the catalyst for his new book, “Politics Has Failed: America Will Not,” which will be published by the Sutherland Institute in May

He is a senior fellow at the King’s College in New York and editor-at-large for Ballotpedia, and many people know him as the founder of the national polling firm Rasmussen Reports, which he left in 2013.

In this conversation, we delve into the book, examine how polling has changed, evaluate Trump’s political standing, look ahead to the midterms and consider what Trump could do to strengthen his position for reelection.

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.

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