The politics of a booming energy industry
Jan 26, 2024
Episode 1085

The politics of a booming energy industry

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Plus, we'll talk vibenomics.

Today, the Biden administration is pausing decisions on building new liquefied natural gas export plants. But energy production in the United States is roaring, which poses a political conundrum for both parties. We’ll explain why. Plus, the latest on the back and forth over a bipartisan border deal and why the House isn’t playing ball. Later, we’ll play a round of Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We love to hear from you. Send your questions and comments to makemesmart@marketplace.org or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

Make Me Smart January 26, 2024 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kimberly Adams 

Entering the show with enthusiasm I see.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, my goodness. Yes. Yes, it’s me for the first time on a Friday since New Year’s. I know I’m sorry. I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense. It is Friday today, the 26th of January.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes, and I am Kimberly Adams. Thank you for joining us on the podcast or if you’re joining us live on the YouTube live stream, live on the live stream I suppose that was redundant but here we are. It is Friday. And that means it is time for our weekly happy hour episode, Economics on Tap.

Kai Ryssdal 

We are going to do what we do on a Friday. Some news. We’ll take a break. We’ll do a little Half Full/Half Empty. And we will peruse the chats for what people are drinking as I was telling Kimberly, before we turn the microphones on. I got a soccer game later I had some Gatorade. It’s about all I got. Kimberly, what do you got?

Kimberly Adams 

I made myself a little mocktail. It’s just pomegranate juice, sparkling water and some non-alcoholic bitters. You know, I’m doing like half of a dry January. So, like two weeks, dry back end of the month.

Kai Ryssdal 

Do bitters have alcohol in them?

Kimberly Adams 

They do. They do, indeed. Really? Yeah, like really strong alcohol. But that’s why droplets. Yes, bitters are booze.

Kai Ryssdal 

I had no idea.

Kimberly Adams 

And therefore, there are non-alcoholic bitters.

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s so interesting. All right. I’m perusing the live stream chat here. Davis Dancing, what color Gatorade am I drinking? I only drink green lemonade Gatorade and only room temperature please. Gatorade should not be any other color and should not be any other temperature. I don’t make the rules, that’s just laid out.

Kimberly Adams 

But do you drink it like from the jug? Or do you get a powder and like mix it?

Kai Ryssdal 

I get a powder and mix it because it’s just more cost and space effective truly.

Kimberly Adams 

I see. I see. Okay, let’s see. Over in discord, Michael’s drinking San Pellegrino which is the same sparkling water that I’ve got for my little mocktail. Let’s see what else, what else what else do we have? What is everybody else drinking is? Distilled Paper Plane. Is that a cocktail?

Kai Ryssdal 

I don’t know. Expat Mike. Where are you Mike, remind me having your morning tea. Japan, right? I think you’re over in Asia somewhere. I don’t know. I think so. I don’t know.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh, okay. So, the Paper Plane now we know. Thank you, Phil, for explaining. Bourbon, Nonino, Aperol and lemon juice. Okay. Meanwhile, Christopher King has Sake off his kitchen shelf. Diana’s drinking Mezcal. Expat Mike is indeed in Japan. And Bill Sandwick is drinking Spanking Roger gin and tonic, first time trying it. I hope it is not the devil for you. Oh, Andy adds some useful information. Andy says, “in bitters, some flavors dissolve in water and some in alcohol. Alcohol also serves as a preservative.” Yes.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, that makes some sense. That makes some sense.

Kimberly Adams 

Okay. Yeah, let’s do some news. You go.

Kai Ryssdal 

Okay, go ahead. I’ll go alright, I’ll go first. It is related to a story you did today for the show about the LNG facilities pause that the Biden administration announced this morning, as part of the setup of which I pointed out that we are the biggest liquefied natural gas exporter in the world. We’re also the biggest oil producing country in the world right now. And that got me to a Catherine Rampell piece, which I find super interesting for the politics of it and how it plays on either side. So, Catherine’s point in this column is that it’s really inconvenient for Democrats and President Biden to point out how well the United States is doing in energy production, right, this idea that we are now held hostage to foreign oil is simply not true. Right? That’s really inconvenient for Biden and the Democrats, and it’s inconvenient for the Republicans, because they don’t want to point out something that would be to the benefit of them, but it would get Independents and Democratic voters angry at them. So, I think it’s a real. Energy is a really interesting political conundrum right now, as are so many freaking things in this country. Catherine Rampell’s got a column. She’s much smarter and well-spoken than I am, and you should read it.

Kimberly Adams 

You know, that story was interesting, because the Biden administration made this big fanfare about this announcement this morning. And I started calling around to LNG experts, and they’re just like, yeah, it’s not that big of a deal. And I was like, oh is that so? And I was like, well, why not? And they’re like, it’s an announcement of a review of a policy that doesn’t affect any deals until maybe five years from now. And even then, it may not matter that much. And so, they were basically telling me that it’s the Biden administration, kind of pandering to the young people in the base who are very upset about Gaza and climate and other things and saying, well, at least I’m doing this, you know. But it can potentially make a difference in the long term, but definitely not before Election Day. So, it’s a talking point.

Kai Ryssdal 

All right, what do you got?

Kimberly Adams 

On the topic of election, I know we try not to get into the day-to-day of all the Trump drama, because rarely do we have much to add, but I could not ignore the verdict in the E. Jean Carroll case today. $83.3 million in damages for defamation is what came down today from that jury. And I’m sure that it’s going to be appealed. But on top of the Rudy Giuliani defamation damages, it made me think of all of these, you know, trials of mob bosses back in the day, where they never really got anybody for the crimes that they were accused of doing that they were the worst, they would get them on taxes. And so, you know, there are all of these, you know, accusations is probably not the right word. But there are many things of great concern that Trump and Giuliani and others did as it pertains to the democracy and what’s getting them in real trouble and is actually sticking is the defamation. Now granted, there are criminal charges pending and other trials in progress. But what is sticking so far is the damage isn’t defamation, although I’ll be very interested to see how they how and if they get the money since Donald Trump is pretty notorious for not paying his bills.

 

Kai Ryssdal 

Right. Right. And this will be appealed to high heaven. I did think somewhere on cable news this afternoon after the verdict came down. Somebody said the only one who’s been able to hold Donald Trump to account is not the independent counsel. It’s not the DA down in Georgia. It’s not anybody else. It’s an 80-year-old woman in Manhattan.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh, not to mention Stormy Daniels.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh yeah, that’s true. But also, she lost a good deal against him, right, because she actually wound up having to pay him 300 something $1,000, right. So yeah, yeah.

Kimberly Adams 

Fair. But yes, good point. Um, the other story that is much more pertinent is what’s going on with Congress and a potential border deal. Because, you know, in between the potential government shutdowns, the one that we avoided, and the one that may be coming up in, you know, a couple of weeks or whatever. They’re trying to squeeze through a border deal. They being the Senate, specifically the Senate, because in the Senate, there is bipartisan agreement, to an extent on a deal that they think could actually address some of the real issues happening at the southern border. And the House Republicans are basically just like, nah man, we’re not even. So today, House Speaker Mike Johnson sent a letter to colleagues and said, basically, this is a quote, not basically this is a quote, as reported by Politico that got hold of the letter. “‘I wanted to provide a brief update regarding the supplemental and the border, since the Senate appears unable to reach any agreement. If the rumors about the contents of the draft proposal are true, it would have been dead on arrival in the House anyway.’ Johnson didn’t explicitly rule taking up a Senate bill as the bipartisan group of negotiators hop to unveil text next week. But following Senate drama this week that shook confidence in negotiations, he repeated a point he’s made frequently in recent weeks: if House Republicans don’t feel like it goes far enough to crack down on the border, it won’t go anywhere in the chamber.” So, it’s a tough road in the Senate for sure. Even though there are bipartisan negotiators, seems like they’re supportive leadership to get something done to help, you know, carry through Ukraine funding and potentially Israel funding, the house does not seem to want to play ball. And it seems very clear that this is tied to not wanting to give Biden a potential win on the border in an election year.

Kai Ryssdal 

I think it’s more than seems clear, I think it is clear. Crystal clear. Yeah. All right. We clearly have to take a break and when we come back Half Full/Half Empty is what we’re going to do. Be right back.

Kimberly Adams 

Okay, it is now time to play Half Full/Half Empty hosted by the one, the only Drew Jostad. Hey Drew.

Drew Jostad 

Hi Kimberly. Netflix has recently announced a deal that they are going to carry WWE Raw starting next January. Are you half full or half empty on watching live sports on streaming?

Kai Ryssdal 

I mean we’re going back to the cable model right because you’re going to have to buy Peacock as you did last weekend to watch or two weeks ago whenever it was to watch the Kansas City game. I mean, it’s kind of irritating to be honest with you, but for certain sports like I actually, I pay for Premier League on Peacock actually. So yeah, no, Peacock. Yeah, MLS is on Apple, which I don’t pay for. But anyway, it kind of bugs me, I’m kind of half empty.

Kimberly Adams 

I will say half empty for the same reason. I was entertained when Netflix announced this, they were very careful to talk about it being like sports entertainment rather than straight sports. My grandfather used to love watching wrestling, like some of my earliest memories are of him sort of like sitting in his chair in the basement smoking a pipe watching wrestling, which I 100% thought was real as a child. One of my cousins is actually like an semiprofessional wrestler. Really? Yes, yes. Got a stage name, does performances and everything. It’s pretty wild. Oh, my God. Yeah. Got an interesting family. All right, what’s next?

Drew Jostad 

Half full or half empty on the promise of sleep tech gadgets?

Kai Ryssdal 

That was a story on Marketplace Tech that that Lily did. Lily did from CES. And it was this mask that you put on that flashes light at you at like really quick speeds. And that like, helps you sleep or something. I’m a really good sleeper. So, I’m going to say whatever helps people sleep. I’m half full.

Kimberly Adams 

I’m going to say half empty. I do want people to sleep better. But it feels like we’re kind of like feeding into the, you know, mass consumption when there are better solutions and healthier solutions and probably less environmentally detrimental solutions. So, half empty on that. But I do want people to sleep, I’m sure. If there are no other options, fine.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yep, Drew?

Drew Jostad 

All right, are you half full or half empty on pawpaws as the most American fruit?

Kai Ryssdal 

So, we have to set this up and say that, like a year ago, Kimberly, give or take, right? Yes, you made some pawpaw cocktail cause you had like pawpaw syrup up or something, right?

Kimberly Adams 

No, I bought pawpaw liqueur.

Kai Ryssdal 

Okay. And I was like, what the hell is a pawpaw? And we had a chat about it. And it clearly slipped my mind because one of the producers on Marketplace pitch this interview about pawpaws as the most American of American fruit. It grows up in the Northeast. And now I am fully educated on pawpaws. I would love to try one. I’m never going to find one here in Southern California. But I’m half full for sure.

Kimberly Adams 

I have to like try to tie my next trip to LA to pawpaw season because as you know, because I deluge you with photos when I heard this story. There are several pawpaw patches behind my uncle’s house, and I go down there with him every year, you know, way down yonder to the pawpaw patch if you know the song, and harvest pawpaws. And the way that you harvest pawpaws is that you go to the tree and you shake it really hard, and they fall down. And that tells you that they’re ripe. And if you’re my uncle, you wait until I’m standing below the tree and then you shake the tree really hard, so that they fall on my head and then you laugh. But we went out there. I went out there with a couple of girlfriends this this year and we all harvested pawpaws and it was a lot of fun and they are delicious. So, I’ll try to tie my next trip to LA with pawpaws because that’s the only way they’re going to survive to get out there. Totally, totally, totally, Drew. All right, what’s next?

Drew Jostad 

Half full or half empty on this year’s rare double brood of cicadas?

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh my god, I read this in the New York Times and just about spit out my coffee. So, cicadas, you know, come together like every like 17 years or whatever the hell it is. They emerge from the ground and been doing it forever. But this year, there’s going to be some like super cycle of cicada things, and they’re going to come together like all through the Midwest and into the East Coast. And there’s going to be I want to say trillions, but it’s probably like high billions of these things. And they’re gross and disgusting and the pictures were foul and oh my god, no.

Kimberly Adams 

You’re lucky they’re not out there because apparently dogs love to eat them.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh god. oh god.

Kimberly Adams 

Half full. I’m glad that insects are still alive because it tells me the climate hasn’t totally collapsed yet. Take what wins I can get.

Kai Ryssdal 

All right, Drew what’s this one and then this one’s the poll, people.

Drew Jostad 

This is the poll. Yes.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah. So, for folks in the YouTube livestream, get ready, here we go.

Drew Jostad 

With consumer sentiment rising, are you half full that the vibecession is over?

Kai Ryssdal 

So, Kyla Scanlon who we’ve had on Marketplace a couple of times, she is a former finance person, now works as an online educator of finance and the economy. She does TikTok, she does all kinds of social, she writes for Bloomberg Opinion. Now she’s really sort of gotten a boost in her profile in the last like two years. Anyway, about a year ago, she said, listen, we’re having a vibecession, right? It’s this disconnect between what the numbers are saying, which were at that point, pretty good, although not as good as now. And how people are feeling, which back then was terrible. And the other day Kyla came out and said, you know, what, the vibecession’s over people are feeling pretty good. Now the data is pretty good. What we have now is a “vibe-pansion,” which I kind of love, which I kind of love.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah. I guess it really depends on, it depends on who you’re talking to, and what kind of life you’re living. And I think this is really one of those where the macro numbers don’t tell the micro story very well. Sometimes I think about, you know, the reason that we use median income in the United States to sort of get a sense of things rather than average income, because we have, like billionaires, so that just skew the numbers so wildly, that it doesn’t make any sense. And I wonder, you know, when it comes to stuff like this, are we getting a sense of the median in the data? Or are we getting a sense of the average? Does that make any sense?

Kai Ryssdal 

Yeah, that makes some sense. I don’t know the answer. I don’t have the answer. Yeah. All right. So it’s actually pretty overwhelming, so I say we close the poll right now.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, let’s close the poll. So, are you half full or half empty on the end of the vibecession?

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, me. Personally, I’m half full on the end of the vibecession. I completely grant your point that, first of all means, but also headline economic data, does not cover everybody for sure. But it is heartening and macro economically positive, that the general mood, general being the operative word there, is people feeling better.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, I’m, I’m going to say half empty, because I just don’t know that we’re accurately capturing the general mood, and I know where we’ve got the best data we have. We’ve got consumer sentiment numbers that have been historically what we can get. And I just wonder if it’s capturing what’s happening. But we’ll see. We’ll see because the ultimate measure of this is the upcoming election, right? And that will let us know how people really feel and it’ll be interesting.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yes, yes, it will. So, 143 people voted. 73% are half full on the end of the vibecession. Half empty was 26%. Thank you for participating in our poll, everybody.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes, thank you. We appreciate you.

Kai Ryssdal 

So, we are done on a Friday afternoon. Back on Monday. In the meanwhile, as always questions or comments, critiques or praise, they come to us in our voicemail 508-U-B-Smart. Email is makemesmart@marketplace.org.

Kimberly Adams 

Make Me Smart is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Oh, that sounds like a dog.

Kai Ryssdal 

That was Bonz shaking it out. Sorry about that.

Kimberly Adams 

Today’s episode was engineered by Charlton Thorp. Our intern is Thalia Menchaca.

Kai Ryssdal 

The team behind our Friday game is Emily Macune and Antoinette Brock. Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts. Francesca Levy is the Executive Director of Digital and On Demand.

Kimberly Adams 

People want to see Bonzai. Can you pick her up? Awe. Yeah, a little bit.

Kai Ryssdal 

All right. There you go. Where she is? Oh, there she is.

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