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The polls are open in America | TICKER VIEWS

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The polls are open in America and in six Tuesdays from today, America will vote.  In several states across the country, early voting has begun in the most consequential midterm elections for Congress in 12 years.  

Midterm elections are a referendum on the president, and this year is no different.  Biden’s future is on the line no less than the control of Congress.

However, the current President is painting an optimistic future.

In 2010, President Barack Obama lost 63 Democrats in the House, giving Republicans control in that chamber, and six Senate seats but keeping Democratic control over the Senate.  

It was a big setback. That result meant that Obama’s ability to pass his legislative agenda came to a halt for the balance of his presidency.

President Obama, 2010 midterms.

For the next six years, there were no significant new legislative initiatives in health care and the environment or any other major domestic policy issues.

As of today, the outlook for the November 8 midterm elections for Congress looks like a replay for President Joe Biden.

Republican gains that will give them control of the House, and continued, but very narrow, Democratic control over the Senate. 

This would be a better-than-expected outcome for Biden and the Democrats than many thought just three months ago. 

At the end of June, Biden’s popularity was plummeting.

Petrol prices reached record highs; inflation had erupted and there was sticker shock on groceries; supply chains were a mess; there were no legislative victories.

U.S. gas prices reach an all time high.

Now to mention the nightmare of women losing their constitutional rights becoming all too real with the decision by the Trump Supreme Court to repeal the landmark Roe decision. 

Biden had slumped to the mid-30s in approval.  Republicans seemed in easy reach of matching the average historical benchmark of gaining 26 seats from the president’s party in these midterms – and taking the Senate too. 

But momentum shifted in August to the Democrats.  Women across the country are furious about what the Supreme Court did to their reproductive health rights – with the Republican Party all-in with the Court. 

Protests following the overturning of Roe V. Wade

Biden started getting big legislation through Congress, especially on health care costs, clean energy and climate change, and high-tech manufacturing for the future.

Donald Trump’s legal challenges mounted, from FBI raids to get back the classified documents he took from the White House to state officials in Georgia and New York moving against him. 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump

Biden regained some popular approval, and the Republicans were on the defensive – especially on abortion with their candidates for the Senate on the wrong side of the anger from women voters.

In the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton’s team kept reminding him, and the county, that “it’s the economy stupid.” Clinton won the White House in the wake of a painful recession on President George H.W. Bush’s watch. 

This economy is hurting Biden and the Democrats.  The gut punch last Friday of the Fed’s raising interest rates by 75 basis points – with mortgages now the highest in over a decade and no end in sight to further sharp interest rate rises – and the markets tanking as a result, has left the mood of many deeply anxious and uncertain about the future. 

Inflation is still too high and most Americans believe the country is already in a recession.

“People are seeing their wage increases eaten up by inflation.”

federal reserve chair jerome powell
Fed reserve chair jerome powell

This plays to the Republicans, who are already pounding the culture war buttons on high crime in the cities, “out-of-control” immigration on the southern border and putting more control from parents back into the classroom particularly on gender and racial issues.

The essence of Donald Trump as a major factor in American politics and what America’s experience with him means about the future of America’s democracy is crystallizing. 

As many as two thirds of American believe that their democracy is on the brink, and they are worried about it.  Together with an extremist Supreme Court that has repealed fundamental rights for women, this makes Trump-supported Republican candidates – especially in the Senate – vulnerable.

If the Republicans take the Senate thanks to the Trump-endorsed candidates winning in key states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire, that will be a big win for Trump as he moves to declare for the 2024 presidential campaign. 

The converse is also true:  If Democrats beat Trump candidates this year, then they are more likely to beat Trump and the Republicans again in 2024.

There are two possible shock outcomes:  a sweep of both chambers by either party.  A Republican Congress will move aggressively against Biden, his policies and his government.  Expect big investigations. 

Expect Biden to be impeached by the House Republicans. A Democratic Congress, especially if they gain one or two more Senators, would present a complete reversal of fortune, making it possible to enact crucial legislation on abortion rights and voting rights and cement a historical place for Joe Biden as a truly great president.

The stakes are huge.  We’ll know the final verdict in 8 weeks.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

World

AUKUS meetings wrap up as Australia eyes off nuclear submarines

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Australia's defence minister

The first AUKUS meetings wrap up in Washington as Australia eyes off nuclear submarines

The first round of AUKUS meetings have wrapped up, with U.S. Defence Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin praising the talks as an “historic endeavour”.

Following an agreement made in Washington, Australia will have nuclear-powered submarines at the “earliest possible date”.

Defence Secretary Austin joined Australia’s Richard Marles and the UK’s Ben Wallace at the Pentagon. The leaders discussed key challenges and opportunities confronting the world right now.

High on the agenda was the contentious Indo-Pacific region, in response to “ongoing Chinese aggression”.

The meeting comes as Australia looks to move away from its conventional Collins-class subs and invest in nuclear-powered vessels.

The U.S. reaffirming its commitment to ensure its pacific partner will acquire this capability at the earliest possible date.

Australia’s Deputy PM and Defence Minister Richard Marles says the submarines are “central” to advancing the military capabilities of the alliance.

“There is an enormous sense of shared mission and momentum across all three countries, in having Australia acquire a nuclear powered submarine,” Marles said.

“The significance of that step shouldn’t be lost on people. There’s only been one occasion where a country has shared that capability with another. That was the United States with the United Kingdom a long time ago.”

But while we’ve heard the meetings went well, leaders are remaining tight-lipped about the exact details and any deals that have been made.

AUKUS has set a target of March 2023 to figure out a plan for Australia to acquire the nuclear subs.

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Arrests made in Germany over a suspicious plan

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Well arrests have been made in Germany over suspicious activity to overthrow the nation’s government.

Twenty-five people have been arrested as part of the raids across the country.

The group reportedly includes far-right and ex-military figures.

It’s understood they were planning to storm the nation’s parliament and take over control.

Suspects include racists and conspiracy theorists, and Q-Anon believers.

Three thousand officers took part in the sting involving 150 operations in 11 of Germany’s 16 states.

Arrests were also made in Italy and Austria.

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Twist in trial over the crash of a Rio to Paris flight in 2009

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There’s been an unusual development in the trial of Airbus and Air France over the crash of a Rio to Paris flight in 2009

Ticker’s Europe Correspondent Ryan Thompson has more from Paris

After weeks in court, prosecutors have decided NOT to ask for a conviction of the two French companies – even as they acknowledge that’s not what victims families would want.  

French prosecutors said they were unable to prove the companies were guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Their guilt “appears to us to be impossible to prove. We know that this view will most likely be difficult to hear for the civil plaintiffs,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors initially dropped charges against the companies in 2019. This sparked anger in families of the victims.

A Paris appeals court overturned this decision in 2021 and ordered the trial to go ahead. 

“We have a prosecutor who is supposed to defend the people who in the end is defending the multinational Airbus,” Daniele Lamy, the head of victims’ association Entraide et Solidarite AF447, told reporters.

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