Mar 17, 2023 - Podcasts

A GOP rift over Ukraine

U.S. aid to Ukraine is becoming a lightning rod issue among Republicans who are positioning themselves for 2024. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made waves this week when he came out against U.S. support in Ukraine.

  • Plus, a lifeline for First Republic Bank.
  • And, cutting down on the cost of streaming.

Guests: Axios' Margaret Talev, Javier E. David and Rahul Mukherjee.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Alexandra Botti, Naomi Shavin, Fonda Mwangi and Ben O'Brien. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected] You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Friday, March 17th.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re following today: a lifeline for First Republic Bank. Plus, cutting down on the cost of streaming. But first, a GOP rift over Ukraine. That’s our One Big Thing.

A GOP rift over Ukraine

NIALA: U.S. aid to Ukraine is becoming a lightning rod issue among Republicans who are positioning themselves as 2024 contenders.

Axios’ Senior Contributor Margaret Talev has new polling on how Republican voters feel about the war in Ukraine and joins us now for our Friday state of play.

Hey Margaret, welcome back!

MARGARET TALEV: Hey, Niala. Thank you.

NIALA: So this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came out against U.S. support of Ukraine in the war against Russia, calling it a territorial dispute. What was the response from Republican party leadership?

MARGARET: I mean, wow it became a lightning rod issue, right? You are, uh, seeing a big pushback from fellow Florida Republican Marco Rubio, Senator Marco Rubio. Remember, Donald Trump until this moment has been kind of the head of the “why are we so involved in Ukraine” caucus. And Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who's been beating on this drum for quite a while.

So what our new survey found, and this is the Axios partnership with Ipsos, we call it the Two Americas Index, is that only 42% of Republicans who were surveyed now say that they support sending us weapons and money to Ukraine, and that's like half of the share of support from Democrats and even Independents, about 60% of Independents support continuing to support Ukraine. Republicans are just in a completely different place than the rest of America.

So most of the American public at this moment says the U.S. should stand with Ukraine. We all expect Ron DeSantis to enter the presidential contest. If he or if Donald Trump were to emerge as the nominee, and if Republicans were to win the next presidential election with a candidate who espoused these views, it would be a complete upending of U.S. foreign policy. And that is getting a lot of attention in Washington, including among many Republican political leaders.

NIALA: That polling also showed, though, that Republicans say they want the U.S. to retain its world power leadership, but can you explain how that doesn't extend to the war in Ukraine?

MARGARET: To be honest, no, I can't and that's the problem. This is a major conflict within the party. It's literally an issue that is tearing the party apart. And so what we see in the survey is, you're right, 79% of Republicans, 75% of Democrats say that the U.S. should continue to be the global leader. A huge majority of Republicans, almost nine out of 10, also oppose the U.S. reducing military and national security spending. And yet they don't want it to be spent to help Ukraine defend itself, against Russian attack.

NIALA: Margaret, there's some more interesting data from this two America's poll about what Americans think are the most important issues, both nationally as well as at home, and then also how that relates to what the news media is covering. Can you share that?

MARGARET: Americans were asked the question three ways. What are the top issues affecting the nation? What do you see as the top issues affecting your local community? And what are the top issues getting news coverage? And you see some different answers.

You know, like for example, if you ask, um, about national issues, you may hear “immigration” or “climate change,” or, you know, “race,” “political polarization,” issues like that rise to the surface. But when you ask what are the key issues affecting you locally, you're much more likely to hear “education” and you're much more likely to hear “opioid addiction and drug problems.”

And then if you ask about some of the major issues, in the media, they're also different than those local issues. Our pollster, Chris Jackson at Ipsos said, this is really worth watching because what voters are feeling in their everyday lives has a real potential to be sleeper issues and could really move the needle when they go to the polls.

It also suggests that there is kind of an American consensus that what political leaders in Washington are talking about the most — there's a disparity between those issues and the issues, um, that are actually impacting them most in their everyday lives.

NIALA: Margaret Talev is a senior contributor for Axios. Thanks, Margaret.

MARGARET: Thanks Niala.

NIALA: After the break, how to understand banking, the markets and this week after the SVB collapse.


A lifeline for First Republic Bank

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo.

First Republic Bank is getting a $30 billion lifeline from some of the country's biggest banks, including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, quelling some investor fears of a banking crisis. Axios’ Javier David is here to check in.

Javier, what do we need to know about this First Republic rescue?

JAVIER DAVID: So the main thing that we need to know is the events over the last week or so have really undermined confidence in the banking system itself and what regulators are trying to do in rescuing First Republic is reassure depositors, that their money is safe where it is. They do not want people sort of running to the bank, yanking out all their money, stashing it under the mattresses or however you wanted to call it. But, they want people to believe that their money is safe where it is, and that the U.S. financial or banking system is in fact sound.

NIALA: By and large, have we seen bank runs? Are people doing that?

JAVIER: The short answer is no. Nothing in the real time data that we've seen would suggest that people are running in large numbers. And I, and I have to stress this, large numbers to pull money out of the system. So what we're seeing in financial markets is really a lot of speculation, a lot of panic. The markets this week have been incredibly volatile. We've seen a lot of days with significant point drops. But on Thursday, we finally saw a little bit of relief, a real sizable relief rally. Primarily because this move to rescue First Republic was in fact successful. It gave the market sort of what we call a sentiment boost. That in turn sort of calmed the fears of Wall Street, driving up stock prices and driving down bond yields.

NIALA: Nevertheless, policy makers have been forced to intervene in order to assist at least four different financial institutions over the last week. So what does that say about our current financial state and banking system?

JAVIER: The events of the last week have been extraordinary in a number of ways. The fact that it all sort of converged at once, at a time when we're very uncertain about the direction of interest rates, which more than likely, are gonna go up. We're very nervous about the idea of a recession being around the corner. The last thing investors needed to hear was a bunch of banks being in trouble. And I think out of the several institutions that we saw fall in the trouble over the last week, the biggest one with the most largest import, I think is Silicon Valley Bank, because that particular case was a very direct exponent of interest rate risk. And I think that that's what got everybody nervous.

They really want the Federal Reserve to pump its brakes. The Federal Reserve is saying quite the opposite. They're not done. They're not gonna be done for a while. And if one bank can go topple over because of interest rates, how many other banks out there can do the same?

NIALA: For the average American that's listening to this, how should they think about this past week?

JAVIER: Even if a bank goes under, they can be made whole through the financial system, either because their deposits are secured or another bank might buy out another bank. At this point it doesn't really seem as if the banking system in and of itself is in trouble. But that doesn't mean that the suspicion or the fear can trump reality. And that's where we are right now.

NIALA: Javier David is Axios’ managing editor for business and markets. Thanks, Javier.

JAVIER: Thanks for having me.

Cutting down on the cost of streaming

NIALA: Let's just take a moment to celebrate that one of my streaming joys – The Apple Original series “Ted Lasso” – is back this week for its third season…and no doubt many people have been re-upping their Apple TV plus subscriptions to watch it.

Keeping up with your favorite shows now often means paying for at least a handful of different streaming platforms, which is ironic since the early promise of streaming was to help consumers cut the cord from pricey cable bundles.

But users are getting wise: one survey of viewer behavior found that half of GenZ respondents and 45% of millennials plan to cancel their subscription after watching a specific show.

RAHUL MUKHERJEE: If I want to watch “Stranger Things” on Netflix, do I actually need it for 12 months or can I just keep it for, you know, a month or two out of the year?

NIALA: That’s Axios Visual journalist Rahul Mukherjee who is part of a team here that’s devised a really neat tool to help consumers navigate this and save money.

RAHUL: So users will input TV shows that they watch, and it’ll show them which months they need to subscribe to each service in order to watch a show.

NIALA: You can check out the Streaming Optimizer through the link we will put in our show notes.

NIALA: That’s it for this week. Axios Today is produced by Fonda Mwangi, Naomi Shavin and Lydia McMullen-Laird. Our sound engineers are Alex Sugiura and Ben O’Brien. Alexandra Botti is our supervising producer.

Axios’ editor in chief is Sara Kehaulani Goo – and Executive Editor is Aja Whitaker-Moore. Special thanks to Axios co-founder Mike Allen.

I’m Niala Boodhoo. Stay safe, enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

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