Augusta, Ga (WJBF)

Today’s headlines can be overwhelming. So much information is coming at you so fast. On this edition of The Means Report, we talk to Augusta University Political Scientist Dr. Mary-Kate Lizotte. Watch both segments and get Dr. Lizotte’s perspective on what’s happening in our world. Thank you for watching The Means Report Monday afternoons at 12:30 on NewsChannel 6.

Hello, everybody, and welcome once again to “The Means Report.” We appreciate you spending part of your day with us where today the focus is on, well, politics slash the headlines. We will talk politics and try to figure out what’s going on in our nation these days. We will look beyond the headlines to find out what today’s news really means. It’s sometimes confusing, and I’m so glad we have an expert on hand to explain these headlines on so many hot-button issues that we are seeing and what is really going on. And what’s the future hold for this country? What do things look like politically and otherwise as we go into the coming years? And we welcome back to “The Means Report” Augusta University Political Scientist, Dr. Mary-Kate Lizotte. I was telling Dr. Lizotte on the way in, I was telling you on the way in, Dr. Lizotte, how easy you make things to understand because sometimes it’s hard. You turn off the news and say, “What just happened,” right?

Yeah. Thanks for having me again. I hope that your viewers aren’t getting sick of me.

No. Well, I debated whether to have you on. I was like, “Has it been too soon?” You know, but no, you need to be on about every other week because that’s how the news cycle works. Things are constantly changing as we’re about to find out during the next half hour or so. Let’s start with things that have happened since we last saw each other. One was the Republicans winning the majority in the House. You told us that that was going to likely happen. It did. Does it mean anything legislation-wise? Will we see some laws passed that will impact us in the next couple years or so?

I think that the Republicans don’t have a very big majority, and so we’re not gonna see a lot of things happening. They are united on certain things like, you know, budgetary cuts, but even when it comes to important issues like the debt ceiling, I think we’re gonna see mostly Democrats and Republicans getting together instead of a majority Republican being able to do much of anything in the House.

When you talk about how slim the Republican majority is, should I take that to mean it’s not a guarantee that things are going to pass from a GOP perspective because not all of them, it’s not gonna be unanimous every time, right? Some will go over to the other side.

Right, so they only have about five people in the majority and so five people over the Democratic party and so that’s really not enough. You know, every party is heterogeneous, meaning, you know, some people just disagree on certain issues. They don’t agree with their party platform on everything. And so you’re going to see probably at least five, if not more, Republicans disagree with certain, you know, pieces of legislation. And so it’s gonna be difficult to, if they can’t get Democrats on board, to pass things.

All right, so we saw House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her position for what seems like a really long time. We have this brand-new speaker now, Kevin McCarthy, elected, as you know, by a slim margin and it took a jillion attempts to get him the Speaker’s post. Is he on thin ice? Does he have to watch his step or he’ll be voted out since it was so tight?

He’s definitely on thin ice, for sure. I think that he could definitely get voted out. I mean, he agreed to have those rules be very easy to get him voted out so I think that if he makes some missteps, it could be a real problem for him. But I don’t think that anyone else has a lot of support within that slim majority either so it would be a mistake, honestly, to probably oust him.

Let me ask you this. As of the taping of this broadcast, Kevin McCarthy and President Biden are set to meet. Is that just for show, Dr. Lizotte, when you see both sides get together like that? Or do you think anything happens when they’re in those meetings at the White House?

I mean, they definitely talk about-

I mean, they talk.

Right, for sure. And I think, you know, part of it is trying to build some goodwill and trying to, you know, understand how they’re gonna work together over the next two years, especially with an early meeting like this. But I’m not sure they’re gonna walk out with any sorts of agreements. I think ultimately what’s gonna happen is that the Senate is going to make a lot of the decisions with the debt ceiling and McCarthy’s just gonna be sort of forced to go along with it.

We see this debt ceiling issue come up from time to time. Should it scare or concern regular citizens like us in our day-to-day lives if the government can’t pay its bills?

So, I’m sort of of two minds. So, one thing is that, you know, as long as they pass it and we pay our bills, everything’s fine. It’s sort of this manufactured crisis.


But if we were to default, we would have a recession like the Great Depression or worse so it’s very, very important that we do not default on those loans. It would be a really big problem. So, if that looks like a possibility, then yes, Americans should be scared, but generally it’s never gonna happen.

Another thing that’s happened since we last spoke was Donald Trump said that he is going to run for a second term. Do you think he can, let’s not say win, do you think he can be the nominee? Because that feels cloudy right here in the early going.

Yeah, definitely. You know, he is very likely to be the nominee.


But he doesn’t have a ton of support so it really depends on who else runs and how strategic they are. I think a recent poll showed that about 30% of Republicans want Trump to be the nominee. That’s not a majority. I think DeSantis was doing better against Trump, but it really just depends on how those early primaries and caucuses go and, you know, things could change in a flash. So unless everyone gets behind a different candidate like DeSantis, which is very possible, he is the biggest threat right now. Trump will possibly, you know, become the nominee again, and that’s probably slightly more likely than DeSantis, but it’s gonna be one of the two of them.

I’m asking this question way too early, I know, but do you think, have you seen anything that makes you think that President Biden wouldn’t be the Democratic nominee? And so it will be a Trump-Biden rematch, or do you think that Biden’s presence in that campaign could change in the next year or so?

So, Biden is not going to not run. He’s definitely going to run.


So, the Democratic Party should have lost 40 seats in the House according to all political science forecasting models, everyone who studies this sort of thing. The fact that the Republican Party has a five-seat majority is like the biggest win for Biden.


I mean, he outkicked every single… It’s just amazing what he did from his perspective. And so there’s no way, after that sort of a win, he’s gonna step down.

Okay. All right, good. We’ll look for that in the coming months as well. Back to Georgia where you have this investigation into the 2020 election and President Trump’s alleged interference in it. The Fulton County District Attorney is running this thing. Is it significant if the Fulton County DA indicts Trump? He’s indicated, and I’m paraphrasing, that she doesn’t have the power to do that, and it would be meaningless. What are your thoughts on an indictment coming outta Georgia against Trump?

I think it’s very likely that it will happen.


And it will tie him up in, you know, legal court proceedings for a while. He’ll have to come to Georgia and deal with that. I don’t think, you know, the case is gonna go through before the election.


So I don’t think that it would prevent him from running or prevent him from winning. But if he was to get indicted and then found guilty, it would be a really big deal. He’s looking at, you know a few years in prison, very likely.

It’s tough to picture and I don’t want to sound ignorant because everything you’re saying is accurate, but it seems shocking to picture a former president going to prison. I mean, can we let our minds go there? Would that really happen in this day and age? Or would it get it get to a point where both sides kind of got together and said, “Okay, here’s what’s gonna happen. You’re not gonna run. You’re gonna also adhere to this, this, and this, but we won’t lock you up.” Could someone go to jail?

So basically, you know, whoever gets elected or, you know, if the case went really speedily, he can’t be pardoned by a president because of the type of case that it is within the state of Georgia. And so, you know, they wouldn’t have any say in whether or not he went to prison. You know, he’s had a lot of legal proceedings. He’s gone to court for a lot of different reasons, and he always is fine at the end of the day.


So it’s very possible that they would make some sort of deal with the prosecutor about not serving time or, you know, he might somehow be able to get out of the court proceedings through appeals processes and that sort of thing.

Okay, all right. Let’s look at the January 6th Committee. I know we talked about it last time, and we were sort of just speculating as to what might happen after the Committee adjourned and what the Department of Justice from that point may or may not do. Do you have any feel for what might happen with the January 6th Committee’s findings and what kind of impact that might have?

I think it’s going to be helpful for the Department of Justice to have that report. I think it’s helpful to potentially build some goodwill among the public in terms of the Department of Justice’s case and what they’re trying to build. You know, the report recommends that he be barred from running for president again, and I don’t think the Department of Justice is gonna move quick enough for that to matter when it comes to 2024, but it’s possible that all of a sudden things will change. But they seem to be moving very slowly.