The Issue Is: Rep. Katie Porter, Brian Tyler Cohen, Michael Knowles, Sec. Denis Mcdonough, Rep. Mark Takano

Another week of "The Issue Is," another week of a political line-up you won’t see anywhere else on TV.

First, following a devastating oil spill off the coast of Orange County, Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) joins Elex Michaelson to discuss the on-going investigation into the leak’s cause, holding the responsible parties accountable, as well as the latest from inside the contentious budget battle on Capitol Hill.

Then, a one-of-a-kind debate between Progressive podcaster Brian Tyler Cohen and Conservative host Michael Knowles - the two taking on vaccine mandates and President Biden’s "Build Back Better" agenda.

Finally, Michaelson hits the streets of West Los Angeles with Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA) and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough to address the worsening issue of homeless veterans.



PORTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The cause has not yet been determined, but we will be conducting a thorough investigation - the federal investigators are already on site doing that, collecting information, beginning to investigate. And that part of it will take time, but we will absolutely hold the responsible party accountable. At the meantime, the focus is really on making sure that we're cleaning up the spill as quickly and as safely as we can. This spill has put our wildlife at risk, our health at risk, it's bad for our economy, obviously, and so there's a lot of focus right now on doing the response. At the same time, I want everyone to be assured that there is going to be accountability for why this happened…"



PORTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The House stands ready to pass both the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act, which we have put through markup, we've had hearings, we've done the work, we've written the legislation. The holdup right now is two senators and the President is working tirelessly to get those senators to the point of agreement….We are trying to get Senators Manchin and Sinema to put on the table what they are willing to vote for, and if they're not willing to meet the needs of our economy or of the American people, they need to say so... If they don't want to take action on climate, they need to say so. If they're not willing to raise the corporate tax rate so that everybody pays their fair share - we don't have large corporations paying zero in taxes - they need to say that. They're simply hiding behind this kind of big number rather than going through what programs are they willing to support, what initiatives and priorities do they have, and what do they want to allow to continue to be a problem and not address?…"



KNOWLES: On this specific vaccine for this specific virus, I don't think there's any real argument for [a vaccine mandate] scientifically, legally or politically... Scientifically, the reason for a vaccine mandate would be to protect the public health. Vaccines can do two things. They can protect you, the person who gets it, and they can protect other people from you. But this vaccine, while it might mitigate your risk of hospitalization and death, does not protect you, or prevent you rather, from contracting the virus or spreading it - even the CDC admits this, it was in their report at the end of July....The question is, one, does the government have the right to institute these kinds of mandates - and I think the legal grounding is pretty shaky. But two, is there a public health benefit to getting that vaccine?…"

COHEN: Yeah, I'm not sure if we're living in the same country because we've lost 700,000 Americans so far and the vaccine protects people in 99% of those cases. You know, you are 11 times more likely to die if you're not vaccinated, and the states with higher vaccination rates have less cases, less hospitalizations and less deaths. Beyond that, you can also consider the fact that the more people who get this virus, the more opportunity it has to mutate - so by willfully allowing it to spread by virtue of not enacting vaccine mandates, we're risking rendering the vaccines that we do have useless and then being right back at the place we started in the very beginning…"



COHEN: "I believe that we should expand Medicaid to cover vision, hearing, and dental, so that the people who need it most can get it. I support offering paid sick leave like every other industrialized nation in the world. I support addressing climate change, even as storms and wildfires destroy our infrastructure. I think we should modernize the electricity grid. I think we should allow for child and elder care to free up caretakers to go participate in the economy so they can get jobs and stimulate the economy. Not only does all of this make sense, it should be the bare minimum for the most prosperous country in the world, just like it is for every other major industrialized country in the world…"

KNOWLES: "This is a bill that is going to cost $3.5T on paper, but it's actually going to cost a lot more than that. Let's look at what this law does, that is perhaps not so nice and not so popular. You've got a doubling of the size of the IRS and a lot of money being spent to do that. Furthermore, you're giving the IRS, in this law, the ability to look into your bank account if you have more than $600 in that bank account. Then there's this issue of the debt, I mean, let's not forget the numbers here, it's not the be all and end all, but we have a $28T debt in this country right now, within ten years, the debt-to-GDP ratio is going to be well over 100%. This is a drag on the economy, and it also raises serious political questions, what kind of a country is it that leaves, as an inheritance to the next generation, lots and lots of debt?…"


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to