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Left, Right & Center

Author: KCRW

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Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.
112 Episodes
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Where are all the jobs?

Where are all the jobs?

2021-05-0854:044

The April jobs report number was disappointing. We expected a million new jobs and only got 260,000. There are a few factors that could be slowing job growth: a very specific reason why manufacturing jobs are down, enhanced unemployment benefits, disrupted child care and school schedule, and the pandemic and the pace of vaccination. Then: it’s possible that Rep. Liz Cheney will no longer be in House Republican leadership. She’s been outspoken about her disapproval of Donald Trump and her anger about his lies about the 2020 election that inspired a violent mob to storm the U.S. Capitol in January. She may be replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, who got an emphatic endorsement from former President Trump this week. Is that infighting a proxy fight over Trump’s role in the party? Finally: the panel discusses a ruling from the Facebook Supreme Court, which is a real thing that exists, about Trump’s future on Facebook and Instagram.
President Biden made his first address to a joint session of Congress. It didn’t get big TV ratings, but the content reflected big changes to what he’d have the government do, with trillions of dollars in new spending on infrastructure and social programs. So is Joe Biden a quiet radical? Or is he just showing that a left agenda was never that intensely controversial if you did it quietly? And how did Republican Senator Tim Scott do in his response to Biden’s address? His speech drew a lot of praise and a lot of criticism. Josh Barro, Rachel Bovard, Gustavo Arellano and Keli Goff talk through the speeches, what Biden said about his agenda, and where Republicans might oppose it. Plus: three stories about whether the government will tell you what to do in your own personal consumption behavior. Should there be a federal ban on menthol cigarettes? What about marijuana? And what’s the beef with beef?
Accountability

Accountability

2021-04-2455:223

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts for the death of George Floyd last summer. The prosecution’s case against him was strong and the jury deliberated for less than two days before reaching their unanimous verdicts. So why did this result feel like a surprise to so many Americans? Josh Barro talks with panelists Tim Carney, Gustavo Arellano and Keli Goff about the verdicts, bipartisan negotiations over reforming law enforcement, and what Americans might agree on about it. Then: the panel discussed President Biden’s double flip flop on refugee admissions and how the crisis at the southern border is interfering with his broader immigration agenda, and the effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom in California. Voters dissatisfied with his handling of the pandemic could remove him from office, but so far, polls suggest they’re not inclined to do so. Will further lifting of covid restrictions in California — and the likelihood that a circus of characters will be on the ballot with him — keep Newsom in Sacramento?
Pause & Review

Pause & Review

2021-04-1751:33

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on pause, out of an abundance of caution, federal officials say. Out of more than 7 million J&J doses administered so far, there have been six incidents of a rare and serious kind of blood clot. The idea for the pause is to figure out whether anything needs to change about the use of this particular vaccine, but are there unintended consequences? Josh Barro and panelists Jamelle Bouie and Lanhee Chen discuss that, plus President Biden’s effort to raise corporate taxes and alternative proposals from Republicans, and new sanctions against Russia over the SolarWinds hack. Andrea Kendall-Taylor, formerly the senior intelligence officer who led the U.S. intelligence community’s strategic analysis on Russia from 2015-18, talks about the design of this sanctions package and what it shows about the Biden administration’s strategy for advancing American interests through diplomacy. Finally, there has been outrage this week over two fatal shootings by police of two young men, Daunte Wright in Minnesota and Adam Toledo in Chicago, that should have been avoided. The panel discusses accountability for police officers and what can be done to reduce the use of deadly force by police in this country.
Carrots over sticks

Carrots over sticks

2021-04-1052:412

Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan has stretched the definition of infrastructure. One component is over $200 billion for housing. Home prices are rising around the country and affordability is a bigger issue than ever, but will incentivizing local governments to make zoning less restrictive and build more housing actually get more Americans into the homes they want? Then: Josh Barro and panelists Jamelle Bouie and Lanhee Chen discuss how governors have handled the pandemic and how they’ve fared politically. For all the national criticism Florida and its governor, Ron DeSantis, has gotten, Florida’s been an average performer at fighting the spread of Covid-19. Did Governor DeSantis get a bad rap? And how did Governor Cuomo in New York get so overrated? Can all of this be explained by our hyper-partisan times? Georgia’s new voting law might be explained by that too — the panel analyzes critiques of this law and its projected effects on future elections.
It’s finally Infrastructure Week! Maybe for real this time? Josh Barro and panelists Christine Emba and Lanhee Chen discuss President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure package that includes funding for more traditional infrastructure, like transportation, water and utilities and more. But there’s also something Biden’s calling “infrastructure at home”: affordable housing, school upgrades, broadband and more. Is this a Democrat’s wishlist, or are there aspects of this bill that can gain Republican support? Is it really an infrastructure bill or a big spending bill? Is it the right political strategy to put all of these priorities in one proposal? President Biden wants to increase the corporate tax rate to pay for this major 8-year spending project, taking aim at the centerpiece of President Trump’s 2017 tax package. The panel agrees that might be a broadly popular move that could be challenging for Republicans to oppose.
Biden meets the press

Biden meets the press

2021-03-2651:025

Joe Biden gave the first press conference of his presidency this week. He took a bit of a victory lap, saying we’ll actually get 200 million shots in his first hundred days and noting that about half of schools are fully open and over 100 million Americans have gotten their $1400 payments. Okay, so what’s next? What about the non-covid agenda items for the Biden administration, which may actually prove more politically challenging. Biden did not seem bullish on gun legislation. He noted we’re sending away the vast majority of migrants who show up at the US-Mexico border, but with a policy change, apprehensions of unaccompanied minors are poised to set a record. Biden also didn’t want to get into specifics on his response to China after a frosty summit in Anchorage. Kaiser Kuo will tell us what to expect going forward in that relationship.
Tragedy in Georgia

Tragedy in Georgia

2021-03-2001:00:212

Congress is debating how to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. House Democrats passed their version this week, but Republicans in the Senate have concerns about guns and other issues. As the nation reacts to a horrific attack aimed at Asian American women in Atlanta, what is the prospect for federal action? Josh Barro speaks with Christine Emba and Megan McArdle about objections to the bill — are Democrats arguing against a more progressive position on policing? Are Republicans just objecting to restrictions on guns? Alec MacGillis of ProPublica joins the panel to discuss his reporting on the toll of the pandemic on children and teens, including academic losses, social isolation, mental health and suicide. Then, the panel discusses Alec’s new book Fulfillment: Winning And Losing In One-Click America that examines economic inequality and disparities in the United States through the lens of Amazon. The company has intensified the trend of ‘winning’ cities with unaffordable housing and ‘losing’ cities with a rusted-out economic base. How much of that is Amazon’s fault, and would a union for Amazon workers ameliorate it? If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Joe Biden’s BFD

Joe Biden’s BFD

2021-03-1358:421

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act is now law, and to quote then-Vice President Biden, it’s a “big f***ing deal.” President Biden signed it Thursday and addresssed the national about the return to normal. He announced he’s directing states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1. What’s actually in this giant law? Where will all that money go? There’s a big extension of unemployment that will help workers get through the summer. Direct payments will be distributed to Americans starting as soon as this weekend. There’s also a lot of spending that seems maybe only tangentially related to the pandemic. The panel talks with Samuel Hammond of the Niskanen Center about the big new payments to American parents that some may be surprised start getting as soon as July. The payments will significantly reduce child poverty, but for now, the payments are in effect for one year. President Biden would like to make it permanent. Should he?
Not now, but soon?

Not now, but soon?

2021-03-0658:37

Texas is done with Covid, but is Covid done with Texas? Some states are rushing to lift restrictions while others are being more deliberate, saying they’ll do so in late March or April. Is this return to normal coming too soon or not soon enough? Meanwhile, lawmakers are making changes to the Covid relief package. Some upper-middle earners won’t get relief checks, but that’s less than a one-percent cut from the $1.9 trillion package. Is the money going to the right places? And is it too much in an economy that’s already propelled by the return of social activity? Finally, this week featured controversies about Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potatohead, and whether it’s okay to call people “neanderthals.” Is the uptick in silly news stories a sign that nature is healing?
A third vaccine

A third vaccine

2021-02-2754:152

We’re getting a third covid vaccine. Johnson & Johnson is set to deliver 20 million doses by the end of March, and this vaccine only requires one dose per person. Vaccine rollout in the US is accelerating and is faster than most other rich countries. Are we doing a good job with this? When can we go back to normal, and has Anthony Fauci become a bit of a wet blanket? Plus: Donald Trump’s planning to continue steering the Republican Party, a setback for a Democratic minimum wage increase proposal and Renuka Rayasam talks with the panel about what happened in Texas: why the state’s electrical system was so vulnerable to cold weather and political fallout from the disaster.
Former President Trump has been acquitted in his second impeachment trial and now we are officially out of the Trump era… for now. Congress can now turn its attention to passing another round of covid relief and Democrats are prepared to do this with no Republican votes, if necessary. Independent Senator Angus King of Maine joins the panel for an update on those negotiations, why a bipartisan deal isn’t in the cards and how Democrats are deciding how much money to spend and on what. Then economics and housing reporter Conor Dougherty talks with the panel about the housing crisis in Califorrnia and nationally, and how the pandemic has changed it for the better and for the worse.
On trial

On trial

2021-02-1254:453

Former President Trump is on trial in the senate. Democrats showed dramatic video presentations with previously unseen footage of the Capitol riot showing how close some lawmakers came to danger. Trump’s lawyers say the trial is unconstitutional — and besides, the riot was not his fault — and they appear to be taking most Republican senators along with them. Meanwhile, the White House has been mostly ignoring the impeachment trial and making plans to go bigger on deficit spending with better economic projections convincing them they have more room to borrow and spend on relief and infrastructure. Anya Kamenetz joins the panel to talk about schools reopening, as the Biden administration seeks to balance the interests of parents and teachers. A hacker recently tried to put dangerous levelss of lye in a Florida wter systeem. It didn’t work this time, but how much should we worry in the aftermath of the massive Solarwinds hack that affected untold numbers of government agencies? Nicole Perlroth talks about cybersecurity and major risks facing the United States and what we should be afraid of.
Closer to $2 trillion

Closer to $2 trillion

2021-02-0555:312

Democrats are much closer to passing the nearly $2 trillion relief package President Joe Biden has proposed. A Republican pitch for a much smaller package doesn’t look to be going anywhere. The White House says doing too little is way riskier than doing too much, but economist Larry Summers is worried the package is too big and will endanger efforts to spend later on infrastructure. Who is right? Josh Barro talks with Megan McArdle and David Dayen about that, Senator Romney’s proposal for a child benefits package, and special guest Helen Andrews makes the conservative anti-Boomer case.
One week later, the Biden administration is getting more aggressive with vaccine distribution. More doses will be sent to states and they will use the Defense Production Act to speed up manufacturing. On top of that, there is promising data on two new Covid vaccines. How big a shift is this from the Trump administration and is the Biden team moving fast enough? The panel discusses executive action from President Biden on health care and immigration. Immigration wasn’t one of the four top priorities President Biden designated for the start of his turn, but as he was taking office, Biden surprised with a major comprehensive plan for immigration reform. Is that possible, or is it fated to be broken up into pieces that result in some reform? Priscilla Alvarez talks with the panel about President Biden’s immigration strategy in his executive orders and this proposed plan: how much of it has a chance of becoming policy? How much will be tied up in the courts? Lanhee Chen says using executive action is an important demonstrative and a political marker, but the substance is limited, and the legislation is the way to make lasting change. Finally, we’re talking about GameStop. Why are populists on the Right and Left sticking up for retail investors who sent GameStop stock soaring? Won’t this end in tears and pain? The panel closes with a triple Rant dunk on California.
America has a new president. Joe Biden called for unity in his inaugural address, but he enters office with the country facing huge challenges and with the slimmest of majorities in Congress, making it harder for him to move the agenda he wants. Can he get unity in Congress to support his agenda, or will the fate of the filibuster make or break his agenda? How much could it slow down priorities, and should Democrats just get rid of it now? Lanhee Chen says there’s a good reason for Republicans to fight for the filibuster: it’s an important and meaningful way for the party to have an impact and build messaging into the 2022 midterms. David Dayen says Democrats might need to see a big, important piece of policy — like Biden’s proposed coronavirus relief package — fail because of the filibuster in order for Democrats to support getting rid of it. On that coronavirus relief bill, moderates aren’t thrilled about everything in it. The panel discusses whether a slimmed down approach (checks and vaccine money) could be enough. And is the Biden administration really at square one, with no vaccine rollout plan they can work with? Finally: in President Biden, the United States has an internationalist leader again, and the world is watching. Do we just carry on as things were before President Trump and America First, or will there be persistent changes to our foreign relations, either because of damage that is difficult to undo or because President Trump rightly pointed out necessary departures? And as there is more bipartisan agreement about countering China, what will the Biden administration’s strategy be?
Impeached again

Impeached again

2021-01-1650:567

President Trump is the first president to be impeached twice. What does it mean to hold him accountable? And what should be done about the Republicans who voted to throw out the results of the election? Some Republicans are saying impeachment is divisive and the country needs to move on, but what about the lies the party has tolerated and fomented about the election for months and months. Weren’t those divisive too? Josh Barro talks with panelists K. Sabeel Rahman and Lanhee Chen and special guest Zeynep Tufekci about the role social media played in spreading conspiracy theories that led to the riot. Do recent actions by Amazon and Facebook and Twitter reduce the risk of future unrest? And should we worry about the role these large private firms play in shaping the rules of our discourse? President-elect Biden is preparing to take office as his predecessor’s impeachment trial begins. He wants another $1.9 billion relief package — and bipartisan support for it. Can he get that?
On Wednesday, supporters of President Trump ransacked the Capitol after he urged them to march there. The mob entered the Capitol as Congress was working to certify Joe Biden’s election win. Five people are dead. Tensions are very high in Congress. Members of the Trump administration are resigning. Will the president be impeached again, just as his term is up? With less than two weeks until the inauguration, is that timeline even possible? Josh Barro talks with panelists K. Sabeel Rahman and Lanhee Chen and special guest Anna Palmer about whether impeachment is appropriate or even possible, and what accountability would look like for this crisis. In a week of crises — President Trump encouraging the mob at the Capitol, his call to the Georgia secretary of state insisting he won the state and asking to “find” enough votes to support that falsehood — weirdly, there are positive signs this week for the functioning of the Biden administration. Democrats won both Georgia Senate races, giving Democrats control of both houses of Congress by the narrowest of margins. That means Republicans won’t be able to block Biden’s nominees from coming to the floor, and with the Republican delegation on the hill split over President Trump, does that create more opportunities for bipartisanship in the Biden policy agenda?
Uh, deal or no deal?

Uh, deal or no deal?

2020-12-1959:171

Joe Biden announced his picks to lead transportation, climate, energy and environmental policy this week and it’s making progressives pretty happy. But what will they be able to get done in a closely divided Congress? Josh Barro talks with panelists K. Sabeel Rahman and Lanhee Chen about the choices and the hope for a big bipartisan infrastructure initiative. Do Republicans want to make good on that? Will Mitch McConnell be open to bringing legislation to the floor for a vote, regardless of the outcomes in the two Georgia senate runoffs? And how good is the COVID relief package that’s getting closer to the finish line this week? Plus: the panel discusses initial details about the SolarWinds hack and cybersecurity concerns, and Julia Marcus of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Institute joins the panel to talk about pandemic shaming, which isn’t stopping people from gathering at the holidays and might be undermining virus containment.
Looking under the hood

Looking under the hood

2020-12-1151:272

Joe Biden’s cabinet is taking shape. The names are predictable, but the positions they’re attached to is raising some eyebrows on the Right and Left. Josh Barro discusses the Biden economic team and Janet Yellen as his choice for Treasury Secretary, and his choice of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services with new panelists Lanhee Chen and K. Sabeel Rahman. Sabeel Rahman says that even if the cabinet head choices are a little confusing, you have to look under the hood to the No. 2’s, the assistant and deputy secretaries to get a better picture of the administration’s priorities and policy direction. Why have congressional negotiations over more coronavirus relief stalled yet again? One major challenge is that lawmakers are seeing different crises within the bigger crisis. Some see a V-shaped recovery with household balance sheets faring pretty well, and that is leading some representatives to advocate for a smaller package. Others see a K-shaped recovery that has devastated certain industries and sectors of the population, which might point to the need for even more aid. Aid to state and local governments is another sticking point in the negotiations, right as they have a major logistical task in front of them: distributing the coronavirus vaccine. Juliette Kayyem joins the panel to talk about those logistics and a challenging split-screen reality ahead. For the next few months, there will be a lot of optimism and good news about the vaccine and a return-to-normal, while thousands of Americans continue to die of COVID-19 everyday.
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Comments (117)

Hector Soler

bullshiet this propaganda for criminals in the war department. there in this bullshiet podcast right hard right and insane right if you to listen to this shiet and thing this is left you don't know what left is

May 9th
Reply

Hector Soler

fuck you all you people should a shame

Apr 26th
Reply

Liz Evans

Megan McArdle is terrible. She makes me want to unsubscribe from this podcast. She's disingenuous and arrogant on the topic of guns in domestic violence crimes.

Mar 21st
Reply (2)

Alan

I like how people on the left call you racist and then say you're the one trying to divide the country.

Nov 3rd
Reply

Brian

Extreme Left, Left, F--k Trump. I am critical of Trump, but he has done a few things right..

Oct 28th
Reply

Alan

So left right and center should actually be called center left.

Oct 18th
Reply

Mike Brennan

I like the idea of Brendan Michael Dougherty. He is a smart, articulate and thoughtful conservative, and I have lots of sympathy for conservative thought. But he has trouble keeping up with Josh, particularly when Josh is politely confrontational: nb bmd response to jb assigning moral responsibility to Trump for his covid-19 infection. Very squirmy , passive voiced agreement to the inescapable truth that Trump gambled on his own immunity to covid-19, and lost the wager. please find someone equally smart and conservative, but faster on his feet: perhaps one of the Bulwark crowd

Oct 3rd
Reply

Casey man

That was the most horrifying episode of LRC I have ever heard.

Sep 12th
Reply

Ryan Pena

lolol Josh tried to brag now that Biden is up so much against Trump but his analysis is the exact wrong one. it's not that Biden is getting people enthused to vote for him. it's that Trump is such an utter catastrophe that people want to vote out Trump. love that he tries to brag about "being right" and yet his analysis couldn't be more wrong

Jun 28th
Reply

Nick Theodore

Why don't you guys get someone who is pro-trump on the right to give everyone both sides prospectives. I love the premise of this podcast, though.

Jun 21st
Reply

Ryan Pena

steele is such a better representative of the right. Lowry was just full of talking points while steele actually gives nuanced opinions about the topics. hope he stays on long term

Jun 14th
Reply

Jimmy Jurassic

The Band-Aid analogy was so spot on, I broke out into laughter. Congrats Em.

Jun 13th
Reply (1)

Sirk Roh

I've been listening to this podcast since the beginning, but I can't listen to Lowry anymore. Another 'conservative' who has turned into another self-righteous Trump sycophant. I had to stop listening to the previous podcast. Steele was very refreshing. I'll try to keep an open mind, but it's work to continue to listen.

Jun 13th
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Mike Brennan

self-proclaimed all black panel, discussing elements of discrimination in the press, in the national institutions and in the RNC. Absolutely riveting. I love Josh and all his works, but this group needs to be reconvened and institutionalized as a podcast.

Jun 8th
Reply

Jimmy Jurassic

As a Brown Independent, I have to say, Michael Steele is the most brutally honest political nerd I have heard to date. I could listen to him for days.

Jun 6th
Reply

Jimmy Jurassic

"That black guy who the cop killed." "Which one?" "The one they strangled." "Which one?

Jun 2nd
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John Shirts

I'm an independent who leans conservative. I've enjoyed this podcast immensely for the rich debates. I measure the credibility of each participant based on how readily they are able to see conflicting perspectives in each issue. I found that Liz and Rich were both good at finding points worth criticizing in own their sides. however this episode demonstrates that the podcast has decidedly moved left and camped out there. Literally all of the participants pushed a perspective of the left, including Josh as the ostensible center and the guest, who perpetually tried to strengthen his argument by making references to other left leaning world views. Only Rich ever criticized his own side. I find this lack of balance in the conversation disheartening. The addition of Christine does not help. She is a confirmed partisan who has demonstrated no willingness to see the cracks in her own side. Please bring back some credibility to your central value proposition by showing respect to all sides. This should not be a gang up session on the right. And the last several episodes have proved that just that.

May 30th
Reply (1)

Ryan Pena

lolol listening to Rich try and explain what obamagate is was sooo painful. I love that Christine just laughed at him. it's so ridiculous. I'd say the FBI and the Obama administration had cause since he was a literal foreign agent for another country Turkey which is also illegal. Trump and Republicans freaking out about this is doing nothing more but trying 2 distract president's failures with the coronavirus response

May 21st
Reply (1)

Dustin Meyers

listening to Rich Lowry is just painful. Has he been paying attention at all? If John Kerry had a different view of Iran and was incoming NS Advisor AND Iran had tried to intervene in our election AND had lied to the FBI when asked about his contacts with Iran, THAT would be the same thing.

May 16th
Reply (2)

Francesca King

Exactly, we need to make those who lie to Congress face some strict consequences. The reason most people don't trust government because there seems to be two different types of laws when these breaches happen.

May 4th
Reply
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