25 episodi

Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.

KCRW's Left, Right & Center KCRW

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Left, Right & Center is KCRW’s weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy and pop culture.

    What do we do now?

    What do we do now?

    The US economy shrank at a record pace in the second quarter, contracting nearly ten percent. In the real world, that means tens of millions of Americans lost jobs and so many businesses were closed. We knew it wasn’t going to be good, but what’s worse is the recovery we were seeing in the late spring appears to have stalled. On top of that Congress isn’t even close to a solution for the expiring enhanced unemployment benefits that so many Americans are relying on through this crisis. So we wait.

    On today’s show Josh Barro, Dorian Warren, Megan McArdle and special guest Shai Akabas of the Bipartisan Policy Center talk about the state of the next relief package — is it a stimulus or not? — and the big missing piece of coronavirus economic policy: actually beating the virus.

    Then: pro sports are back, sort of. Pablo Torre of ESPN talks about the strategies that are working and what’s definitely not working as leagues resume or begin their seasons in our new reality.

    • 52 min
    Brinkmanship in a pandemic

    Brinkmanship in a pandemic

    Those enhanced unemployment benefits that have kept many American households afloat through the pandemic? They’re about to run out, and Congress is just now getting around to doing something about it. In the first week of negotiation, Republicans and Democrats are still far apart on another coronavirus relief package. Congress has played a game of brinkmanship with government shutdowns, but during a pandemic with millions of Americans out of work, it’s a different situation. Christine Emba says Americans don’t have the patience for this game when it affects the livelihoods of so many. Megan McArdle says Congress must envision a post-pandemic economy as it considers the appropriate relief efforts now. What else is Congress fighting over in the next bill, and how do we contend with the fact that many Americans won’t get much relief until many weeks or months from now?

    In Portland, federal agents are throwing protesters into unmarked vehicles. Why? Is there any proper role for the federal government in responding to unrest in cities? Geoff Ingersoll joins the panel to discuss that and if this helps or hurts President Trump with voters.

    Also, what does New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have against Buffalo wings? He does know they were invented in his state, right?

    • 50 min
    American made

    American made

    The economic recovery appears to be stalling as the coronavirus epidemic intensifies across the south and southwest. How did we get here? What are the policy failures that allow uncontrolled spread to resume? Why is there such a big testing backlog? And where do we go from here? Dr. Kavita Patel joins the panel to discuss.

    Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has enjoyed higher public approval on his handling of the economy than on his overall job. Joe Biden released an economic plan last week that aims to dent the president’s advantage, in part by co-opting some of his themes about promoting manufacturing in the United States. He wants an expansive “buy American” program, big public spending on research and development to rely less on international supply chains, and a major public spending plan for the climate and environment. Does this mean that both Right and Left are ready to abandon neoliberal ideals of globalism? And is there a tradeoff between raising labor standards in the United States and raising labor standards in other countries? Biden’s climate action plan is a very progressive proposal — his moderate image might be helping him put forward very left proposals, but would that help him with actual policy making if he is president?

    Finally, Dorian Warren argues the time is right for a third Reconstruction, a deep structural transformation of institutions in the United States to remedy inequities.

    • 50 min
    Lagging behind

    Lagging behind

    The coronavirus pandemic crisis is stretching on and the United States is in dire straits. Infections are surging in the south and west and there's doubt about whether schools can open safely for the new school year.

    Megan McArdle says the lags of this disease are contributing to serious policy disasters and many states are falling victim to normalcy bias, where, if it doesn't look like chaos, it's harder to persuade people and public officials to take appropriate action to prevent the situation from deteriorating. Dorian Warren says it is ultimately shameful that the United States is failing at virus mitigation.

    Then, Helen Alvare joins the panel to talk about the Supreme Court's final decisions. Was this term a major disappointment for conservatives? Chief Justice John Roberts promised to call balls and strikes, but might he be working towards a more long-sighted goal?

    Finally: Mexico's president visited President Trump in Washington this week, and Jose Diaz Briseno of Reforma talks about the state of their relationship. Is it correct to call President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador a leftist? And is he, like many other world leaders, doing his best just to appease and not influence President Trump?

    • 50 min
    Will it change us?

    Will it change us?

    Halfway through an extremely eventful 2020, what is the outlook for persistent change?

    In this special midyear episode, Josh Barro speaks with Dorian Warren and Megan McArdle about whether this year’s events — in policing and racial justice, the economy, and public health — will make change in these areas more possible and more necessary.

    A lot of change is happening quickly. The government has spent trillions to support the economy, Americans’ lives are barely recognizable, and public opinion has moved faster than we’ve ever seen on issues related to race and policing. Will it change the country permanently? Positively? And what are we learning from these extraordinary months?

    Megan notes that many trends appear revolutionary in the short term but less so in the long term, citing how little changed after the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. She also says there are examples in our history of police reform and “defunding” actually backfiring, and reform may be more difficult in the midst of economic troubles.

    Dorian notes that we’ve already seen incredible change as a result of the multiple crises facing the country now. “Normal models we look for in politics don’t quite explain how much change we’ve seen so far...” and he says generational change and indicators in the culture should not be underestimated.

    • 54 min
    The Center is right again

    The Center is right again

    How’s this for a civilized yet provocative start to the show? This week, people finally started admitting Josh Barro has been right about Joe Biden. Though, for the record, a lot of people have been agreeing with him all along: voters. Now, many others are realizing maybe what America needs next in a president is a broadly acceptable leader with unifying messages that can make people feel good about the country again, and one who adopts broadly popular reform positions while resisting the pressure to be on the unpopular side of wedge issues.

    Well, on this show, we do a lot of disagreeing, and Megan McArdle and Christine Emba have some things to say about Josh’s victory lap. What everyone does agree on is that President Trump’s handling of national crises grew even more grim and it’s definitely not helping him in the polls. The sparsely attended Tulsa rally didn’t help either, nor do the spikes in covid-19 cases in the south and west. Progressives had a strong showing in Tuesday’s primaries, so what are the implications further down the ballot if Biden wins big in November?

    Plus: what should be done about China? Democrats and Republicans feel increasingly negative about our relationship with China. Why is it so hard to determine the exact foreign policy strategy? Ali Wyne from the Atlantic Council joins the panel to talk about the tough road ahead.

    • 59 min

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