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Left, Right & Center


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

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


Santa Monica, CA





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




1900 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405 310-450-5183


Pause & Review

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...


Carrots over sticks

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...


Infrastructure Week, maybe for real this time

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...


Biden meets the press

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...


Tragedy in Georgia

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...


Joe Biden’s BFD

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...


Not now, but soon?

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...


A third vaccine

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...


​Left, Right & Center & Independent

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...


On trial

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...


Closer to $2 trillion

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...


More vaccines, more executive orders and... GameStop

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...


President Biden calls for unity. Will he get it?

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...


Impeached again

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...


The pro-Trump mob at the Capitol

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...


Uh, deal or no deal?

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...


Looking under the hood

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...


Caught with their masks down

In a dark week for new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, a few high-profile politicians — mostly Democrats — have gotten a lot of attention for disobeying their own pandemic orders and restrictions. Of course, Republican leaders have been far from compliant (up to and including the White House), but is it especially egregious for Democratic leaders caught with their masks down? Are some Republicans unfairly getting a free pass because they have largely ignored the virus in the...


Politics of culture

2020 has been a difficult year. Keli Goff hosts this special episode of Left, Right & Center about how art gets us through tough times, and how it can move us politically too. You’ll hear from four creators and thinkers on the persuasive power of the arts and what pieces they’ve turned to for inspiration and comfort. You might walk away with a new favorite song or play. Stan Zimmerman wrote one of 2020’s favorite TV series: “The Golden Girls.” In April, Hulu viewers watched nearly 11...


Still waiting

One week later, not much has changed. President Trump has not conceded to Joe Biden and continues to fight the election result and national Republicans are largely not acknowledging Joe Biden as the president-elect. As this wears on, is there real damage to American democracy and citizens’ faith in elections? What is the president’s end game? And what about the end game for the Republican party? Keli Goff hosts this episode of Left, Right & Center with Tim Carney, Christine Emba and it...