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May 29, 2020
The death of George Floyd — who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for seven minutes in the process of arresting him — has reignited outrage over police treatment of black Americans. There have been protests in cities across the country in response to Floyd’s death and the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and in Minneapolis, a level of unrest led the governor to call in the National Guard. The panel discusses what’s driving the protests and what governments can do to gain the public’s trust that justice will be done when police abuse power. Also on the show: Joe Biden has a plan for that. That’s what Matt Yglesias says: that Biden is the most progressive Democratic nominee ever with a long list of plans for progressive policy change. But will progressives believe that? And will conservatives be able to convince anyone that Biden is a radical? The United States Postal Service, like many institutions, faces financial trouble due to the pandemic. What’s the social purpose of the post office? And what does that say about how Congress should help it out?
May 22, 2020
President Trump really doesn’t want to be photographed wearing a mask (even though he has a cool one with the Presidential Seal on it). But 72% of Americans say that they’re wearing masks all or most of the time when they’re out of the house. So why have masks become a political symbol? And will that interfere with efforts to contain the virus? Plus: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had a relative light touch when it came to lockdown orders and many critics warned of dire outcomes from that. Was Governor DeSantis right all along? Or has he just been lucky? Then: Frederick Hess, resident scholar and director of the Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, joins the panel to look at how the coronavirus is affecting education. Are students actually learning at home right now? Will schools be ready to open in the fall? And is there even enough money to pay for all the changes needed to make it work?
May 15, 2020
President Trump is very upset about Obamagate. It seems to have to do with his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn — who the president fired after he lied to Vice President Pence and the FBI, and who pleaded guilty to charges that the Department of Justice is now seeking to drop. Is this a really important political issue? Or is this just President Trump’s effort to talk about anything besides the pandemic? Plus: Will Joe Biden leave his basement? Or, does laying low draw the contrast with President Trump that works for his campaign? Does either candidate need to be worried about their campaign right now? Then: Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations joins the panel to grade the American and international response to the coronavirus pandemic. What happens when international institutions atrophy? This isn’t all President Trump’s fault: so far, the pandemic has highlighted changes to the international order that have put the US in a weaker position to lead through the crisis.
May 9, 2020
More than 20 million jobs were lost in April and it keeps getting worse. Millions of Americans continue to file for new unemployment benefits every week. Is there and end in sight? And what does a plan look like to keep Americans afloat through the rest of the crisis and ensure that business is there to employ them again? Former top Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling joins the panel to talk about economic dignity in a pandemic and after. Will there be significant policy changes to match this recognition of the importance of essential workers, so many of whom are low paid? Even Mitt Romney has a bill for federally funded hazard pay for essential workers in this crisis. But will America’s relationship to low-paid essential workers change permanently, or will our economy go back to its precarious normal? Plus: the Justice Department wants to drop the charge against Michael Flynn for lying to federal agents, a charge he already pleaded guilty to. Ken White joins the panel to talk about the justification for that, and what it means for other criminal defendants.
May 1, 2020
Joe Biden says it never happened. Biden spoke publicly for the first time in response to an accusation from former Senate staffer Tara Reade, who says Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. How should voters evaluate this allegation? And how does Democratic support for Biden square with Biden’s own expressed standard from the Brett Kavanaugh fight that “you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence” of these sorts of allegations is real. Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard Global Health Institute talks about states easing stay-at-home orders and trying to reopen the economy. We have to do it sooner than later, but do we have what it needs to make that reopening sustainable? Dr. Jha talks about the level of testing we need and if states are ready to trace the contacts of people who test positive for Covid-19. Plus: Justin Amash’s Libertarian bid for president, stay-at-home protests in Michigan, and how hard it can be to access unemployment insurance in certain states
April 24, 2020
Congress agreed this week to replenish money for the Paycheck Protection Program, which makes loans to certain kinds of businesses that are hurt by the pandemic and then forgives those loans if businesses keep their workers on payroll. But there are some problems. There wasn’t enough money, smaller businesses without really deep banking relationships have been left behind, and some bigger “small” businesses have gotten the money while mom-and-pop businesses haven’t gotten any. Even with new money, the PPP is likely to run out of money again, and the dispute at the center of the next bailout package will be assistance to state and local governments. Mitch McConnell says states should be able to file for bankruptcy. Does that make sense? Then Samuel Brannen gives us a check up on the US coronavirus response. Sam was part of a pandemic simulation just a few months ago — how is the real-life response tracking with that simulation? Unfortunately: he doesn’t have good news. The panel points to President Trump’s increasingly unhelpful and absurd coronavirus briefings. Is he intentionally weakening his presidency so he can’t be blamed for anything? Should the response to a crisis like this be centered in the federal government or the states? Or does it make more sense for states and localities to decide certain measures while the federal government concentrates on the bigger picture issues, like testing and sharing of resources? Sam says government and governments have never mattered more than our lifetime than right now.
April 18, 2020
Regardless of who has the ‘total authority,’ the Left, Right & Center panel agrees we need a lot more to actually reopen the country: more testing, more hospital capacity, and other things that will inspire confidence in the public. And isn’t all this reopening talk a little premature? No public official can reopen the economy if the public is afraid to leave their homes. (Though some Michiganders protested Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders this week.) Another announcement President Trump made this week is that he’s withdrawing funding for the World Health Organization, which has been widely criticized for its handling of the pandemic and being too solicitous of the concerns of the Chinese government. In defunding the WHO, will the US have more influence and leverage, or will the WHO just turn more toward China, strengthening China’s hand? Dan Drezner talks about the threat to defund the organization and what can be done to counter China’s influence in international organizations. Then: the program to support small business payrolls has already run out of money. Economist Jason Furman joins the panel to talk about how the operation to keep the American economy on ice is going.
April 10, 2020
Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his presidential campaign this week, making Joe Biden the official presumptive Democratic nominee. What is the legacy of his campaign? Does it signal a complete lack of interest in very left policies and a major win for conservatives in the US, or does it show gradual change? Wisconsin’s primary election went ahead this week as scheduled, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Is this a preview of future primaries and the general election in November? Should both Democrats and Republicans favor voting by mail? President Trump is being criticized for taking too much of the spotlight during daily coronavirus briefings at the expense of medical experts. Is it time for that to change? Is President Trump capable of changing that? Finally: one concerning theme of this pandemic is the political polarization of attitudes about it, but polling suggests that even though Democrats and Republicans might be saying opposite things, they’re pretty much behaving the same way: staying home, avoiding social contact, following guidelines. But this pandemic also feels like a crisis that could also be the nexus of other American crises: low trust in government, fake news and motivated reasoning. Cognitive scientist Hugo Mercier says people are relatively good at distinguishing good information from bad information, especially when their lives depend on it.
April 3, 2020
At least ten million Americans filed for unemployment in the last two weeks of March, and that’s not the end of it. Has the federal government done enough to support Americans financially through this crisis? Is there a missed opportunity for reform and bigger, longer term ideas in the response? And what will the government have to do more of as this crisis continues? Rich Lowry argues this real crisis puts previous crises in perspective, like impeachment and the Mueller investigation. Elizabeth Bruenig brings up the moral questions that underly a pandemic and our responses to it. Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News, has a new book called Front Row At The Trump Show. Jon talks about President Trump’s long coronavirus briefings and what it’s like to cover them, the similarities between his reaction to the pandemic and to Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Dorian, how the president actually feels about reporters (and vice versa), and what we can expect to see from him as the pandemic crisis bears down on the general election. Also: the Democratic presidential primary is technically still going on. Is Joe Biden doing the right thing by laying (somewhat) low?
March 27, 2020
The US now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, but it appears we haven’t reached the worst yet.President Trump signed a $2 trillion economic relief package for Americans and businesses. How much relief is in the relief bill? And will it be enough? The president is also eager to reopen the country, which could be a disaster if it’s done too early. Is President Trump wrong to say he doesn’t think New York will need tens of thousands of ventilators? How is the American healthcare system responding so far? Aaron Carroll and Betsey Stevenson join the panel for this week’s episode.
March 20, 2020
Californians and New Yorkers and people in many other jurisdictions are being ordered to stay at home, and it’s advised across the whole country. Is this going to work to stop the coronavirus outbreak? And are our hospitals ready for the surge of patients they are sure to see over the coming weeks? Dr.Kavita Patel will join us to discuss hospital preparedness, the shortage of coronavirus tests, and the prognosis for our fight against the epidemic.Conor Dougherty (economics reporter for the New York Times) will join us to discuss the crushing impact that epidemic-fighting measures are having on the economy and on workers. What can the federal government do, and whatmustit do to address that aspect of the crisis? And what does a stay-at-home order mean if you don’t have a home? The coronavirus crisis creates new urgency for California to address its homelessness crisis. Will these extraordinary circumstances help the state muster solutions to a very complicated issue?
March 13, 2020
The public health crisis response to the coronavirus pandemic is finally happening in the United States, but it’s not enough and it’s too late. President Trump has politicized the crisis. He’s minimized it, called out the “fake” media, worried about the wrong things, and not said the right things to prepare the public. Will Americans do what they’ve done in the face of a crisis before: fumble at the beginning but ultimately muster the response and resources needed? Samuel Brannen of the Center for Strategic and International Studies joins the panel to talk about a pandemic simulation he took part in just a few months ago. He shares the lessons learned, what’s playing out differently in real life, and what’s still in our control. House Democrats have been negotiating with the White House on a coronavirus aid package. What’s in it? Is this a big opportunity for the left to go for traditionally left objectives like paid sick leave? And do they run the risk of politicizing the pandemic too? Then: Joe Biden had another strong week. It seems like the central question of the primary race has been whether voters want massive change or for things to go back to normal, and there also seems to be a clear answer.
March 7, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak in the US is intensifying with hundreds of known cases and 14 deaths as of Friday afternoon. The stats on cases in China are a little better than a few weeks ago, but can we believe them? And beyond the $8.3 billion emergency spending package President Trump signed Friday, is our government taking the preparations that it needs to? Donald McNeil of the New York Times joins the panel. Then: Joe Biden came back in a huge way on Super Tuesday after a strong victory in the South Carolina primary. He’s in position to lock up the Democratic nomination. Voters turned out to support him — wasn’t that supposed to be the story for Bernie Sanders? Ezra Klein joins to talk about Biden’s big week, why Elizabeth Warren dropped out, and why we’re polarized, which is the topic of his new book. Ezra explains his argument and what it would mean to nominate Joe Biden, who has explicitly pushed back on polarization. Will he have any luck if elected?
February 29, 2020
The coronavirus is bearing down on the United States. Is President Trump saying the right things? He tapped Vice President Pence to lead coronavirus task force. What of then-Indiana Governor Pence’s record during an HIV outbreak there? And as stocks nose-dived as the coronavirus news got worse, fears of economic tumult became more real. Meanwhile, Super Tuesday is mere days away. Where do the candidates stand after the Nevada caucuses and a chaotic South Carolina debate? What makes a good debate anyways? Then, lawyer and legal scholar Linda Hirshman talks with Keli Goff about the Harvey Weinstein verdict and what it represents for the #MeToo movement. Plus: Bernie Sanders’ universal childcare proposal, Alaska’s governor faces a recall campaign, and lynching may become a federal hate crime.
February 22, 2020
Now that’s what we call a debate. The candidates stopped being polite and started getting real, and all it took was getting Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage. Though, with all the fighting and several direct hits from Elizabeth Warren on his company’s nondisclosure agreements, he didn’t really fight back that much. Is the Bloomberg bubble about to pop? Can anyone dislodge Bernie from the lead? Are we headed to a contested Democratic convention? The panel breaks down the Democratic debate: fights over stop and frisk, sexual harassment, health care, and the name of Mexico’s president. Should President Trump be eager to face Bernie Sanders? And Trump says he’s the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. Weren’t Republicans supposed to be against that sort of thing?
February 15, 2020
President Trump is on a revenge tour, firing administration officials who cooperated with the impeachment probe, using Twitter to rail against the prosecutions of his allies, and demanding to know why the Justice Department doesn't prosecute more of his enemies. Attorney General William Barr says he wants the president to back off and stop tweeting, but Barr has also been taking extraordinary interventions in criminal cases of interest to the president. Then: Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary but with the smallest vote share ever for a New Hampshire winner. Will the Democratic field ever winnow? Is there a real possibility of a contested convention? Is it Mike Bloomberg's fault? Are all the candidates being too nice to each other? Speaking of Bloomberg, he's soaring in the national polls on the back of an enormous television campaign, and speaking of being too nice, should we be seeing more attack ads? Erika Franklin Fowler of the Wesleyan Media Project talks about the power of those ads and whether they make a difference for voters.
February 8, 2020
It was a full week. On Monday, the Iowa caucuses were a bit of a meltdown for Democrats, but did the mess sort of, maybe help some of the candidates? Kind of. What happened to Joe Biden? And what happens when you’re a reporter covering a caucus and you see things obviously going wrong? **Tim Carney **and Olivia Nuzzi talk about what they witnessed in Iowa and how the campaigns are taking it as they head to New Hampshire. Election law expert Rick Hasen lays out the damage done in Iowa and what he’s concerned about as the primary season continues. President Trump gave his state of the union address on Tuesday and it was a three-in-one kind of speech with all the reality show trimmings we’ve come to expect. The panel discusses that and analyzes the Democrats’ messaging about the economy in Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s response. And on Wednesday, the Senate acquitted President Trump in the impeachment inquiry. Mitt Romney was the only Republican — this time and in history — who voted to convict and remove the president on one of the articles.
February 1, 2020
As the impeachment trial of President Trump draws to a close, has this been a useful exercise? What did we learn? Who were the friends we made along the way? And will the result of the trial matter for future presidencies, or for the November election? Susan Hennessey of the Lawfare blog will tell us what may (or may not) be stopping John Bolton from talking, with the Senate declining to seek his testimony. Paul Krugman will join us to talk about his new book Arguing With Zombies where the zombies are ideas like “tax cuts pay for themselves” and “budget deficits are hurting the economy.” And Juliette Kayyem gives her analysis of the US response so far to the Wuhan coronavirus. All that plus a look ahead to the Iowa caucuses — hello, that’s on Monday — is in this episode.
January 24, 2020
Forty-eight hours of presentations for the prosecution and the defense, and senators are watching it all silently, with only water and milk to drink. But will the trial change any minds, inside the senate chamber or in the country as a whole? The Left, Right & Center panel discusses eerily stable public opinion: on impeachment, on Donald Trump, and on the Democratic primary candidates. Why doesn’t anybody change their mind anymore? But: when people do change their minds, lately it’s been toward Bernie Sanders or Mike Bloomberg. Is Joe Biden’s perpetual poll lead as stable as it looks? Ariel Edwards-Levy talks polling with the panel. Plus: is the primary too nice? Where are the attack ads? Is it just civil, or does it deny voters the contrasting information about the candidates they deserve?
January 17, 2020
The Senate impeachment trial has officially begun, and yet...new information is still coming out and senators are still divided about witness testimony. Do the Lev Parnas documents released this week change anything? What about the Government Accountability Office determination that the Trump administration broke the law in withholding the Ukraine aid? If some Republican senators mount a campaign for witness testimony, what might that fight look like? Even so, don’t we already know how this is going to end? This week, in a moment of bipartisan cooperation, the Senate approved the USMCA trade agreement. It’s a victory for President Trump. And then there’s the phase one trade deal with China. President Trump signed it this week. Is it also a victory? Or is a bit weak? There was a debate this week in Iowa ahead of the caucuses. The candidates talked trade, foreign policy, and then there was that moment between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Felicia Wong talks about a new project from the Roosevelt Institute on the failures of neoliberalism and what comes after for progressives.
January 10, 2020
Iran’s response to our attack that killed Qassem Soleimani looks like a climbdown, for now. Is it time for President Trump to take a victory lap? Should we be watching for unconventional reprisals from Iran? Much of the coverage this week has centered around Iran, but what impact has this had on our already-fragile relationship with Iraq? Jarrett Blanc of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace talks about the way forward with Iran, including what remains of the Iran nuclear deal and if there’s any way more sanctions could have an impact on Iran. Plus: lawmakers’ reaction to the strike, flashbacks to 2002, and impeachment -- is that still happening?
January 4, 2020
Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in an American airstrike at the Baghdad airport. General Soleimani was arguably the second most powerful person in Iran and a destabilizing force in the Middle East for decades. He led Iran’s interventions in other countries in the region, including support for militias in Iraq that killed hundreds of American soldiers. The targeted killing of Soleimani was a major escalation in the conflict with Iran. Lawmakers are debating over whether the strike was wise, and what the costs to American interests will be. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the attack on Soleimani was based on intelligence that he was imminently going to undertake an attack that could have killed Americans. What Iran will do now that Soleimani is dead? And could the US be drawn into a broader war? Michael Singh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy joins the panel to analyze the attack and the aftermath so far.  Then: Natahsha Sarin of the University of Pennsylvania joins the panel to talk about California utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric, the troubled utility whose aging infrastructure has sparked wildfires, required widespread blackouts and driven the company into bankruptcy for the second time in two decades. Does the US succeed or fail at holding companies like PG&E accountable? Natasha also talk about the debate over wealth taxes proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and whether they will generate as much revenue as the candidates claim.
December 27, 2019
Who is the center? Are there swing voters anymore, and what do they want? How did Donald Trump succeed at appealing at enough of the center to win the 2016 election, and what kind of candidate do Democrats need to pick to win the center back over? Political scientist Lee Drutman will tell us who these voters are, and how being a swing voter doesn’t necessarily mean being an ideological moderate. Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and Erin McPike talk about policy making, what’s misunderstood about voters in the center, and what centrist voters are looking for in the 2020 field. Then, Josh talks with two Left, Right & Center regulars, Kelli Goff and Tom Nichols, about their difficulty figuring out where we can fit in this increasingly polarized political system. They talk about the road to political independence and Josh makes the case for being in a political party, even if you don’t like it very much.
December 21, 2019
Donald Trump is officially the third president to be impeached. The Democrats held together, with just one defection to the GOP and one “present” vote than they had a few weeks ago to open the impeachment inquiry. After the impeachment vote, Nancy Pelosi surprised everyone by saying she wouldn’t send the impeachment articles to the Senate for now. What’s up with that? Then, the Democratic presidential candidates had their liveliest debate yet. They fought over who has the necessary experience to win, Afghanistan policy, trade, health care, and who’s been spending too much in wine caves, and more. Josh Barro, Rich Lowry, Liz Bruenig and Gustavo Arellano discuss.
December 14, 2019
The House of Representatives is almost ready to impeach President Trump, but they’re also working weirdly closely with him. This week they’ve approved a spending deal, signing off on his Space Force in exchange for federal employee parental leave, getting ready to approve his signature Nafta update. And the president’s phase one trade deal with China is maybe sorta done? On the other side of the pond, Boris Johnson won a resounding victory in the United Kingdom and is somehow set to be the most politically successful conservative prime minister since Margaret Thatcher. How the bloody hell did that happen? Andrew Sullivan joins the panel to talk about Johnson’s strange appeal, how the British Left went so wrong, and what lessons (if any) there are for the United States.
December 6, 2019
President Trump was in the UK earlier in the week for the annual NATO summit, where he fought openly with French President Emmanuel Macron about policy toward ISIS. Macron was caught on camera having an incredulous conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They were laughing about Trump’s rambling press conferences. So Trump cancelled his final press conference at the summit and left early to head back to Washington. Jonathan Katz, senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, discusses what the President’s odd diplomacy means for U.S. relationships and alliances. Plus, the impeachment process moved to a new phase with law professors making the case for or against Impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee. But did the professors add anything useful? Jonathan Adler, Case Western Reserve law professor explains.
November 28, 2019
If you think about it, the Iowa caucuses aren’t THAT far away. This week, Josh Barro interviews two political scientists who have been studying major trends and shifts. First,Lara Putnamfrom the University of Pittsburgh updates us on the Resistance groups: middle-aged, college-educated women in American suburbs who became politically active after the 2016 election. Where is the Resistance now ahead of the 2020 primaries? Then, Davin Phoenix explains his work studying the “anger gap”: why anger moves voters, why white voters can channel it more readily than black voters, and how that gap shapes the choice Democrats will make this winter. Then, we put it all together with two campaign trail reporters.Astead Herndon andCharlotte Alter talk about the field, what they’re seeing on the ground and the inroads the candidates are making into these voting blocs.
November 22, 2019
It’s been two weeks of dramatic public testimony in the impeachment inquiry. The House, almost certainly, will move forward with articles of impeachment and it seems Democrats are hell bent on finishing the impeachment process by Christmas. But the inquiry hasn’t swayed public opinion of President Trump, and as a result, Republicans don’t feel political pressure to support impeachment. As for the White House, President Trump is calling for a Senate trial, so it seems he’s eager to present his case. So what will impeachment actually accomplish? And what should the articles of impeachment be? Plus, this week, President Trump intervened in three military justice cases, pardoning or vacating charges against three military service members who were accused of war crimes. How does that square with Trump’s law-and-order hardline? And, oh, by the way, the fifth Democratic debate was this week. Was it a snooze? How are things looking for the candidates?
November 16, 2019
The impeachment hearings have begun. Thirteen million Americans tuned in on Wednesday, and President Trump himself was angry tweeting about them on Friday. Will they change minds as the House heads toward what could be a near party line vote to impeach President Trump before Christmas? On the first day of impeachment hearings, President Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. What explains their cozy relationship, even as the US and Turkey drift apart? Top White House adviser Stephen Miller’s emails leaked and we know he was sending around links from white-supremacist websites. Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is promoting her book. Is she promoting herself as a possible vice president? And Deval Patrick is running for president. Does anyone care?
November 9, 2019
This week, a few polls in key battleground states made a lot of liberals nervous. The polls show signs of a close 2020 election, a departure from the picture we often see in national polling. Part of the message is that President Trump’s electoral college advantage is widening, and with critical wins in swing states, it’s possible he could be re-elected with an even smaller margin than in 2016. What’s the key message for Democrats here? What do the numbers say about the field of candidates? Democrats did have a good night in Tuesday’s elections. Republicans held onto the governorship in Mississippi by about six points, but in Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear defeated the Republican incumbent with enduring support from Appalachian eastern Kentucky and new support in the Louisville and Cincinnati suburbs. The suburbs also delivered a win for Democrats in Virginia: the party now controls both chambers of the state legislature in addition to the governorship. And Michael Bloomberg is reportedly considering a run for president. Does he fill a void in the field? And what do the numbers say? Ariel Edwards-Levy joins the panel to talk through all of the numbers. Then, Rich Lowry discusses the arguments in his new book, The Case For Nationalism, why nationalism shouldn’t be a dirty word, and the cultural ties that bind Americans.
November 1, 2019
In a near party line vote, the impeachment inquiry is now a formal inquiry. Once divided, all but two Democrats voted for the resolution. How did the party coalesce so quickly? On Sunday morning, President Trump announced a special forces mission, in conjunction with local partners, that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. But this isn’t the end of ISIS. Michael Singh, Washington Institute Managing Director and former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, says that while the news is certainly a blow to the group and its efforts, it is just temporary. “This probably throws ISIS into a bit of disarray. But, still, you have 11,000, maybe more, ISIS members at large, in addition to those in prisons, who are probably still committed to conducting acts of terrorism. And at the end of the day, the underlying conditions that helped give rise to ISIS are arguably worse now than they were then.” So what is next for ISIS? How much did oil factor into this mission? And what can we gather from the way President Trump thanked partners in the aftermath? Then, Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan is in the news again — this time because it’s part of her plan to fund single-payer healthcare. Gabriel Zucman, one of the economists who advised Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan, joins the show to talk about the plan and the optimal tax rate billionaires should pay. What’s the viability of that wealth tax plan? Similar plans have faltered in other countries. What’s different about the US? Should we all dream of becoming billionaires? Does a higher tax rate throw water on that dream?
October 25, 2019
Ambassador William Taylor described a quid pro quo — military aid in exchange for a Ukrainian announcement of an investigation into Burisma — in his testimony to Congress. He says a top national security official told him that, and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland confirmed it, saying he’d made a mistake when he said only a White House meeting depended on such an announcement. In fact, “everything” depended on it. President Trump usurped Congress’ constitutional spending powers for personal use. Is this impeachable. Rich Lowry, Linette Lopez and Josh Barro debate. Plus: The situation in Syria heats up, Democrats and Republicans take unlikely positions on tax policy, and could Congress do anything to prevent another WeWork mess? And what’s the status of the “phase one” trade deal with China? Have we agreed to anything?
October 19, 2019
The situation in Syria changed quickly this week. A five-day cease-fire, which Turkey is calling a “pause,” negotiated by Vice President Mike Pence, seemed to be barely holding up less than 24 hours after it was announced. President Trump considers the agreement a victory, but some members of the GOP disagree. Mike Singh of the Washington Institute joins the panel to talk about who the winners were from the agreement. Hint: it wasn’t the Kurds. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney this week said withholding aid from Ukraine unless they investigated Democrats was a quid pro quo... and then he said it wasn’t. And we should just “get over it.” Democrats stormed out of a meeting with Trump at the White House about Syria policy after Trump insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Next year’s G7 summit will be held at Trump’s Doral resort in Miami, which everyone agrees doesn’t look too good, and not just because Miami is humid in June. Keli Goff joins the discussion. The Democratic candidates held their fourth debate this week. Joe Biden addressed the elephant in the room: his son, Hunter’s role on the board of the Ukrainian company Burisma. But was his answer good enough? While the candidates seemed to all agree that billionaires shouldn’t exist, even Tom Steyer, the actual billionaire, the wealth tax that Elizabeth Warren is proposing doesn’t appeal to all of them. But, can we at least all agree that millionaires are well off? Maybe not.
October 11, 2019
The Ukraine story got a lot bigger this week. Can a lot of this mess be explained by pointing to the departure of the people in President Trump’s circle who contained his worst instincts? The impeachment story and a health scare have shaken up the Democratic primary. Joe Biden struggles to hit back at the president’s unfair attacks on him. Not much attention has been paid to Bernie Sanders suffering a heart attack, but Elizabeth Warren has gotten quite a bit of attention for saying she was fired from her teaching job for being pregnant. Then: China is really mad at the NBA for a tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters from the Houston Rockets general manager. The panel discusses how the Chinese Communist Party uses global capitalism to their advantage, and what the US can do to export ideas of freedom to China and not import their restrictions on speech. Finally: President Trump made a seemingly rash decision to withdraw American military support of the Kurdish forces that control much of the north of Syria. This paved the way for a Turkish invasion. Turkey has a long and hostile relationship with the Kurds. Both are allies of the United States, and the move got a bipartisan backlash from Congress. What motivated this decision? And where does it leave American security interests in the region, particularly with ISIS? Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations joins to discuss.
October 4, 2019
“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” That was a text message from our top diplomat in Ukraine last month, just before this whole mess about President Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden became public. Ukraine was wondering what was going on with the $400 million in militar aid it was owed, and it’s looking more and more like a quid pro quo. Trump says his key focus is corruption.   Democratic pollster Margie Omero joins the panel to discuss public polling on impeachment and how much Republicans and Democrats should worry about what it will mean for the next election. Nick Miroff talks about how President Trump has and hasn’t changed immigration policy, and why many fewer people are trying to illegally cross the southern border.
September 27, 2019
Nancy Pelosi says the inquiry is on, and it now has the support from nearly every Democrat and therefore, a majority of the House. This may be a rapid impeachment — just two months and just about the new Ukraine scandal. Should this be quick and easy? Or should there be more hearings and more charges? Spoiler alert: no one on the show expects the Senate to actually remove President Trump if he is indeed impeached, so what then is the strategic reason to impeach him? And how might this affect Democrats, including those running for president against Trump and those running for down-ballot races in 2020? President Trump railed against the whistleblower, insinuating that people who passed along information to that person were spies and spies should be executed. Bradley Moss, a lawyer specializing in national security issues and whistleblower protections, joins the panel to talk about President Trump’s comments, protocols for whistleblowers, and how this story saw daylight in the first place.  Finally, what is going on with Brexit? Tom Nuttall updates the panel on the mayhem across the pond.
September 20, 2019
There’s a whistleblower complaint from a member of the intelligence community that has something to do with President Trump communicating an inappropriate promise to a foreign leader. Multiple outlets are reporting the memo is about Ukraine and the president’s efforts to lean on the Ukranian government to investigate Joe Biden. But the acting director of national intelligence won’t share the complaint with Congress even though they are ordinarily legally entitled to see it. So, information about the complaint has been leaking. What could the president have said to prompt the whistleblower complaint? Evelyn Farkas joins the panel to discuss that, and the attack on a Saudi oil facility, what it means for the American economy and what had looked like hopes for a Trump thaw with Iran. Then: like many politicians in Washington, we will revisit the fight over Brett Kavanaugh, plus the fight between supporters of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.  Finally: Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post will make the case for moving your family to rural Minnesota, like he did.
September 14, 2019
Ten Democratic presidential candidates took the stage Thursday night at Texas Southern University. There were a lot of predictions for the debate, and well, not all of them came to be. For one, we didn’t really get the Biden-Warren showdown many people were expecting. Maybe it was because Julian Castro lashed out at Biden, implying that he’s too old to be president. Josh Barro, Rich Lowry, Christine Emba and Dorian Warren discuss that exchange, plus Elizabeth Warren’s performance on health care, and the on-stage disagreements over guns, trade, China, criminal justice system, and whether it’s a good idea to announce a sweepstakes giveaway of $12,000 from your campaign. Yeah, that’s one actual thing Andrew Yang announced during the debate. Then: Jarrett Blanc, a former coordinator for the Iran nuclear deal and a State Department official focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, joins the panel to discuss the outlook after President Trump canceled peace talks with the Taliban and indicated he wants to meet with Iranian President Rouhani without preconditions. Those don’t sound like things John Bolton would propose -- which is maybe why he got fired this week.
September 6, 2019
Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and battered the Carolinas, but what dominated the news cycle? President Trump’s insistence that Alabama would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” by the hurricane. He spent the week trying to justify the claim. Did the president put residents at risk? Then: Brexit politics boiled over in the UK this week. David Henig from the European Centre for International Political Economy joins the panel to discuss the outlook for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a no-deal Brexit, and a trade deal between the UK and the US. Finally: WalMart’s getting out of much of the gun business after a very deadly shooting at one of its Texas stores, and it will ask customers not to open carry guns in its stores unless they are law enforcement officers. How should we think about actions like this by private companies? Is this social change by corporations? Is it really for their employees? And is there a God-given right to bear arms?
August 31, 2019
The week started with news from the G7 summit and headline-grabbing fires in the Amazon. Then, new polls this week seemed to indicate the Democratic primary race was tightening around Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Other new polls showed mixed messages. Did the media just hype the it-might-not-be-Biden possibility? Meanwhile, other candidates are shut out of the September debate but vowed to press on while others decided to throw in the towel. And is the love affair between President Trump and Fox News over? Elizabeth Bruenig talks about her reporting on Texas evangelicals and their faith in President Trump. Keli Goff interviews screenwriter Gregg Hurwitz on his efforts to teach Democratic candidates how to rise above the noise of Twitter and tell stories that connect better with voters in the heartland.
August 23, 2019
Clearly, it’s still August. Let’s review. President Trump was told he couldn’t buy Greenland from Denmark, so he canceled a visit to Denmark. The White House floats trial balloons of policies to address recession fears, while the president calls concerns about a recession a ploy by the Democrats and “Fake News Media.” The markets were on a rollercoaster Friday, spurred by tweets from President Trump, public comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell, and then more tweets from President Trump in response. Earlier this week, President Trump said American Jews who vote for Democrats are disloyal. The Amazon is on fire, and French President Emmanuel Macron wants to talk about it at the G7. By the way, President Trump still wants Vladimir Putin to be invited back to that meeting of the world’s largest advanced economies. Automakers are aligning with California to oppose the Trump administration’s rollback of emissions standards. More Democrats — 130 at Friday’s count — are lining up in support of impeachment.
August 16, 2019
President Trump says negative economic forecasts are fake news, but he’s also making nervous calls to his friends in the business world to ask if they’re true.
August 16, 2019
It was a wild week in the financial markets, driven by increasing worries about the global economy. President Trump delayed some tariffs on China so they won’t affect the holiday shopping season — an implicit admission that his trade policy is hurting the economy and his political standing.  Plus: visas for Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to visit Israel are denied, and the panel discusses the “electability” narrative around the women in the 2020 Democratic field. A new immigration rule from the Trump administration that could make it a lot harder to get a green card, especially if you’re poor. Randy Capps from the Migration Policy Institute talks the panel through the numbers and whether the rule is even legal.Then Michael C. Davis discusses the risks in Hong Kong that could escalate the crisis in the United States’ relationship to China.
August 9, 2019
After last weekend’s deadly mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, President Trump said Friday morning he and Congressional Republicans intend to do something on gun background checks. He said Mitch McConnell is even on board. Republican strategists told the Washington Post they’re concerned that gun issues have hurt their ability to win in the suburbs and contributed to their loss of the House in the 2018 midterms. Is there something genuine here? Might Republicans feel compelled to be seen “doing something” about guns? And what kind of regulation or policy might be possible? Then, Jane Coaston of Vox joins the panel to discuss the white nationalist movement and mass shootings, the role of national law enforcement in preventing them, and the possibility of a new law on domestic terrorism. After a dramatic escalation in the trade war with China — it’s now a currency war too — Brad Setser explains why it matters in the United States if the yuan is weakened.
August 9, 2019
Can he really get Republicans on board?
August 3, 2019
This week, the political debate dominated political debate.
August 2, 2019
If you think one candidate won, be honest: was it the same person you liked most before the debate? With so many candidates (still twenty over two nights), the debates almost turned into team fights: progressives who say the party needs to stand for bold change, and moderates who say that's unpopular and impractical, and that you need unifying messages that can build a clear anti-Trump majority. Who's right? Plus: a discussion of new tariffs and ongoing trade negotiations with China, the Fed's rate cut, Democrats inching towards impeachment, Will Hurd announces he won't seek reelection, and more of the week's news. Megan Mcardle and Helaine Olen represent the right and left with special guest Linette Lopez.
July 26, 2019
Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally testifies before congress but did anything new come to light?
July 26, 2019
It was finally Mueller time this week, and some say the Special Counsel’s tight-lipped low energy approach was intentional to avoid creating a soundbite for the news cycle. Robert Mueller did confirm that there was significant Russian interference in the 2016 US election, and that the country continues to interfere with our election system. The Democrats seemed to get the better part of the budget deal struck this week ahead of Congress’ long summer break. But some of the Democratic presidential candidates are focusing on issues like medicare for all and healthcare for undocumented immigrants, which a recent poll shows, is not what the majority of voters actually want. Special guests J.W. Mason *of the Roosevelt Institute and *Joseph Majkut of the Niskanen Center join the panel to do a deep dive into the macroeconomic case for the Green New Deal. Evelyn Farkas of the German Marshall Fund gives her take on what to do about tension with Iran (hint-it involves getting back into the nuclear deal President Trump pulled out of). And we talk about whether Trump’s demand that Sweden release rapper ASAP Rocky is a good idea.
July 19, 2019
President Trump infuriated a fractured Democratic party this week by telling four of its newest members to go back to where they came from, but did his statement galvanize his base or his opponents’?
July 19, 2019
A squabble among Democratic presidential candidates about the best path for healthcare continued this week with sniping by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders about whether medicare for all or something closer to Obamacare is going to win over voters. We talk about the rare bipartisan agreement over the repeal of the so-called cadillac tax, which imposes a tax on high-cost gold standard health plans. There was no bipartisan agreement on condemning President Trump’s suggestion that four female congresswomen nicknamed “the squad,” go back to where they came from, even though three were born in the United States. While 95 House Democrats voted in support of impeaching Trump because of his inflammatory statements, only four Republicans did. Trump may have energized his base this week, with thousands of supporters chanting “send her back” at a rally in North Carolina, but he also, at least temporarily, brought together the divided members of the Democratic party who had been feuding in recent weeks. Special guest Tim Alberta, who wrote American Carnage: On The Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, says while Trump’s incendiary language may mobilize members of his base, it also may end up alienating more moderate voters whom he needs for re-election in 2020. And we talk about how the compassionate conservatism of George W. Bush may have backfired on the party and helped bring Trump to power.
July 12, 2019
Plus: AOC makes the Fed interesting again
July 5, 2019
How is the American government system doing in its 243 year?
June 28, 2019
Who Will Carry The Torch?
June 21, 2019
President Trump got ready to attack Iran and then, at the last minute, called it off.
June 14, 2019
There’s been some interesting movement in the polls as the candidates parade through Iowa.
June 7, 2019
There were Trumpian moments, but it wasn’t Trump’s most turbulent trip to Europe.
May 31, 2019
Will these tariffs on Mexico last forever?
May 24, 2019
It was supposed to be infrastructure week for real this time.
May 17, 2019
This week, we moved a lot closer to a court challenge that could significantly reduce or eliminate constitutional protections for abortion rights.
May 10, 2019
It’s a special live Left, Right & Center recorded at UC Santa Barbara.
May 3, 2019
But will they hold him in contempt of Congress?
April 26, 2019
Joe Biden is in.
April 20, 2019
Even with redactions, there’s plenty to discuss
April 13, 2019
Secretary Nielsen resigns, starting a string of departures at DHS
April 5, 2019
What Trump the golfer can tell us about Trump the president.
March 29, 2019
We don’t have the Mueller report yet, but we do have the Attorney General’s letter about the Mueller report.
March 22, 2019
Democratic candidates are getting their days in the sun
March 15, 2019
Also in the show: President Trump’s first veto in defense of his border wall, Boeing, and college admissions scandal
March 8, 2019
Let’s talk about how we got here.
March 1, 2019
President Trump said there is “warmth” between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, even though their summit was cut short with no deal.
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