Left, Right & Center-logo

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


Biden has 99 problems and the ports back logs are just one

The Port of Los Angeles will now be running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, under a new plan announced by President Biden. Right now his administration is juggling a lot of problems that are weighing down voter confidence in his presidency: supply chain logjams, rising inflation, a slowing job market and gridlock in Congress. The persistent list of problems now 10 months into Biden’s first term runs counter to the “return to normal” message he successfully ran on when he beat then-President...


We’re doing this again?

It’s been an especially stupid week in Congress. Members of Congress are fighting over the debt limit – an archaic, post-war provision from the 20th century. Both sides of the aisle agree that the debt limit needs to go up… but they disagree on how. Democrats can do this on their own. What are they afraid of? Attack ads? Taking up too much floor time when they have other legislation they could be working on, like the infrastructure bill and the spending bill that….they still haven’t agreed...


Uncontrolled spread

It’s...past the wire for Democrats and their votes on two big spending packages that are the priorities of President Biden. As we recorded this episode Friday morning, the promised day for a House vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill had passed and Democrats were still fighting amongst themselves on both the price tag of the spending bill and what to prioritize between social and climate spending. All eyes are on the Progressive Caucus, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema, and...


Deep dives on Hispanic and Latino voters, and the future of abortion access in the US

This week, guest host and Left, Right & Center contributor Keli Goff takes a deep dive into two issues in the news right now. First: she speaks with Geraldo Cadava about what Democrats and Republicans misunderstand about the “Latino vote” and what they get right. Geraldo says the parties oversimplify voters’ profiles and overlook important factors like geography, the rural/urban divide, class, and many others. Keli and Geraldo discuss the faults of thinking about groups of voters as...


Cliffs, drugs and taxes

Democrats have spent weeks talking about their big spending plans, and now they’re talking about how to pay for them. Some ideas: tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans, a capital gains tax regimen, and allowing the government to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies which would cut what the government pays and cutting costs for other American consumers. But can progressives and moderates agree on how to do these things? And how much will the scope of the...


Required to require

This week, President Biden announced a sweeping new mandate for American workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Companies with 100 or more employees are mandated to require employees to be vaccinated or take a weekly test. Health care workers and federal government employees and contractors must be vaccinated. Companies will have to give employees paid time off to be vaccinated, plus more time to recuperate from any side effects. Is this the right thing to do? Democrats are already making...


Is this the end of Roe?

This week, a new law took effect in Texas prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women are aware that they’re pregnant. There are many state laws that seek to impose bans on abortions after a certain point in pregnancy, but none are designed the way this Texas law is. It creates a procedural and legal hurdle to those seeking abortions right now, effectively stopping them altogether, before the law can be challenged and reviewed in court. The Supreme Court...


The bombing at Kabul airport

A suicide bombing near the Kabul airport killed 13 U.S. service members just days ahead of the withdrawal deadline. The Biden administration still plans to withdraw from Afghanistan by August 31. Does this deadly attack change that calculus? Also: Democrats in the House are testing their leverage over two very spending bills: the infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion social spending bill...that we don’t really know too much about yet. David Dayen says he can’t envision one passing...


The Chaos in Afghanistan

Kabul has fallen. While this was expected to happen, the U.S. government has been surprised by how quickly the Taliban took over. At the start of this week, there were as many as 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan. Now, Americans, along with thousands of Afghans, are trying to flee the country. The result? Mass chaos. This week, panelists Josh Barro, Liz Bruenig, Megan McArdle and special guest Paul D. Miller spend the entire show talking about the war in Afghanistan. Why did the war continue...


Policy and people after plagues

The Delta surge continues, and case counts are especially high in the Southeast. There’s now less optimism about herd immunity (for several reasons) and it’s looking like covid is on its way to being endemic – a disease that’s likely to be with us for a long time but becomes less deadly due to vaccines and natural immunity and adapting to life with another virus. Andrew Sullivan argues this is not new for humans: We have learned how to do it before and we will learn to do it again. How do we...


Mind your own business

The vaccine mandates are coming. In New York, you’ll now need to prove you’re vaccinated to go to a restaurant, bar, gym or entertainment venue. Other American cities are considering similar rules. In the last week, more businesses are announcing rules about vaccines. How would it actually work to enforce these rules at millions of businesses? Also: If you have a smartphone, listen up. This week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) joins the panel to discuss how a high-profile member of the U.S....


Vaccines, masks, carrots, sticks

Masks are back. The CDC says even vaccinated Americans should resume wearing masks as the Delta variant sends case counts skyrocketing. But why are we still talking about masks when the most effective tool to fight COVID is the vaccines? What’s stalling government vaccine mandates for federal employees? Are we using carrots and sticks effectively? Then: it’s not a bipartisan infrastructure framework anymore — it’s a bipartisan infrastructure deal. It includes hard infrastructure like roads,...


Rush before recess

Congress is in that busy mode before it goes on vacation. What’s moving forward? Right now, it’s the negotiations over the bipartisan infrastructure framework and Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending package. What’s stalling? Voting rights and police reform. Josh Barro talks with panelists Megan McArdle and Gustavo Arellano about why that’s fizzled and all the homework Congress is trying to finish before summer recess. Then: the delta variant is continuing to wreak havoc on the...


The Democrats’ go-big budget

This week on Left, Right & Center: Senate Democrats have their plates full between the bipartisan infrastructure bill they’re already working on and a new $3.5 trillion spending bill they announced this week. This one would be mostly social spending: paid family leave, child care, universal pre-kindergarten and expanding Medicare to include vision, dental and hearing. Josh Barro, Liz Bruenig and Megan McArdle discuss whether there will be public support for infrastructure and this big social...


Leaving Afghanistan

On this week’s Left Right & Center, Josh, Liz and Ross talk about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years. But what do we have to show for America’s longest war? And should we fear a return of the Taliban to power? Then: We now know who’s winning the Democratic primary– and likely the mayorship– in New York City. Who is Eric Adams, and does his “Biden-style politics” mark a crucial break from the progressive left? Also: we take a deep dive into the political and...


Special presentation of All The Presidents’ Lawyers

This week’s episode is a special presentation of All The Presidents’ Lawyers, a KCRW podcast that Josh Barro and Ken White host. It’s all about the legal problems of presidents and their associates. This week: the indictments of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and various Trump businesses came down. The charges allege a a fifteen-year tax fraud scheme that protected Weisselberg and other Trump Organization employees from paying tax. In Weisselberg’s case, that’s over $1.7 million...


It’s Infrastructure Week, again!

A bipartisan success story: That’s how President Biden wants us to remember the infrastructure deal he announced this week. It was an opportunity for the president to remind people that he gets Congress, he knows how to reach across the aisle, and he’ll still reassure progressives that it won’t stop him from delivering on other Democratic priorities. In this episode: Ross, Liz and Josh discuss what’s in the infrastructure deal, if it’ll get the additional support it needs to be come a...


Or else

After a highly anticipated summit between President Biden and Vladimir Putin, here’s what we’re left with: if Russia’s going to cyberattack the United States, they should not target sixteen critical areas of American society and infrastructure, or else. What does that mean? And where does that leave us with Russian hackers that aren’t part of the government? Also: The Supreme Court upholds Obamacare after another attempt to shake it down. Is this a win for progressives? Is it a major loss...


Secret Congress

Joe Biden is in Europe. He’s meeting with the G7, then he’ll see European and NATO leaders and meet one-on-one with Putin. European leaders are relieved Trump is gone, but does that mean they have an alignment of interests with Biden ashe seeks to challenge Russia and China? And is that more pressing than the role of G7 leaders in leading vaccination around the world? Then: the new bipartisan infrastructure deal is so secret nobody even know what’s in it. We know one thing that’s not in it:...


An improved jobs report but still a long road to economic recovery

The jobs report for May was better than April but still left a lot of room for improvement. Workers are being more selective, which may not be a bad thing. With a tight labor market and a material shortage, is this the right time for a big infrastructure package? Negotiations continue in Washington for a possible bipartisan deal, but the final package may be much more modest than what President Biden hoped for. The cruise line industry is trying to recover after a devastating year and the...