In the past few months, Joe Biden’s agenda has gone from a failed promise to real legislation.
Taken together, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act (along with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act) have the potential to put America on a path to decarbonization, develop some of the most advanced and crucial supply chains in the world, and build all kinds of next-generation technologies. It’s hard to overstate just how transformative these plans could be if they are carried out in the right way.
But that’s a big “if.” Because Biden’s legacy will not be written just in tax code and regulatory law. All of this legislation is about building things in the real world — from wind farms to semiconductor manufacturing plants to electric vehicle charging stations and so much more. Which means the hard work isn’t over. It’s just beginning.
Felicia Wong is the president and chief executive of the Roosevelt Institute and someone who has had an unusually clear read of the Biden administration from the beginning. Wong has been arguing that Biden wants to fundamentally reshape the productive capacity of the economy. And now he’s gotten approval of bills that have the potential to do just that. But Wong is also realistic about the obstacles in the way of realizing that project. And so the question at the center of this conversation is: What will it take to turn the Biden agenda from written legislation into lived reality?
We also discuss the death of the “care infrastructure” for helping families that was at the heart of the Build Back Better proposal, the challenges of building up the American semiconductor industry, why some progressives view these bills as “corporate welfare,” the conservative argument that government shouldn’t be “picking winners and losers,” how these bills could respond to America’s deep regional inequalities, how to address the problem of NIMBYism, what participatory budgeting and worker cooperatives can teach us about better ways to represent community voices, why we should want the government to take bigger risks even if that means more government failure, and much more
“All Biden Has to Do Now Is Change the Way We Live” by Ezra Klein
The Middle Out by Michael Tomasky (accompanied by new podcast, "How to Save a Country")
Elite Capture by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò
Chords of Change (forthcoming 2023) by Deepak Bhargava and Stephanie Luce
Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].
You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.
“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin and Rogé Karma. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Original music by Isaac Jones. Mixing by Carole Sabouraud and Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski.