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 spending package, if the push could turn out to be a political win or liability for Democrats, if the party will remain united or do some necessary hashing out, and the pay-fors. One of the ways to pay for it is empowering the IRS to recoup unpaid taxes and it could mean that lower- and middle-income earners could be audited more frequently. Is that bad?
Then: Rising covid cases and new virus variants are a major concern for public health, the economic recovery, and a return to normal. Are breakthrough infections also a blindspot for our covid analysis? Former Obama administration health policy adviser Dr. Kavita Patel talks about the gulf in infections between vaccinated and unvaccinated people and whether it would help for the FDA to fully approve the vaccines.
And finally — welcome to ECON 101 at LRC. Today we’re talking inflation. Consumer prices rose 0.9% in June, and we’re seeing the most rapid rate of inflation since the 2008 recession. What’s going on, and should you be concerned? We discuss.