Podcast Recommendation

The Ezra Klein show on the "infrastructure" bill.

Photo by SLT

For those who were interested in the ongoing discussion of the meaning of “infrastructure” and the Biden administration’s approach to it, I would recommend the April 21st edition of The Ezra Klein Show: The Best Explanation of Biden’s Thinking I’ve Heard. It is an interview with Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council.

I recommend it not in terms of persuasion over the administration’s approach, but rather, as the title of the episode suggests, it provides useful insight as to the administration’s thinking on these topics.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Richard Gardner says:

    I’ll have to listen to this. We’ve been talking about the problems with infrastructure since I got my BSE in Civil Engineering (UCI!) in the 80s (the E just means that it is also a general Engineering degree). We’ve always had failing bridges, this isn’t new (ASCE has an annual rating, goes up and down, but in general C- to D since 1970). My view is if it doesn’t need engineering review, it isn’t infrastructure. The craziest no, that isn’t infrastructure (New Speak, INGSOC Dictionary) that I’ve seen is ,

    Mondaire Jones [D-NY], who is sponsoring the bill through the House, tweeted: ‘Our democracy is under assault, and the Supreme Court has dealt the sharpest blows. To restore power to the people, we must #ExpandTheCourt.’

    He added: ‘Supreme Court expansion is infrastructure.’

    [I don’t think that was sarcasm]

    I’ll tell you in my city and county, public works is preparing proposals and preliminary studies so that some of the big projects that are way too expensive without Federal money will meet the wickets so they can be considered. “Shovel ready” needs lot of preliminary work (NEPA, studies of alternatives, …). Money, money everywhere? Nope. Meanwhile there wre 2 mass transit agencies (NYC and DC) that were asking for 80%+ of the total transportation funding in the last relief bill (I think they were asking for ~$30B, somewhere about that). In my city I know a condemned bridge that is closed (saves 3+ miles) is shovel ready for removal, but there isn’t a design for the replacement. What is shovel ready (or short design) in WA State are repairing the culverts under roads for the holy salmon passage. This is taking up much of the road money due to court decisions (yes, the 50-60s designs blocked the fish, but it is one of many factors for the salmon decline
    ). OPM = Other People’s Money, easiest to spend. [BTW, when you recommend a podcast could you please list the length? (57:44)]

  2. James Joyner says:

    I only listen to something like a third to a half of the episodes because don’t care about the subject matter a lot of the time. But Ezra is a really solid interviewer, asking thoughtful, probing questions while putting the focus on the subject at hand rather than himself.

  3. @Richard Gardner: First: Zot!


    My view is if it doesn’t need engineering review, it isn’t infrastructure.

    This is not an unreasonable definition. But I also think that political deployment of an expansive definition is smart. Moreover, the contents of the bill are the contents of the bill regardless of the term used to define it.

    Put another way: the expansive use of the term tells us about the Biden’s administration’s way pf thinking about domestic policy. (For good or for ill).

  4. @James Joyner: I have actually only listened to a handful–but agree that Klein does a really good job.