The Weeds

The Weeds

In politics, you’re often told not to get lost in the weeds. But we love the weeds! That’s where politics becomes policy – the stuff that shapes our lives. Every Tuesday, Dylan Matthews, Dara Lind, and other voices dig into the weeds on important national issues, including healthcare immigration, and housing. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Episodes

May 17, 2022 53 min
Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind are joined by Annie Lowrey (@annielowrey), a staff writer at the Atlantic, to talk about why it’s so hard for people to get government benefits. Frequently called the “time tax,” the administrative burden of applying for and distributing government benefits leads to thousands of people not getting the aid they qualify for.  References: Annie Lowrey on Code America’s efforts to fight the Time Tax P...
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Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind talk with Washington Post economic columnist Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) about the global food supply crisis spinning out of the war in Ukraine. The crisis is so bad that the United Nations said it could be the worst shortage since World War II. What, if anything, can be done? Dylan, Dara, and Heather discuss how we got here and the costs of potential solutions. References: The war in Ukraine is ...
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Dara Lind sits down with Vox Supreme Court correspondent Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) for a deep dive into the leaked draft opinion on abortion written by Justice Samuel Alito. They discuss the text of the opinion itself; why Alito was chosen to write it; and what could happen in the days, weeks, and months following a ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.  References: The Roe opinion and the case against the Supreme Court  Ian’s e...
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This episode originally published in October 2021 as the first installment of our “Most Dangerous Branch” miniseries about the Supreme Court. Vox senior correspondent Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) talks with NYU professor Melissa Murray about the future of Roe v. Wade, specifically discussing some of the legal theories used to chip away at the law. References: What we know and don't know on the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wad...
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April 26, 2022 50 min
Dylan Matthews interviews economist Chris Blattman (@cblatts) about his new book Why We Fight, which examines the root causes of war and what can be done to stop it. In a wide-ranging discussion that touches on conflict all over the world, Dylan and Chris discuss the role of the state, commonalities among historical conflicts, and the game theory of war. References: Chris Blattman’s book, Why We Fight Chris’s research work Re...
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April 19, 2022 48 min
Buckle up! The Weeds Time Machine is back. Today, Dylan Matthews, Dara Lind, and special guest Maureen Cropper, economist and professor at the University of Maryland, travel back in time to the 1970s to discuss one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation of the 20th century: the Clean Air Act.  References: White paper: Looking Back at 50 Years of the Clean Air Act  Hosts: Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt), senior ...
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April 12, 2022 55 min
Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind are joined by Washington Post reporter Toluse Olorunnipa (@ToluseO) to talk more taxes for our hot! tax! policy! episodes this month. Today’s topic: Sen. Rick Scott’s 11-point plan to rescue America. Dylan, Dara, and Tolu get into the specifics of Scott’s policy proposal and speculate if the culture wars have seeped into tax policy. Plus, a white paper about unemployment benefits and opioid overdose...
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April 5, 2022 52 min
Weeds co-hosts Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind are joined by Vox policy editor Libby Nelson (@libbyanelson) to talk about some hot! tax! policy! But mostly, why it’s so annoying to file our taxes every year. The three discuss why the tax code is so complicated to begin with; compare our filing system to other countries; and daydream about what could be done to fix the system. Plus, a white paper about, you guessed it: taxes. Refe...
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March 29, 2022 53 min
Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind are joined by Washington Post columnist Christine Emba (@ChristineEmba) to discuss the end of Covid-era welfare programs. We just hit two years of the pandemic, and some of those social safety programs, most notably the child tax credit, have expired. These policies dramatically improved the lives of millions of Americans; did we waste an opportunity to make these policies permanent? And later, a co...
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March 22, 2022 55 min
Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind are joined by Vox Senior Politics Correspondent Andrew Prokop (@awprokop) for a dive deep into the newly redrawn 2022 congressional maps. They discuss what makes a fair map, the strategy behind gerrymandering, and what this could mean for the 2022 midterm elections. Plus, a white paper about the Voting Rights Act and Black electoral representation in Congress. References: Andrew’s explainer on the...
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March 15, 2022 51 min
Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind are joined by Robinson Meyer (@robinsonmeyer), a staff writer at the Atlantic, to talk about the illusion of US energy independence. They discuss how the US produces its oil; the fracking boom and bust; and the country’s position in the global market. Plus, a white paper about carbon taxes and CO2 emissions in Sweden.  References: Robinson’s piece about America’s “independence” from Russian oil He...
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Dylan Matthews and Jerusalem Demsas are joined by Nick Buttrick (@NickButtrick), a psychologist at Princeton, to talk about interstate mobility in the US (or the lack thereof). They talk about why it is so hard to move; why some of those reasons, Jerusalem argues, are arbitrary; and what an immobile population means for American culture.   References: Jerusalem’s article about why it’s so hard to move in America Nick Buttric...
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March 1, 2022 69 min
Dylan Matthews and Jerusalem Demsas are joined by Vox senior correspondent Zack Beauchamp to talk about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They discuss Ukraine’s surprising strength to date, plus Europe’s and America’s overwhelming economic response to the invasion. Plus, a white paper about how citizens in authoritarian regimes think about war. References: Vox’s podcast playlist: What to know about Russia and Ukraine All of Vox’s wr...
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February 25, 2022 1 min
We’re hitting snooze on Friday episodes, but they’re not going away forever. We’re just slowing things down while we work on some special projects. We’ll see you on Tuesday! Important Links: Send us an email at weeds@vox.com  Check out The Weeds Facebook group Sign up for our newsletter at vox.com/weedsletter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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Dylan Matthews, Jerusalem Demsas, and Dara Lind discuss the recent school board recall election in San Francisco and also whether the Great Resignation is boosting inflation. References: Clara Jeffery's summary of why the recall succeeded Former Green Party mayoral nominee Matt Gonzalez’s case for the recall Former board president Gabriela López's post-mortem after she was recalled López’s 2021 interview with the New Y...
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February 18, 2022 59 min
Vox Senior Correspondent Zack Beauchamp talks with political scientist Lee Drutman, author of Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop. They discuss the history of the two-party system in American politics, and examine a number of possible structural reforms that could work to get the U.S. out of the morass it's in, looking to several other countries' democracies for inspiration. Host: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), Senior Co...
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February 15, 2022 60 min
Dylan Matthews and Jerusalem Demsas are joined by Vox’s Andrew Prokop (@awprokop) to talk about the midterm elections. More specifically, why the president’s party almost always loses seats in Congress. They discuss the theories of this phenomenon and what, if anything, can work on the margins. Plus, a white paper about Obamacare and the 2010 midterm elections. References: Why the president’s party almost always has a bad mid...
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Dylan Matthews talks with Victor Cha (@VictorDCha) about the international politics surrounding the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The US and several other countries are boycotting the games to protest China’s human rights record, which brings up the question: What does this boycott mean for US-China relations? References: Beyond the Final Score by Victor Cha  Cha on the politicization of the 2022 Games Vox’s Jen Kirby on the Biden...
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Dylan Matthews, Dara Lind, and Jerusalem Demsas talk about affirmative action. They dig into the current Supreme Court case about Harvard’s admission rates and ask: How do we make sure our elite institutions adequately reflect the population? Plus, a white paper about the effects of education on mortality. References: Vox senior correspondent Ian Millhiser’s explainer about the SCOTUS cases Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler, and...
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Dylan Matthews talks with Mark Galeotti (@MarkGaleotti), director of Mayak Intelligence, about what’s going on in Ukraine. They discuss in depth the historical tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Russia’s NATO problem, and the calculations and motivations behind President Vladimir Putin’s moves. References: Today, Explained’s episode about Ukraine's pipeline problem  Vox’s Jen Kirby wrote an explainer about Russia-Ukrai...
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