Analysis & Comment

Opinion | What’s Keeping Biden’s Chief of Staff Up at Night?

‘Everything’ — except, apparently, the midterms.

Produced by ‘Sway’

As the White House chief of staff, Ron Klain helps determine how the president spends scarce resources like time and political capital.

Kara Swisher interviews him five months into the job — at a moment when the country is shy of President Biden’s July 4 vaccine target and the administration has just averted the unraveling of a bipartisan infrastructure deal that still has to crawl through a polarized Congress. Kara presses Klain on whether the president’s ambitious agenda and focus on bipartisanship will succeed — or whether infrastructure will be “Biden’s Obamacare,” costing Democrats their majority in the House and the Senate in 2022. Klain notes, “There’ll be obviously more of a time and a place for the focus on the politics of 2022,” but “the best way we can do well in 2022 is to get things done in 2021.”

[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

The conversation also dives into the pandemic response, the Delta variant and how social media platforms are petri dishes of pandemic misinformation. And when Klain describes a recent conversation with Mark Zuckerberg and complains about Facebook and other platforms not doing more to combat misinformation, Kara is quick to press him on what the Biden administration plans to do to regulate tech giants. After all, she reminds him, “you’re the government.”

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Thoughts? Email us at [email protected].

“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong and Daphne Chen, and edited by Nayeema Raza and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Erick Gomez; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Liriel Higa.

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