What to make of Elizabeth Warren’s (@ewarren) latest trade & industrial policy plans?
In this new piece @TheNation, I argue they’re as much about a theory of deploying public power to contain corporate predation as they are about discrete policy fixes. (thenation.com/article/elizab…) As the senator said in last night’s debates, “Anyone who thinks that these trade deals are mostly about tariffs just doesn’t understand what’s going on.” (politico.com/newsletters/mo…)
That’s why most of the trade plan is about things we don’t typically think of as trade, like safeguarding environmental regulation, better anti-trust rules, and bringing down the cost of pharmaceuticals — all agendas limited by modern trade deals. (medium.com/@teamwarren/tr…) The plan got flak from folks that said this undermines Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy (it doesn’t)
I cowrote a book comparing Nixon and FDR’s trade policy and Zach is correct. Even allowing that Cordell Hull regularly was an outlier in the New Deal, the overall thrust was radically different from the world Nixon thru Obama built. https://twitter.com/zachdcarter/status/1156242843985424384 …
And that it would lead to higher tariffs or shredded trade deals with nothing in their place (it wouldn’t).
Not sure I would criticize as protectionist a plan whose through line is bashing protectionism and basically doesn’t dwell at all on tariffs. Warren’s plan mentions tariffs six times. Three are in this para, which bashes Trump’s tariffs. https://twitter.com/dandrezner/status/1156177436574400514 …
Indeed, the list of policy changes themselves are not particularly radical, as close trade observers like @sdonnan have noted.
Share your unpopular opinion: The Warren trade plan actually doesn’t seem that radical.
There’s a few unrealistic things in there (folding USTR into a new Dept would likely be blocked by Congress). But this reminds me of Obama trade plans (renegotiate NAFTA!) circa 2007. https://twitter.com/sdonnan/status/1155906993225424898 …
And to the extent her plan might lead to fewer new trade deals, that’s not in itself a bad thing, as @geoffreygertz notes.
8. But what I see as the overall thrust of the policy — FTAs have become about special interests, we’re instead going to prioritize labor, environment, consumer welfare, and if that means fewer FTAs so be it — seems like a move in the right direction. /end
I personally am more interested to see how the industrial policy part develops. Trade talks are time consuming and even with perfect terms are a pretty indirect way of accomplishing real world positive outcomes (like higher union density). As I argue in a report released yesterday, there’s a real opening to push racially inclusive, environmentally sustainable industrial policy like the Green New Deal — and to do so democratically, as opposed to through authoritarianism (like China).
Everybody from Elizabeth Warren to Marco Rubio is talking about industrial policy.
“Isn’t that something from the 1980s?” and “Is this the white male manufacturing policy thing?”, you ask.
Wrong and wrong. My new report explains why. Thread