Elizabeth Warren just put out a big plan to remake trade policy.
There’s a lot to like in here. A thread.👇
For decades, America’s trade policy has put the profits of big multinational corporations ahead of American workers, farmers, and the environment. I have a new approach: Trade on our terms and only when it benefits American families. Here’s my plan. https://medium.com/@teamwarren/trade-on-our-terms-ad861879feca …
First, she rightly recognizes that a progressive trade message must distinguish itself from both Trump and the neoliberal Democrats who came before.
Second, she admits that doing this will be hard work — which is real talk for an electorate that has been promised quick fixes by Trump that have mostly fallen flat or misfired.
Third, she recognizes that a lot of what’s wrong with trade policy stems from the overwhelming over-representation of business interests in the process. She promises to exactly invert that, numerically favoring non-business interests on the advisory committees.
Fourth, she has a set of preconditions for who will we negotiate trade deals with. Enforcement on the back end is a lot easier when you screen out obviously bad actors on the front end.
Fifth, there’e a strong and consistent linkage to climate goals. She advocates for a new WTO agreement to shield countries’ environmental policies from challenge.
As I’ve written elsewhere, this threat is real. So if you care about trade, climate, or both — it’s good to get out in front of it. (washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/…) Sixth, she recognizes that the US is often the bad actor at the negotiating table — advocating e.g. for Big Pharma over affordable healthcare.
Indeed, she notes that a lot of the so-called “innovation” in recent trade pacts has ridiculously little to do with traditional trade policy — and is a handout to trade restricting monopolists. And it’s the US’ fault — under both Obama and Trump.
There are a few areas where this plan could be even better. First, I’d love to see an explicit link to the Green New Deal. I’ve called, for instance, to repurpose the WTO to actually enforce a GND — not just gently permit deviations from WTO norms. (papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…) Second, I think there’s more we can do on enforcement. Warren wants to entirely gut investors’ ability to sue governments, and (in a novel step) in its place create commissions to recommend government-to-government cases.
I understand that; it’s consistent with her past comments. However, a lesson from the scholarship on international judicialization is that more robust rule generation and innovation comes when you let non-governmental actors (al partly) drive the process. (papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…) As I argued in my book, unions and environmentalists will be more motivated to sue and make good arguments than cautious government bureaucrats concerned with win rates and diplomatic considerations. So I’d “yes, and” on the rights given to investors. (amazon.com/Judge-Knot-Dev…) Overall, this is a fruitful direction. And — as @mattyglesias has written — trade will be important in the primary, trade is something presidents can do a lot on unilaterally, and these ideas will further distinguish her in a crowded field. (vox.com/2019/7/29/8933…)