Don’t Give Up on Bringing Manufacturing Back to the U.S.

Jun 15, 2020

More than three years ago, Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to bring U.S. manufacturing back from China. Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Trump’s economic expansion — which became the longest on record — didn’t even manage to restore all the manufacturing jobs lost in the Time of Shedding and Cold Rocks, much less reverse the declines of the previous decade…

[Moving the Chains], a policy plan released by the new think tank American Compass, has collected a number of big ideas aimed at making the U.S. a manufacturing powerhouse once again.

Abandoning the gospel of free trade and embracing industrial policy is a huge leap for the political right; it’s a stance more typical of left-leaning thinkers aligned with organized labor. [Moving the Chains]’s authors give a number of justifications for this tectonic shift. First, they cite the traditional concerns of U.S. national security and soft power. They also mention resilience to global supply-chain shocks — a weakness of the traditional free-trade system that was glaringly exposed by the coronavirus shutdowns. Finally, they assert that bringing supply chains back within the U.S. is useful for productivity and innovation.

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