How a Fight Over Economics Could Shape the GOP’s Post-Trump Future

Aug 05, 2021

Over the past few months, a handful of Republican lawmakers have embraced economic policies that, not long ago, would have been unthinkable in the GOP.

In February, Sens. Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton — past and likely future Republican presidential candidates, respectively — introduced a bill proposing a path to a $10 minimum wage. The following month, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced his support for an Amazon unionization effort in Alabama. Elsewhere, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley has pushed far-reaching antitrust bills that have made traditional conservatives shudder, and the bestselling author-turned-Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance has called for raising taxes on companies that send jobs overseas.

The emergence of the new economic counterculture is loosely connected to the two-year-old think tank, American Compass, whose founder, the Harvard-trained lawyer and former Bain consultant Oren Cass, routinely derides his adversaries as “market fundamentalists” peddling “stale pieties” from the 1980s. Cass left the free-market Manhattan Institute in 2019 to launch American Compass, the first right-of-center think tank dedicated to pushing the government to get more, rather than less, involved in national economic policy in order to help advance a certain set of social and cultural goals — a view Cass and his ilk have termed “common good capitalism.” The group’s mission: “To restore an economic consensus that emphasizes the importance of family, community, and industry to the nation’s liberty and prosperity.”

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