New Direction

Conservative Principles & Policies for the 118th Congress

Four consecutive election cycles have confirmed both the opportunity for conservatives to build a durable governing majority and the impossibility of accomplishing this without a clear economic vision and a serious policy agenda. The dog-eared 1980s playbook of tax cuts, free trade, and more tax cuts is being cast aside, but the result is often an empty shelf. American Compass is the think tank developing a conservative economic agenda to supplant a blind faith in free markets with a focus on the interests of workers, their families and communities, and the nation. With New Direction, we present an overview of the conservative economic principles that should guide policymakers and a robust set of proposals for translating those principles into action.

Conservative Economics

Family, community, and industry are vital to the nation’s liberty and prosperity.

Productive Markets illustration

Productive Markets

Capitalism only works when the rules of the game align pursuit of profit with investment in domestic production and employment. If capital earns greater returns from speculating, offshoring, and monopolizing than from building, hiring, and innovating, public policy must respond. Read More

Supportive Communities illustration

Supportive Communities

Individuals only flourish when shaped and supported by their families, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, labor unions, churches, and more. Public policies and economic forces play powerful roles in reinforcing or eroding the foundations of these institutions, which are essential to liberty and prosperity. Read More

Responsive Politics illustration

Responsive Politics

Economists have misread economic conditions, prompting a justified populist backlash. Most Americans prioritize dignified work, self-sufficiency, and solidarity over unconstrained consumption. Policymakers must understand and respect the nation’s frustrations and aspirations to serve it effectively. Read More

Our Policy Proposals

Our work explores what has gone wrong in America’s economy, why, and how we can recover.

1. Reshoring Industry

Economists cheered as manufacturing moved offshore, forgetting that innovation and productivity would follow. How can we rebuild America’s industrial base?

Industry illustration

In this essay, American Compass’s Oren Cass explains the mistaken economic assumptions that caused industry to flee the nation’s shores and the trade policy needed to bring it back.

This symposium brings together experts from different fields and across the political spectrum to propose nine strategies for restoring American leadership in industry and innovation.

2. Building Non-College Pathways

As student debt cancellation makes plain, our nation’s “college-for-all” system has failed. How can we build strong non-college pathways that will better serve the majority of Americans?

Education illustration

In this policy paper, American Compass’s Oren Cass proposes a new public program and funding model for shifting resources from higher education to employer-led training.

This symposium brings together a wide range of scholars and practitioners to propose concrete policy reforms to help develop effective non-college pathways into the workforce.

3. Supporting Families

The American family is under unprecedented pressure. How can we go beyond the usual rhetoric and create policies that will provide families with meaningful public support?

Families illustration

In this policy paper, American Compass’s Oren Cass and Wells King present a comprehensive framework for providing a monthly per-child benefit to support working families.

This collection of essays and research highlights the indispensable role of the family, the many priorities of American families, and areas in which public policy must be more supportive.

4. Decoupling from China

Decades of misguided globalization have weakened America’s economy and security. How can we disentangle our future from the Chinese Communist Party’s?

Globalization illustration

This policy paper provides the definitive guide to the tools available for channeling productively the uncontrolled cross-border flows of goods, capital, and people unleashed by globalization.

This collection of essays and research makes the comprehensive case against the failed globalization of recent decades and proposes a robust range of alternative policies to pursue.

5. Representing Workers

American labor unions have become partisan political operations that serve few workers well. How can workers achieve meaningful power in the market and representation on the job?

Labor illustration

In this policy paper, American Compass’s Chris Griswold proposes labor law reforms that would give workers access to non-union works councils in the workplace and seats on corporate boards.

This collection of essays and research explores both the failures of organized labor in American and the vital role that a strong labor movement must play in a well-functioning capitalist system.

6. Governing Big Tech

Every technological revolution brings new challenges that only public policy can address. What tools do we need to govern effectively in the Information Era?

Tech illustration

This proposal calls for the creation of a publicly operated tool to provide secure, private proof-of-age online that would permit robust enforcement of age restrictions for harmful online platforms.

This collection of debates on addictive social media, the gig economy, and intrusive algorithms highlights a novel series of challenges that policymakers must learn how to address.

7. Rekindling Investment

The finance industry keeps growing, yet productive investment keeps falling. How can we ensure that pursuit of profit in financial markets also advances the common good?

Productive Markets illustration

In this essay, American Compass’s Oren Cass explains how the finance industry’s explosive growth has weakened the American economy by reducing productive investment.

This policy paper describes the dysfunction on Wall Street that has channeled capital away from productive investment and proposes a series of reforms for strengthening financial markets.

8. Understanding America

American Compass conducts innovative survey research that produces unique insights into conditions in the American economy and the priorities and values of American families.

Understanding America illustration

This survey contrasts the career-oriented priorities of high-income households with the preference in most families for having a parent stay home with young children.

This survey finds that young adults and their parents want public education to emphasize non-college pathways and help people build decent lives in the communities where they live.

Browse Our Library

Find more of our research, essays, and policy proposals.

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