Anyone searching for an economic road map to the Biden presidency might find hints of one in a 40-page research paper written, appropriately enough, by the United Automobile Workers union. The document, originally published in 2018 and titled “Taking the High Road: Strategies for a Fair E.V. Future,” argued that even in the face of foreign competition, the American automobile industry could continue to provide well-paying manufacturing jobs — but only if the government invested huge sums in electric vehicles.
But if Biden and his more activist advisers are able to make good on their promises, the White House’s economic policy over the next four years will look very different from that of the most recent Democratic administration. They hope to modernize key industries and counter an economic threat from China, swiftly emerging as the world’s other superpower. They may even scramble political coalitions at home. “There are a lot of areas of potential overlap,” says Oren Cass, a former Republican policy aide and the founder of American Compass, which pushes to make conservatism more worker-friendly. Cass, whose research and advocacy group has argued for rebuilding manufacturing and reducing Wall Street’s influence over the economy, adds: “There’s a hypothetical governing majority to be drawn around the things we’re talking about that doesn’t exist within either party.”
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A prominent public role in R&D, business subsidies, and restrictions that keep both knowledge and production within our borders are not incompatible with rapid economic growth and technological progress.
How Industrial Policy Made the Desert Bloom
A case study on the public investments behind the Israeli economic miracle
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American Compass policy advisor Gabriela Rodriguez discusses the Jones Act, shipping and supply chains, and striking a balance between national security and consumer interests.