Readying the War State: Biden Recommits to Protectionism in the SOTU
As it always does, the State of the Union (SOTU) address dominated the media cycle for several days before and after. Now that the period has (gratefully) passed, and the issues raised have faded from the headlines into the background, it is worth taking a look at some of the policies that featured heavily in Biden’s speech, and which have reemerged to become so vogue among both Democrats and Republicans.
Indeed, with practically the only bipartisan moments of applause during Biden’s SOTU coming after the predictable paeans to the great moral virtues of “Buying American,” the protectionism made mainstream by Trump looks set to continue.
So how are these efforts faring?
Further, why have the policy, business, and political establishment suddenly climbed on board, as is evidenced by Biden’s wholesale adoption?
Let’s start with the latter: why, with the American public having been generally somewhere between lukewarm to resistant to so-called “free trade” deals for over thirty years, have the decision-making elite of both parties finally come around?
For example, as he spoke the other night, tying the nation’s loss of “pride and self-worth” to “the loss of manufacturing jobs,” ignoring the dubious causal link, one must ask as a supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and increased trade with China whether Joe Biden really is senile, stupid, or thinks we’re stupid.
The politically opportunistic choices of Biden’s speechwriters aside, and the general lack of commitment to firm principles, which more than anything else has so defined Biden’s six-decade career as a politician, a confluence of other factors have combined to essentially see the field ceded to the protectionists of both parties and their respective interest groups.
First, Hillary Clinton’s abandonment of her own free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, on her way to losing the White House showed domestic political resistance was becoming increasingly costly to overcome.
Second, and relatedly, the strategy of trading American manufacturing jobs for geostrategic advantage was beginning to run the other way; first covid and then the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw massive supply shortages and exposed critical weaknesses in global capitalism’s i
Article from Mises Wire