Do you like your trade politics scrambled?

Over the weekend, Warren came out in favor of the new NAFTA/USMCA. This is going to make the next few weeks very interesting. Thread (…)

Warren has long made removal of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) her signature “trade” issue. The argument: when investors can sue governments over regulation, you get less of it and you offshore jobs. Her solution: take it out of trade deals. (…) Here’s Warren after Trump renegotiated NAFTA in 2018: “Trump’s deal won’t stop the serious and ongoing harm NAFTA causes for American workers. It won’t stop outsourcing, it won’t raise wages, and it won’t create jobs. It’s NAFTA 2.0.” (…)

The problem: by that time, Trump had largely already come over to the Warren position on ISDS. (*But see below). So on her main marker, it was Donald Trump — not Richard Trumka or Nancy Pelosi — that had already delivered over a year ago. (…)

Over the course of 2019, the Warren camp seemed to realize a need for a proactive rather than subtractive vision for trade. She put out numerous plans on green industrial policy and trade that went far beyond anything we’ve seen put out by a candidate. (…) All of these plans laid out new benchmarks-ones that clearly distinguished from Trump’s mixture of nationalist rhetoric with largely status quo ante trade policies. They give Warren dozens of ways to break from other Dems & point out ways USMCA fell short.

Todd N. Tucker✔@toddntucker

· Jul 30, 2019

So the worry seems to be about an extrapolation of what the below passage means: what are the preconditions past and future trade agreement partners would have to meet.

Note these are all good things (Paris!) and many of our trading partners are further along than the US.

Indeed, a close look at USMCA reveals a host of seeming conflicts with Warren priorities. It enshrines pro-monopoly positions like this (…) And this (…) It reinforces a 1990s approach to regulation that — if followed — would limit policymakers’ ability to do big structural change (…) Moreover, the 2019 improvements were about process — not outcomes — and mostly about process in Mexico, not the US. The smart policy ideas coming out of this race rightly focus on outcomes

Todd N. Tucker✔@toddntucker

Mayor Pete has bold ideas on rebuilding labor power in the 21st century.

There’s lots in here, but to me, the biggest innovation is an outcome focus (e.g. a target of DOUBLING union density).

Too often, labor ideas are all about process (you get a union if you try real hard). …

*And while Trump scaled back ISDS, he left it in place for US fossil fuel investors in Mexico. The message: ISDS is actually needed in extractive sectors with long-term capital investments. (…) This is why environmental groups opposed the new NAFTA — both the 2018 and 2019 versions. (…) According to polling by @DataProgress, voters really didn’t like the failure to address climate change in the agreement. (…) In coming out in favor, Warren aligns herself with Biden and Klobuchar, and against Sanders, who had a very Warren circa-2018 take on the deal. (…) She also puts herself apart from the leaders of the House Progressive Caucus, the Squad, and a number of her House endorsers.

CPC @WeBuildProgress Co-Chairs @RepJayapal @MarkPocan were nays.

As was CPC Emeritus Chair @RepBarbaraLee — no stranger to tough votes.

As where all four members of “The Squad” are nays — @AOC, @IlhanMN, @AyannaPressley, and @RashidaTlaib.


4:36 PM — Dec 19, 2019

What happens now? First, Trump and the GOP will claim on his signature issue that Warren agrees with them. Their message has been that Dems created uncertainty by delaying the vote for political reasons for a year on something they ended up agreeing with.

Todd N. Tucker✔@toddntucker

I watched the whole proceeding, and this was totally one of the throughlines. …

The message that most Dems are leaning on — that it was a horrible deal in 2018 until they got improvements in 2019 — will be hard to run on. Presidents get the credit for deals made under their watch, and nuance will be lost. Especially with Trump.

Todd N. Tucker✔@toddntucker

A few topline takeaways while we wait for the USMCA vote

1. The GOP absolutely has their message lined up: Trump is great, USMCA is great, promises kept, and every day of delay helped China.
2. The Dems, not so much. …

Second, and most crucially for the next month, this NAFTA flip will further cement skepticism on the left about Warren’s foreign policies. (…) Sanders has already taken the gloves off in going after other candidates on trade. And in this phase of the race, trade will now be a further way he can differentiate himself from the whole field. (…)

Warren has great plans that show a deep sense of how to turn around the administrative state for progressive ends. But plans and messages must feed each other.

Todd N. Tucker✔@toddntucker

Major new @ewarren plan on fighting global financial corruption. Nicely ties together the global *and* local nature of the problem. …

To be fair, this whole situation was set into motion the second Trump stepped into the 2016 race and then appointed operators like Bob Lighthizer to execute on his political vision. They rightly calculated that trade was a way to split Dems. It worked. Is the latest statement a gamble that trade politics have gotten so scrambled that there’s no upside to any position and voters won’t pay attention? Maybe. But that backfired for Dems last time in the states that count. END (…)

(Taken from this thread.)



Director, Industrial Policy & Trade, Roosevelt Institute / Roosevelt Forward. Teach, Johns Hopkins. PhD. Political scientist researching economic transitions.

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Todd N. Tucker

Director, Industrial Policy & Trade, Roosevelt Institute / Roosevelt Forward. Teach, Johns Hopkins. PhD. Political scientist researching economic transitions.