Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is right: the country needs economic patriotism. But, that’s not what Warren is offering in her campaign to become the 46th president.
In a recent speech for her ailing campaign, the Democratic senator who is fond of telling American entrepreneurs that they “didn’t build” their businesses, made the case for Trumpist economics. Warren argued that “giant ‘American’ corporations who control our economy” are not “grateful” for the opportunities that the United States has given them. She then went on to list a series of U.S. corporations that have uprooted from this country and moved overseas to produce their goods on the cheap (thereby creating jobs in places like Mexico, Canada, China, or India while denuding the once-vital American manufacturing towns of any hope).
In a bit that sounded more like a riff from the gonzo political strategist, Steven K. Bannon, Warren sounded off on the dangers of what’s known as “Shareholder Capitalism.” Senator Warren rightly decried how these “American” corporations (where, at least one-third of the investors are, in fact, foreigners) have only one loyalty: “to the short-term interests of their shareholders.” Warren then castigated her fellow politicians by arguing that they “love to say they care about American jobs. But for decades, those same politicians have cited ‘free market principles’ and refused to intervene in markets on behalf of American workers.”
Similarly, Warren posits that these same political leaders who stand on their beloved principles when sticking it to the American worker, have no qualms about providing corporate welfare to protect “the interests of multinational corporations and international capital.” As Tucker Carlson recently argued, Warren sounded more like Donald Trump in 2016 than anything else. Her attacks on supposed “free” trade and globalization are sure to galvanize a sizable number of Americans — particularly those “deplorables” of rural America who the Democratic Party callously abandoned in 2016.
So, what’s the deal? Is Elizabeth Warren about to shock everyone by running as Donald Trump in a purple pantsuit? Try as she might, she cannot defy her true nature. What is Warren’s true nature? It’s an insatiable lust for centralized state power. Sure, Warren can claim that she cares for workers — and she may very well believe she represents their interests — but there is little in Warren’s background that lends itself to economic nationalism. In fact, there is much to suggest that her lofty rhetoric — as welcome as it is compared to the Democratic Party’s otherwise loony political discourse — is a mere smokescreen for a blatant power grab.
Power… Unlimited Power!
Warren’s new plan calls for the creation of a “unified Department of Economic Development that would combine the functions of the Commerce Department with the Small Business Administration, the Patent and Trademark office, various job training and R&D programs scattered around the bureaucracy, and the export and trade agencies including the Office of the US Trade Representative […] the new Department will have a single goal: creating and defending good American jobs.” Those of us who support the economic nationalist message salivate at talk like that.
Yet, the Marxist devil is in the details.
Warren’s new bureaucracy would not be easy to create and, once in place, there would be little preventing it from stymying true economic growth or from harming the interests of average American workers just as the corporations have. You see, Warren has also fused her call for “economic patriotism” with the odious “Green New Deal” that Democratic Party radicals, like the avowed socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have been advocating.
The great question is: Who would choose which American jobs are “good” enough to “defend”? If it’s Warren and her fellow Democrats, given their embrace of the Green New Deal — which is an economic dead-endfor this country — you can bet that the same people Hillary Clinton referredto as hopeless “deplorables” in 2016, today’s Trump voters, would continue to get the shaft under Warren’s new plan.
Matthew Yglesias of Vox assesses that Senator Warren’s version of the Green New Deal has three parts: a Green Apollo Program, a Green Marshall Plan, and a Green Industrial Mobilization. The first part is supposed to help with federal research and development into alternative energy sources while the second part is to assist foreign countries in purchasing American-produced “Green” products, while the third part “proposes a massive $1.5 trillion federal procurement initiative over 10 years to buy ‘American-made clean, renewable, and emission free products for federal, state, and local use and for export.’” Yglesias correctly states, “That’s roughly the scale of federal spending on defense acquisition.”
Yet, even environmentalists, such as the founder of the Green Peace Movement (and others), have argued that the Green New Deal is both impractical and wasteful. For example, renewable energy, regardless of the amount of taxpayer dollars invested, cannot replace non-renewable fuels (oil and natural gas) in any cost-effective or efficient way.
In fact, as I’ve long argued, the only viable alternative is in the construction of nuclear fission plants with an additional massive investment in the development of nuclear fusion reactors. This is, of course, something that the Democratic Party has steadfastly ruled out. Meanwhile, carbon capture, which is meant to curb purported carbon pollution, will not receive funding under Warren’s new program because, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ignorantly declared earlier this year, the technology is “not feasible.”
The Costs of Warren’s Ambition
Meanwhile, every country that has embraced a “green” economy has suffered through staggeringly high levels of unemployment and economic deterioration. In Spain, for every three traditional manufacturing jobs lost in the green economy, only one new job was created — and many of those new jobs were of higher skills and were very often filled by immigrants. These same patterns played out all across the Western world.
If Warren — or anyone like her — were to be elected president, we would not get a more effective economic nationalist policy agenda. Instead, we’d get the old bait-and-switch that neoliberal politicians have been foisting upon us for decades: Warren likes to talk a big game about protecting workers and then she’ll enact policies that do the exact opposite.
Meet The New Boss (Same As the Old Ones)
At the end of the day, Warren’s plans have little to do with protecting workers and everything to do with increasing government power while ensuring greater levels of rent-seeking from corporate interests.
Under President Donald Trump, unlike under former President Barack Obama (who also advocated for “economic patriotism” during his successful 2012 reelection bid), the U.S. economy has soared to historic levels. Unemployment has dipped to its lowest point since the 1960s — even in the manufacturing sector, which most politicians had written off. Further, employment levels have exponentially increased to historic levels for minority communities, due to Trump’s policies.
None of these milestones could have been achieved (in just a few short years) under Elizabeth Warren (or any modern Democrat). Tell the Democrats heading into 2020: we won’t get fooled again by their lies.