Log in
Forgot password ?
Become a member for free
Sign up
Sign up
New member
Sign up for FREE
New customer
Discover our services
Dynamic quotes 

MarketScreener Homepage  >  News  >  Economy & Forex  >  All News

News : Economy & Forex
Latest NewsCompaniesMarketsEconomy & ForexCommoditiesInterest RatesBusiness LeadersFinance Pro.CalendarSectors 
All NewsEconomyCurrencies / ForexCryptocurrenciesEconomic EventsPress releases

Joe Biden's Search for That Elusive Economic Consensus -- Update

share with twitter share with LinkedIn share with facebook
07/13/2020 | 05:32pm EDT

By Gerald F. Seib

Presidential campaigns are mostly about defining differences between candidates, but they can be even more interesting when they reveal a search for a middle ground, or an emerging national consensus.

So it is with the economic policy of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, which he is fleshing out step by step during these hot weeks of the coronavirus summer. He is being pushed to the left by his own party, but is trying hard not to be pushed too far. He is taking bits from former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama -- and yes, from current President Donald Trump as well.

As is his wont, Mr. Biden is trying to identify a new center on taxes, and adapt to what may be emerging as a new national consensus on trade. He has been forced to move away from where he once was, but not as far away as some in his own party would like him to be.

"I've kind of tried to shed the labels and focus on the nuts and bolts of this," Mr. Biden said in a conversation with a few journalists Monday. Last week, he laid out the first big installment of his economic plans, a "buy American" proposal to use $700 billion in government buying power to purchase U.S. goods and give research and development help to manufacturers -- an initiative with some distinctly Trumpian "America first" overtones.

Coming soon are more traditionally Democratic plans to help workers with child and family care, and address racial inequalities in the economy -- as well as a big proposal to improve the nation's infrastructure.

Mr. Biden argues that America has arrived, in this summer of discontent, at a place where big government investments are needed to keep up with disruptions in technologies, supply chains and the workforce.

"I think we're at a different place in history here," he said. "This whole notion of a fourth industrial revolution is real.... Unless we adjust how we deal with it we're going to be left behind."

He is proposing new taxes to pay for much, though not yet all, of this. On corporate taxes, he calls for a 28% rate -- precisely halfway between the rate before Mr. Trump, when it stood at 35%, and where it stands now, 21%. He proposes raising the top personal tax rate to 39.6%, the rate under Mr. Clinton, but nowhere near the higher top rate some progressives in his party favor.

And Mr. Biden moves further toward those progressives on other details: He would raise capital-gains taxes, deploy a broader corporate tax base, eliminate some tax deductions for wealthier Americans and impose a new Social Security tax that would kick in at high income levels.

Perhaps more interesting, Mr. Biden appears to be reflecting a new center ground on trade and economic nationalism.

Back in his 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump both identified and solidified a changed national mood on trade, one that reflected the breakdown of what had been a bipartisan consensus in favor of free trade.

As president he pulled the plug on the North American Free Trade Agreement before negotiating a new version. He also ditched the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trans-Asia free-trade deal, and declared that the U.S. made a mistake by allowing China to join the World Trade Organization and granting it permanent normal trade status.

Though he did oppose some free-trade proposals in the Senate, Mr. Biden voted for the big ones: Nafta and for permanent normal trade relations with China. And, as vice president under Mr. Obama, he supported the TPP. In short, he largely reflected what had been the bipartisan consensus on trade.

But now the center has shifted, and Mr. Biden has moved with it. He has said that, as president, he would renegotiate the TPP rather than simply reinstate it.

He also would use federal buying power and the tax code to encourage companies to move their supply chains back to the U.S. That proposal smacks of a new consensus, born of the coronavirus crisis, that America has become too dependent on China for critical goods and supplies. More broadly, the Biden initiative also reflects a new bipartisan, cross-ideological feeling about boosting manufacturers.

Conservatives long recoiled at any hint of an "industrial policy," arguing that providing help to specific industries meant harmful interference with free markets. Now, a new wave of young conservative thinkers explicitly argue for helping American manufacturers.

For his part, Mr. Biden argues the time is ripe for a new public-private economic partnership. "Even the folks who aren't crazy about me on Wall Street are looking and saying, 'You know, if we actually make these kind of investments in infrastructure and in the future of the American economy, it can benefit everybody.' I think there's a real shot. I honest to God do."

Write to Gerald F. Seib at jerry.seib@wsj.com


share with twitter share with LinkedIn share with facebook
Latest news "Economy & Forex"
04:02aTESCO : calls for deforestation-free food in the UK
03:37aCENTRAL BANK OF SRI LANKA : Open Market Operations - 05 August 2020
03:17aBEAMA FEDERATION OF BRITISH ELECTROTECHNICAL AND : hopes that the Green Homes Grant scheme can be the start of long-term plan for high quality green refurbishment of UK homes
03:16aNEWS HIGHLIGHTS : Top Company News of the Day
03:16aNEWS HIGHLIGHTS : Top Global Markets News of the Day
03:06aS.Korean stocks firm on U.S. stimulus deal hopes; won closes at 5-mth high
03:00aEU effort to stem African migration leaves some ex-smugglers empty handed
02:56aPakistan set to award LNG tender for the first time to Posco - sources
02:48aWHAT'S NEWS : World-Wide
02:48aWHAT'S NEWS : Business & Finance -- WSJ
Latest news "Economy & Forex"