July 20, 2020

Since the release of his economic plan earlier this month, the constant line of attack from the Trump administration and their enablers on Fox "news" has been either a) Biden stole or "plagiarized" Trump's America first plan, or b) Biden has been completely co-opted by the "far left' of the party such as AOC and Bernie Sanders, and his plan is really a secret socialist plot to wreck Trump's beautiful economy that will magically come right back as soon as COVID-19 "magically disappears."

CNN's Fareed Zakaria opened his show this Sunday by reading from his op-ed from earlier this week in The Washington Post, and explained to his viewers how the plans differ, and why Biden's plan is a "better way to do 'America First.'"

The climate change plan is ambitious and forward-thinking, but more interesting is the economic plan, which promises “to ensure the future is ‘made in all of America.’ ” That sounds like an America First agenda, and sure enough, President Trump accused Biden of stealing his ideas. But in fact, while the plan is politically clever in moving directly onto Trump’s turf of economic nationalism, it is much better than the president’s approach.

First and most important is what the plan does not do. It is not a mercantilist call for tariffs and trade wars, hallmarks of the Trump presidency. These Trump policies have failed by any measure. [...]

The Biden plan’s boldest idea is to massively ramp up investment in research and development. Biden proposes raising spending by $300 billion over four years, which represents a 60 percent increase over 2018 spending. If enacted, this would reverse the steady decline in federal investment in science and technology since its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. (To get to those levels would still require hundreds of billions more.) Those investments led to the personal computer, the Internet, the Global Positioning System and a host of other technologies that have transformed the economy. [...]

The best model is not for government to set up or subsidize specific companies or industries, but to let the market know that it will buy certain kinds of innovative products, which then gives the private sector an incentive to produce them. [...] Biden rightly wants to emulate this approach to support today’s breakthrough technologies, though key agencies in the federal government in those days were more efficient and operated with far greater insulation from special interests.

As Democrats have noted, Trump has lost the trade war with China, and his decision to make that central to his campaign has now become a liability.

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