Elizabeth Warren has put ‘economic patriotism’ at the center of her campaign and is justifiably noted for having a plethora of detailed policy proposals.
But on Tuesday night she would not say whether she supported President Donald Trump’s tariffs to protect U.S. steel production.
The metals tariffs were put in place in early 2018, one of the Trump administration’s first and still most important major changes to American trade policy. The administration said that the tariffs were necessary to keep U.S. aluminum and steel producers economically viable at a time when Chinese overproduction had depressed prices around the globe.
Warren’s rhetorical stance is very similar to Donald Trump’s. But the details of her economic patriotism are at times elusive. She wants to impose strict requirements for foreign access to U.S. markets but has not said what she will do about countries that do not meet her requirements.
Faced with a very specific question about the steel tariffs, Warren chose instead to focus on generalties and Trumpian rhetoric:
For decades we have had a trade policy that has been written by giant multinational corporations to help giant multinational corporations. They have no loyalty to America. They have no patriotism. If they can save a nickel by moving a job to Mexico, they’ll do it in a heart beat. If they can save a polluting plant by moving it to Vietnam, they’ll do it in a heart beat.
I have put out a new, comprehensive plan that says we’re not going to do it that way. We’re going to negotiate our deals with unions at the table, with small businesses at the table, with small farmers at the table, with environmentalists at the table, with human rights activists at the table. And then we’re going to use the fact that everybody in the world wants to get to America’s markets.
Given a second chance to respond to the question, Warren again retreated to rhetoric.
“Right now the whole game is working for the big multinationals. It’s just not working for the people here in the United States and we can change that,” Warren said.
That’s a welcome change from the globalism that once-dominated national politics. But it left Democratic voters with the still unanswered question: would Warren support the steel and aluminum tariffs?