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Biden really is Trump 2.0, not surprisingly



Biden really is Trump 2.0, not surprisingly

According to press reports, the Biden administration is about to announce a fourfold increase in the tariff (a tax on US importers) on electric cars made in China. He may also announce other Trumpian tariffs (“Biden wants to quadruple tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles,” Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2024). That wouldn’t be surprising.

In a Regulation two years ago I predicted that Biden would be Trump 2.0 (“Joe Biden’s Economic Agenda: An Early Assessment”, Spring 2021). I wrote:

In general, the basis of Biden’s economic approach appears to be the belief (largely shared by Trump) that voluntary exchange among free individuals cannot be counted on to guarantee economic prosperity and individual flourishing. This is perhaps most evident in international trade, where Biden is likely to continue Trump’s policies. The only difference is that the benefits will go to a different corner of the Washington swamp: unions instead of inefficient American corporations. But it’s all one big swamp. Trump had Peter Navarro to oversee his protectionist agenda, and Biden has an entourage of Navarro impersonators to oversee his. Apparently, Biden and his entourage have no more understanding than Trump that economic efficiency is defined in terms of consumer satisfaction, not producer privilege.

… Like Trump, Biden does not believe in free trade, but in “fair trade” as he (and his union boss supporters) defines it. He promises to ‘stand up for America’. Protectionism is the area where Biden is most likely to be Trump 2.0.

If he continues with his reported protectionist plans, Trump 2.0 would be more Trumpian than Trump 1.0 in this area. As I argued in a recent post, protecting environmental benefits is particularly farcical: see “The Farce of Clean Energy Dumping,” Econlog, April 1, 2024. But it is no more economically absurd and dangerous than Trump’s nationalism.

Underlying all this are phenomena that economists are used to seeing in the economics of politics: the greed for power of politicians towards organized interests and the logic of interventionism that produces interventionism. This morning Wall Street JournalHolman Jenkins summarizes one aspect of the logic of politics (“Whose trade war is worse: Trump’s or Biden’s?“):

Mr. Biden shows every sign of wanting to start a global trade war to protect the expensive, uncompetitive green energy industry he has built at home with taxpayer dollars.


For this post I am using the same image (shown below) that appeared in the previous one, “The Farce of Clean Energy Dumping.” As I explained there, my idea for DALL-E was that Chinese solar panels and electric cars fell from the sky like manna, and that Commerce Department agents tried to shoot the goodies and prevent people from collecting them. To get DALL-E’s half-cooperation, I had to explain that the weapons of Department of Commerce agents shoot roses.

Department of Commerce agents stop Americans from harvesting green manna from China (DALL-E)