The silent revolution in American economics

There are three key areas where Biden is fundamentally reshaping our economy to make it better for working people.

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SOURCENationofChange

I don’t think you’re expecting what I’m about to say, because I have never seen anything like this in fifty years in politics.

For decades I’ve been sounding an alarm about how our economy has become increasingly rigged for the rich. I’ve watched it get worse under both Republicans and Democrats, but what President Biden has done in his first term gives me hope I haven’t felt in years. It’s a complete sea change.

Here are three key areas where Biden is fundamentally reshaping our economy to make it better for working people.

#1 Trade and industrial policy

Biden is breaking with decades of reliance on free-trade deals and free-market philosophies. He’s instead focusing on domestic policies designed to revive American manufacturing and fortify our own supply chains.

Take three of his signature pieces of legislation so far — the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS Act, and his infrastructure package. This flood of government investment has brought about a new wave in American manufacturing.

Unlike Trump, who just levied tariffs on Chinese imports and used it as a campaign slogan, Biden is actually investing in America’s manufacturing capacity so we don’t have to rely on China in the first place.

He’s turning the tide against deals made by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, that helped Wall Street but ended up costing American jobs and lowering American wages.

#2 Monopoly power

Biden is the first president in living memory to take on big monopolies.

Giant firms have come to dominate almost every industry. Four beef packers now control over 80 percent of the market, domestic air travel is dominated by four airlines, and most Americans have no real choice of internet providers.

In a monopolized economy, corporate profits rise, consumers pay higher prices, and workers’ wages shrink.

But under the Biden, the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department have become the most aggressive monopoly fighters in more than a half century. They’re going after Amazon and Google, Ticketmaster and Live Nation, JetBlue and Spirit, and a wide range of other giant corporations.  

#3 Labor

Biden is also the most pro-union president I’ve ever seen.

A big reason for the surge in workers organizing and striking for higher wages is the pro-labor course Biden is charting.

The Reagan years blew in a typhoon of union busting across America. Corporations routinely sunk unions and fired workers who attempted to form them. They offshored production or moved to so-called “right-to-work” states that enacted laws making it hard to form unions.

Even though Democratic presidents promised labor law reforms that would strengthen unions, they didn’t follow through. But under Joe Biden, organized labor has received a vital lifeboat. Unionizing has been protected and encouraged. Biden is even the first sitting president to walk a picket line.

Biden’s National Labor Relations Board is stemming the tide of unfair labor practices, requiring companies to bargain with their employees, speeding the period between union petitions and elections, and making it harder to fire workers for organizing.

Americans have every reason to be outraged at how decades of policies that prioritized corporations over people have thrown our economy off-keel.

But these three waves of change — a worker-centered trade and industrial policy, strong anti-monopoly enforcement, and moves to strengthen labor unions — are navigating towards a more equitable economy.

It’s a sea change that’s long overdue.

Read it on Robert Reich’s blog.

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