Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Daniel McDowell is filling in this week.
Presidential pledges to revitalize American manufacturing are one of the few remaining vestiges of bipartisanship in Washington. Back in 2012, President Barack Obama used the word “manufacturing” 15 times in his State of the Union address—more than “security” and even the “economy” itself. Striking an optimistic tone about the potential for an industrial comeback, Obama criticized policies that encouraged American manufacturers to move jobs overseas, and he called on U.S. business leaders to consider bringing production home.
Four years later, then-candidate Donald Trump blamed Obama’s love of globalization for the lack of good industrial jobs. A core plank of Trump’s 2016 campaign was a promise to boost the American manufacturing sector by taking on foreign countries’ unfair trade practices, especially China’s.