(CN) – Rehabilitating a slogan first popularized by World War II-era fascist sympathizers in the United States, President Donald Trump appealed to economic nationalism in his first campaign with cries of “America First.”
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren answered that messaging Monday with a political-left vision for “economic patriotism,” building upon ideas that the 2020 presidential contender floated last month.
“Achieving this vision isn’t about tough talk or tweets,” Warren said in a statement. “We must do the hard work of transforming every aspect of our current approach to trade: from our negotiating process to the negotiating objectives we pursue to the way we enforce agreements.”
Like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Warren has repudiated the Democratic Party’s embrace of global trade deals such as Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Warren may have shied away from directly criticizing Democratic luminaries, but the subtext of her trade treatise is unmistakable. She excoriated a negotiating process that keeps the text “confidential from all but a small set of advisory groups comprised mostly of corporate executives and industry trade group representatives,” a frequent critique of the TPP.
Trump withdrew from the TPP, but he has yet to live up to his campaign promise of abandoning NAFTA, drawing criticism from Sanders in April.
“He has given out $50 billion in government contracts to companies that are shipping jobs overseas,” Sanders said at the time, referring to Trump. “He passed tax cuts that reward companies for offshoring even more jobs. And now more than 185,000 American jobs have been shipped overseas under his watch.”
Warren likewise slammed Trump’s approach as “ultimately corporate-friendly.”
“Unlike the insiders, I don’t think ‘free trade’ deals that benefit big multinational corporations and international capital at the expense of American workers are good simply because they open up markets,” Warren said. “Trade is good when it helps American workers and families — when it doesn’t, we need to change our approach. And unlike Trump, while I think tariffs are an important tool, they are not by themselves a long-term solution to our failed trade agenda and must be part of a broader strategy that this administration clearly lacks.”
During last month’s first presidential debates, Warren and Sanders appeared on different nights.
CNN will place them next to each other at the center of the debate stage this week, leaving many to predict intra-left squabbling. Those expecting conflict will likely be disappointed, however, with both camps describing the candidates as close friends pushing similar visions.
Their insiders signaled that Warren and Sanders are more likely to clash against their party’s more centrist establishment.
Still, the Warren and Sanders platforms on trade are not identical, and Warren hammers down the details and mechanisms to match her rhetoric. She called in June for the creation of a Department of Economic Development tasked with creating a National Jobs Strategy that she likened to similar programs in Germany and China.
Warren also called for the U.S. Trade Representative to publicly release negotiating drafts, a dramatic departure from the TPP process that kept proposals secret and not disclosable under the Freedom of Information Act.
Before entering into another trade deal, Warren said, she would obligate any possible partners to meet various domestic and international standards for recognizing labor rights, human rights, anti-corruption enforcement, Paris climate mandates, and combatting trafficking in persons. A Warren administration, she added, would also obligate countries to eliminate domestic fossil fuel subsidies.