Jeff Faux

Jeff Faux is a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, which he founded. His latest book, The Servant Economy (Wiley), was published in June 2012.

Recent Articles

Bait and Switch:

T here is a moment in every successful con game when the victim thinks that he or she has gotten the better of the deal. Thus, going into the 2000 elections, Democrats congratulated themselves on having become the party of fiscal responsibility. Urged on by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Bill Clinton had made eliminating the national debt more important than expanding investment in health, education, and other social programs. It was a sharp contrast to the preceding Reagan-Bush years of irresponsible tax cuts and profligate military spending. With the surplus predicted to rise for a decade, the Clinton White House had become, as Washington Post columnist David Ignatius recently observed, "one of the most ardently pro-Wall Street administrations in the nation's history." The delusion continued throughout the 2000 presidential campaign. George W. Bush promised to balance the budget except during a time of war or recession. Al Gore, however, happily positioned himself to the...

A Deal Built on Sand

P ulled along by the war on terrorism, the multinational corporate campaign to deregulate the global economy seems back on course--at least for the moment. By shrewdly buying votes and appealing to patriotism, the Bush administration engineered the jump start of a stalled new round of trade talks at the World Trade Organization in mid-November. Three weeks later, the White House squeaked through to a one-vote victory in the House of Representatives to put trade deals on a legislative "fast track." Unfortunately, the result of both events will be to bury the real issue: competent and accountable governance of the global marketplace. In Doha, Qatar, the World Trade Organization finally found a safe place to hold a meeting. The tiny Persian Gulf sheikhdom is only 1,000 miles from Afghanistan. But it is a 9,000-mile flight from Seattle, where two years ago street protestors frustrated the WTO's attempt to further liberate global investors from government restrictions in trade and...

Trading on Terrorism:

"S ometimes," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said recently, "tragedy also presents opportunities for those who are alert." Sure enough, in the collapse of the World Trade Center, the alert Mr. Zoellick saw an opportunity to appeal to wartime patriotism in order to put new trade deals on a congressional "fast track." Fast-track authority allows a president to negotiate trade agreements and then present an amendment-proof text to Congress for an up or down vote. The fast track, ordinarily a routine courtesy, has been in trouble lately. Led by Democrats angry over Bill Clinton's trade policies, Congress in 1998 refused to reauthorize the fast-track rule. Today, a majority of House Democrats also want to deny it to George W. Bush unless he guarantees that trade agreements will protect workers and the environment as well as investors. Such considerations are now irrelevant, argues Zoellick, because unregulated trade is an essential weapon in the president's war on terrorism...

The WTO Vote: Whose Rules for Globalism?

A s this spring's congressional debate heats up over ratification of the recent China-U.S. trade agreement, the mainstream media have once again dragged out the hoary morality play on "free trade." On the dark side are protectionist unions, irresponsible eco-freaks, and the jingoist right. On the side of light and reason are the president, the Republican leadership, and the high-minded CEOs of America's great multinational corporations. In the script, the triumph of virtue is continually put at risk by the public's ignorance of economics. To be sure, there are irrational isolationists among those who oppose permanent normal trading relations (PNTR) with China, as there are child labor abusers and despoilers of the environment who support it. But the underlying issue is not the motivations of either side. The question is, what rules will guide the emerging global marketplace? The most successful national economies...

The Myth of the New Democrats

There isn't much new or Democratic about the New Democrats. They preach the same brand of conservative politics that has run this country into the ground.

B ecoming a media buzzword is the public relations dream of every Washington policy cabal. It is the signal that the media is ready to collaborate. The great PR success story of the 1980s was the "supply-siders." The term, which suggests a conservative concern with investment and producer efficiency, is still applied to those who promoted the decidedly demand-side Reaganomics of economic stimulus through the deficit financing of military and private consumption. So it is with the "New Democrats." The label creats the image of a collection of Democratic politicians and policy technocrats freeing the party from its bondage to a liberalism that is out of touch with mainstream America. Closer to reality, the term reflects a confused attempt to bring intellectual respectability to the moderate-conservative coalition that has ruled Washington for most of the past 25 years. There is a great deal of overlap between New Democrats and those politicians who used to be known on Capitol Hill as...

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