On July 21, President Trump signed an executive order directing a “whole-of-government” assessment of the U.S. industrial base. The goal is to determine where deficiencies and dependencies exist that might undermine military effectiveness in future conflicts. The news will not be good. Basic industries such as steel and aluminum have suffered severe setbacks due to competition from subsidized foreign producers. The U.S. has largely ceased building large oceangoing vessels for international trade, and illegal trade practices by European governments have enabled Airbus to greatly reduce America’s share of the global jetliner market. Production of advanced technology products such as smart phones has largely shifted overseas, and China is investing massively in building up its own technology base. If America is to continue being the “arsenal of democracy,” Washington will need to do a lot more than cut taxes and reduce regulation — although that would certainly be a good place to start in restoring competitiveness. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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