Table of Contents

Policymakers and experts are debating at least three very different foreign policy visions for advancing middle-class economic interests: (1) the post–Cold War pro-business and pro-globalization approaches traditionally championed by the bipartisan foreign policy establishment, (2) the largely nationalistic America First approach being advanced by Trump, and (3) the socially liberal approach focused on economic justice, climate change, and nonmilitary means of foreign policy advocated by progressives. All three visions enjoy strong support among sizable constituencies. The proponents of each will likely use the coronavirus to vindicate their worldview. But none of these visions now enjoys broad-based bipartisan support. And each one falls short, albeit in different ways, in advancing the economic interests of the middle class.

For many of those interviewed in Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio, their primary economic interests are to create and secure jobs that pay enough to sustain a middle-class standard of living and to protect the economic viability of their local communities and base industries—especially in the face of external shocks and rapid transitions in the global economy. By that measure, there is ample room to improve on any of the three visions. However, each one offers elements that could help set the direction for U.S. foreign policy in the post–COVID-19 era.

Pro-Business and Pro-Globalization Approach

In the post–Cold War period, the U.S. foreign policy establishment did not explicitly focus on the creation and protection of better-paying jobs and the economic viability of local communities. Rather, it assumed those interests were being advanced, at home and abroad, through economic policies aimed at stimulating growth, market-friendly tax and regulatory policies, market-oriented structural reforms, trade liberalization, and greater capital mobility.

From the late 1980s to the mid-2010s, U.S. foreign policy and national security professionals generally assumed that they were promoting U.S. middle-class interests by promoting business interests and U.S. values abroad. When the U.S. government opens more foreign markets for its exports, as the traditional reasoning goes, U.S. businesses can create more jobs at home. When the government facilitates the growth of global supply chains, U.S. consumers can enjoy lower import prices. When it pushes for market-friendly reforms and freer capital markets, global businesses can expand and household incomes can rise, creating demand for U.S. products in the process. Likewise, securing protections for U.S. investment abroad can promote the rule of law, strengthen property rights, and level the playing field. In short, U.S. foreign policy and national security professionals believed that they were advancing middle-class economic interests when they worked to build a free and open international economic system that advanced opportunity and prosperity for all and when they pushed for greater democracy and human rights.1

The foreign policy establishment also saw this approach as a way to strengthen U.S. national security. It understood that other nations would be far more likely to support the United States in its global leadership role when the United States’ and its allies’ economic interests were more deeply intertwined. It also assumed that economic liberalization would pave the way for political liberalization in undemocratic states—and that this, in turn, would decrease the likelihood of war.

Much of this faith in economic liberalization and integration was well founded.2 In the decades following the Cold War, scores of countries embraced democratic governance and free enterprise and agreed to compete in a global economy whose rules the United States had largely shaped. As a result, U.S. businesses, particularly U.S.-based multinational corporations, were well positioned to leverage the benefits of globalization and thus grew stronger. Meanwhile, billions of people around the world were lifted out of poverty, creating new consumer markets and engines for global economic growth. U.S. leadership and international cooperation also helped the world come to grips with major global health crises, including HIV/AIDS and the H1N1 pandemic.

It is also worth noting that core aspects of this approach still enjoyed bipartisan support as of 2019. In polls that year, 76 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans responded that U.S. involvement in the global economy is a good thing because it provides the United States with new markets and opportunities for growth.3 The most apprehensive respondents were those with a high school education or less, though 64 percent of respondents still supported global economic involvement.4

But mounting pressures on the middle class have created real questions if not misgivings about this approach to foreign policy. To some in the foreign policy establishment, this pushback is simply a communications problem to be addressed. They wonder if the American people would still push for major changes in U.S. foreign policy along the lines Trump espouses if they had a fuller understanding of the benefits of U.S. global leadership and the risks of no longer exercising it.

And undoubtedly, the average American faces an understandable information deficit about foreign policy relative to the average foreign policy professional. Those interviewed in Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio acknowledged candidly that they did not know a lot about U.S. foreign policy or how it affected their economic interests. And then when they did seek out information, they found it hard to know what or whom to believe. Their trust had eroded in U.S. government and international institutions, foreign policy professionals, and the media, which they viewed as providing politically biased coverage of any administration’s domestic and foreign policies. The controversies around the coverage of COVID-19 have likely only deepened that mistrust.

The pro-business and pro-globalization approach has not focused on the two things that those interviewed in Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio said they cared about most: sustained growth in employment earnings across the income spectrum, and the economic viability of their local communities.

A communications challenge rooted in lack of trusted information is only part of the story, though. There are serious substantive policy challenges too. The pro-business and pro-globalization approach has not focused on the two things that those interviewed in Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio said they cared about most: sustained growth in employment earnings across the income spectrum, and the economic viability of their local communities. And this is because the foreign policy establishment assumed that (1) the benefits of economic growth would be distributed more evenly than was the case, (2) small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would seize on new export opportunities and thereby increase middle-income wages, and (3) trade adjustment assistance (TAA) programs would offset the effects of any dislocations while labor moved on readily to new job opportunities elsewhere in the country.

Unfortunately, the adjustments have been slower and harder than expected. For workers, middle-income wages have stagnated in the past two decades, even as global corporate profits have grown. For small businesses, often a lack of resources and know-how have prevented them from taking full advantage of provisions in international trade agreements, and so the deals have disproportionately benefited large multinational corporations able to leverage global supply chains and global economies of scale. For communities, the dislocations associated with globalization have been far more severe than expected, as in hard-hit manufacturing areas like Coshocton, Dayton, and Marion, Ohio.5 Even in its more generous, recent incarnations, TAA only temporarily cushioned the blow of trade-related job losses and was not able to move people to jobs that paid comparably, let alone support the economic recovery of entire communities.6

Moreover, contrary to earlier—and now clearly overoptimistic—assumptions, China has not abandoned its unfair trading practices, including subsidizing state-owned enterprises and stealing intellectual property and technology. To some minds, when it comes to China, the United States lost high-quality U.S. jobs in return for scant economic or security gains. Meanwhile, global industrial supply chains have grown increasingly reliant on Chinese labor and production capacity, heightening the risk of conflict should a severe disruption occur. The COVID-19 crisis brought this into sharp relief, as various U.S. governors had to reach out to China for personal protective equipment because U.S. companies no longer produce them at scale at home. Despite its many strengths, the rules-based international economic system long championed by the United States has struggled to address these issues.

Finally, the foreign policy establishment was overly optimistic about how U.S. domestic policy and politics would evolve. Many did not anticipate such a large income and wealth gap opening between the nation’s top earners and everyone else, and they severely underestimated the political blockages that would emerge on the domestic front. These blockages include stiff resistance to federal spending among ardent fiscal conservatives as well as bitter partisanship on other policy issues like environmental regulation and healthcare reform. The result was inadequate levels of public investment in infrastructure, R&D, education, and workforce development—all of which could have alleviated the concerns now being voiced. As mentioned in the previous chapter, these public investments are the very things needed to increase productivity and push up middle-income wages, as well as to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. labor and business vis-à-vis China and other foreign economic competitors. When those investments are not being made at home, it is natural for many Americans to view major foreign policy undertakings more critically, especially when these efforts entail spending trillions of dollars, as was the case with military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

America First Approach

The logic behind Trump’s America First approach becomes clearer when seen within this context. It purposefully recasts the nation’s interests in terms of the economic well-being of American workers, especially those in the manufacturing sector and those without a college degree in decent-paying jobs.7 It evaluates U.S. foreign policies from that perspective. And it seeks to reduce U.S. burdens and expenditures abroad, so more dollars remain in U.S. coffers and communities. However, in trying to better serve the interests of certain workers, Trump’s approach comes at the expense of others and undermines other critical U.S. domestic and national security interests.

In trying to better serve the interests of certain workers, Trump’s approach comes at the expense of others and undermines other critical U.S. domestic and national security interests.

To protect and bring back U.S. manufacturing jobs, the Trump administration has upended a decades-long approach to U.S. international trade policy. It has turned to the widespread use of tariffs that runs counter to U.S. international obligations, has prompted stiff retaliation from major trading partners, and has set in motion dynamics that could lead to a partial decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies, as well as the U.S. and European economies. To protect jobs in the fossil fuel industries, the administration has rolled back Obama-era regulations to combat climate change and has withdrawn from the Paris climate accords.

Partly to safeguard defense sector jobs, the administration has funded massive increases in the defense budget and lobbied other nations to buy more U.S.-made weapons.8 Meanwhile, the administration looks to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and Syria and presses U.S. allies to assume more responsibility for their own defense. In the name of freeing up more resources for American workers and families, the administration has restricted immigration and refugee resettlement and sought drastic cuts in the U.S. foreign aid and international affairs budget.

Rather than seeing the interests of Americans and those abroad as intertwined, Trump has advanced a zero-sum view of the world. And he and others appear to believe that the coronavirus crisis vindicates this view. The pandemic reveals the dangers of a world in which people move too freely across borders. It makes foreign aid and development assistance less tenable when needs at home are so great. And it makes patently clear that Americans should no longer rely on China and other nations to produce medical equipment and many other goods that should be made in the United States.

But while sizable constituencies among those interviewed in the three states welcomed aspects of Trump’s America First approach, even those who voted for Trump in 2016 raised serious concerns. During the interviews (conducted prior to the COVID-19 crisis), they were particularly worried about (1) the administration’s prioritization of certain groups of middle-income workers and certain communities over others, (2) the singular focus on near-term interests only, and (3) the risks of a zero-sum approach to the world.9

Trump’s approach has created winners and losers among the middle class, just as earlier approaches have done. For example, those in steel towns like Marion, Ohio, and Pueblo, Colorado, noted that the tariffs on imported steel—intended to help those in steel-producing industries—were raising the costs of source material and hence creating problems for a greater number of manufacturing workers in steel-using industries (who greatly outnumber those in steel-producing industries).10 Economic development organizations across Ohio stressed that efforts to protect certain manufacturing jobs from offshoring (for example, through increased tariffs) were potentially hurting other manufacturing jobs by dampening foreign direct investment.

In Colorado and Nebraska, and in parts of Ohio such as Columbus, those interviewed said that long-standing trade policies had generally served the interests of middle-income workers involved in advanced manufacturing, agriculture, business services, tech, and tourism. Hence, they were worried about being on the losing end as abrupt policy changes are pursued or contemplated to serve the interests of other middle-income workers.

The trade war with China, in particular, has eroded market share for agricultural communities. Approximately one in four jobs in Nebraska is connected with the agricultural production complex, and these communities shouldered the burden of Chinese tariffs against U.S. imports as the tariff war escalated.11 Many of those within the complex—and, in fact, within both Democratic and Republican voting counties in all three states—were supportive of Trump playing hardball with China to combat the country’s unfair trading practices. The interviewees were divided, however, about the way it was being done, how much pain they could ultimately absorb, and whether it would be worth it. China—an important market and area for growth for Nebraska’s soybean, hides and skins, and other exports—retaliated by ceasing imports of U.S. agricultural products. Between 2017, when bilateral trade tensions began, and the end of 2019, Nebraskan exports to China dropped by 27 percent.12 Reports of China planning to increase U.S. soybean imports after signing the phase one trade deal with the United States in January 2020 were therefore met with relief but also with concern that it had come too late given how much damage had already been done.13 With the onset of COVID-19, uncertainty prevails about whether China will remain able and willing to import the full amount of U.S. products it committed to in the phase one deal.

Of course, any policy approach is susceptible to producing winners and losers when the near-term economic interests of different workers, industries, and sectors diverge. The challenge is to step back and look at the broader strategic trends. Ironically, representatives of the coal industry in Colorado and Ohio were among those who made this point most powerfully. They acknowledged that, regardless of the United States’ policies on climate change, the transition away from coal would continue apace on economic grounds. Natural gas is simply a more cost-effective alternative to coal. Communities now heavily dependent on the production of coal cannot be shielded from market forces indefinitely. Those in coal-dependent areas see that private capital is shifting toward renewable energy, which plays to the strengths of those in Boulder and Denver, Colorado, for example, which are hubs for cutting-edge research and expertise on renewable energy. They do not want the transition to be stopped at all cost; they instead want to be fully consulted and involved in the transition, as they have serious economic interests at stake.

Manufacturing workers, like coal miners, are experiencing inexorable transformations in their workplaces—ones that U.S. trade policy can do little to halt over the long term. Manufacturing, once the main source of well-paying middle-class jobs, now accounts for approximately 9 percent of the nation’s workforce.14 The trends in capital investments in labor-saving technologies suggest that this percentage will steadily decline over the longer term, notwithstanding upticks in the near term.15 Meanwhile, the percentage of middle-income jobs will continue to grow in service sectors that capitalize on digital trade and other technological advances, where the United States maintains a competitive edge in the global economy.

Despite the job losses in some U.S. communities, chronic workforce shortages are plaguing many of the rural counties suffering population stagnation or decline in Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio. According to local economic development organizations in all three states, availability of a local workforce is critical to attracting new business and investment. Nebraskans, in particular, have relied on an inflow of foreign labor to address their workforce shortages.16 This is not only to fill jobs for seasonal work on farms but also to meet year-end requirements for many different occupations, including nursing in regional hospitals. Thus, while Nebraskans felt it was in their interests for the United States to secure its borders and uphold the rule of law, they also believed it was in their interests to increase legal immigration and refugee resettlement. It would run counter to their interests to extend the current temporary restrictions on immigration for any longer than absolutely necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Finally, few of those interviewed supported a drastic cut in foreign aid. To the contrary, some interviewees in the agricultural sectors of Colorado and Ohio saw a direct connection between global poverty reduction, increased protein consumption, and increased demand for U.S.-raised cattle and meat products. Others in Nebraska pointed out that the United States’ provision of in-kind food assistance served the interests of the state’s farmers. Some in Ohio recalled how it was critical for the United States to help Japan recover from the tsunami in 2011 because the disaster had disrupted supply chains for Honda, now the state’s top manufacturing employer.17 A seafood supplier based in Denver, Colorado, stressed how it was in his industry’s interests to invest in global health systems abroad, noting that an outbreak of infectious salmon anemia in Chile had directly hurt his business.18 Not many interviewees could cite such specific examples about how U.S. foreign aid served their interests, but the general message most people conveyed was the same: helping others abroad could serve their economic interests and, perhaps equally or more importantly, uphold American values.

The coronavirus pandemic further illustrates why targeted investments in the capacity of other nations are in the United States’ national security and economic interests. Foreign aid can help to prevent the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases and to strengthen international cooperation to promote global economic growth. Even as infection rates slow in the United States, the risk of rates increasing again will remain as long as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly in other countries. And the U.S. economy will not rebound fully as long as the global economy remains in a deep recession.

Socially Liberal Approach Focused on Economic Justice, Climate Change, and Nonmilitary Means of Foreign Policy

Progressives on the left side of the political spectrum reject Trump’s zero-sum approach and, like the foreign policy establishment, see the interests of Americans and others around the world as intertwined. This is especially so when it comes to combating climate change. But they also seek to curtail pro-globalization policies in favor of efforts to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs and compete on a more level playing field, especially vis-à-vis China. But unlike Trump, they emphasize economic and social justice in U.S. domestic and foreign policy and envisage a strong role for the federal government in promoting them through a mix of stronger social insurance programs at home, an ambitious environmental agenda, domestic industrial policy, and multilateral diplomacy overseas.

The COVID-19 crisis strengthens progressives’ confidence in their approach for several reasons. They assert that the economic fallout of the crisis lays bare the deficiencies and inequities of our economic system while providing a glimpse of what more frequent and severe climate-induced weather shocks do to vulnerable populations. And they stress that the United States cannot afford to sustain the current levels of defense spending, given the country’s already huge debt and the additional funds needed to offset the loss of workers’ employment earnings, keep small businesses afloat, and invest in public health systems, among many other new requirements.

The fight against climate change, in particular, is framed as an overriding national security and economic interest, as well as the defining foreign and domestic policy challenge of the twenty-first century. Progressives believe that addressing this challenge would advance the economic interests of the middle class and all Americans—by incentivizing trillions of dollars of public and private investments in the transition to a low-carbon economy and by creating millions of new green manufacturing jobs to replace those currently dependent on fossil fuels. And while progressives see fiscal space for such investments in the current low-interest rate environment, they also support reducing the defense budget as a way of redirecting resources to such investments as well as to education, workforce development, and the well-being of the middle class more generally.19 In their view, that would concurrently serve to advance another important national security interest, which is to rebalance the military and nonmilitary aspects of U.S. foreign policy. They contend that this objective would be easier to achieve if the United States were less dependent on fossil fuels, as it would reduce the need for a long-term military presence in the Middle East.

The progressives’ approach seems likely to favor the interests of some middle-income workers and communities over others.

But the progressives’ approach seems likely to favor the interests of some middle-income workers and communities over others. The vast majority of coal, oil, and gas production, for example, occurs in rural counties, some of which will be ill-suited for green energy projects. This production is not just supporting profits for big oil companies; it is also anchoring the local economies of places like Weld County, Colorado, where extractive industries provide well-paying jobs for those without a college degree and deliver severance taxes that pay for local services, municipal workers, county clerks, and other middle-income jobs. In other areas, royalties on drilling help keep struggling farms afloat and, as in the case of North Platte, Nebraska, shipments of coal support middle-class rail transportation jobs. Case studies of coal-dependent counties by Brookings have shown how the rapid decline of a community’s base industry, specifically coal, can lead to economic downturns and the collapse of local governments’ fiscal conditions due to “the inability to raise revenue, repay debt, and/or provide basic public services.”20

Similarly, defense dollars benefit not only shareholders and top executives of major defense contractors but also rural counties and mid-size cities across the country. The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the Dayton metropolitan area, for example, is the largest single-site employer in Ohio.21 The base helped to keep the regional economy afloat following the departure of major employers, such as the GM assembly plant and the National Cash Register. In addition, the defense sector, anchored in Colorado Springs, is a huge driver of middle-class jobs across Colorado.

There is also a significant political dimension to transitioning to a low-carbon economy and reining in defense spending that cannot be ignored. Like in Democratic-voting areas, plenty of Republican-leaning communities are pursuing “green projects” as an engine of economic growth in their communities. And like their Republican counterparts, there are plenty of Democratic members of Congress who fight hard to preserve defense spending that supports jobs in their districts and states. Notwithstanding, far more of the rural counties and mid-size cities that host coal, oil, and gas companies, as well as defense facilities, vote for Republicans than for Democrats. For example, of the 504 counties considered to be “mining-dependent” according to the United States Department of Agriculture, well over 80 percent of them voted for Republicans in the last two presidential elections.22 

There is no equivalent and widely accepted standard for determining defense dependency. However, according to various data sources, defense personnel account for 10 percent or more of the workforce in areas commonly considered to be economically dependent on defense spending, such as Sarpy County in Nebraska, El Paso County in Colorado, and Greene County in Ohio.23 By that measure, ninety-one counties and boroughs across the nation could be considered defense-dependent—three-quarters of which voted for the Republican candidate in the last two presidential elections.24

Thus, the shift in U.S. foreign policy that progressives have in mind will face more resistance in certain parts of the country and negatively impact more Republicans than Democrats—at least in the near term. If progressives intend to rely on economic adjustment assistance to ease the “just transition” to a low-carbon economy, they will need to address the inadequacies of past assistance—not only for workers but also for the communities that lose their base industries. Some of the ideas progressives have floated do, in fact, envisage far more generous economic adjustment assistance for displaced workers in the fossil fuel industries than was provided for trade-displaced workers. For example, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed guaranteeing five years of current salary—in addition to housing, healthcare, and pension assistance and job training and priority job placement—for any displaced worker.25 And the massive increase in federal government spending on green jobs that progressives advocate is likewise a critical element of the element of the economic adjustment assistance they have in mind. But it is uncertain whether Congress will adequately fund such proposals. The affected communities therefore have legitimate concerns about how they will offset the loss of their base industries, especially where geographic considerations and workforce availability preclude the hosting of solar farms, windfarms, or other forms of renewable energy.

Finally, just like Trump’s proposal to cut foreign aid, the progressives’ proposal to slash defense spending largely remains silent on the potential longer-term security and economic risks of doing so. No one expressed any enthusiasm for starting additional wars. At the same time, no U.S. administration gets a pass on international emergencies, foreign military challenges, or new emerging threats during its tenure. Depending on how the United States reduced its force structure and posture, the risk of war could go up, not down.

Reconciling Competing Foreign Policy Visions in the Post–COVID-19 Era

None of the three competing visions alone offers a prescription for making U.S. foreign policy work optimally for America’s middle class. While they share some important strengths worth preserving, they have strategic weaknesses as well. This points the way toward a fourth approach that draws on elements of each but differs clearly from them too. Unlike under the three current visions, a foreign policy for the middle class under this approach would

  1. address the downside risks of today’s more interconnected security, economic, and social environments much more directly and pay more attention to ensuring that the benefits are more widely shared;
  2. advance a shared prosperity and global security through international leadership, engagement, and positive-sum thinking; and
  3. maintain a robust defense posture to undergird U.S. diplomacy, foster global stability, and ensure continued access and integration with the global markets on which the U.S. economy depends.

The United States should pursue a foreign policy that directly supports a global economic recovery—by building resilience through multilateral cooperation, fashioning a trade agenda that better aligns with the interests of U.S. businesses and workers, modernizing trade rules and enforcement tools, and increasing public investment in U.S. global competitiveness (see Chapter 3). It should also focus more of its U.S. diplomatic, development, defense, and intelligence activities on promoting international stability and preventing global shocks that could devastate U.S. middle-class households and communities (see Chapter 4). Taken together, these measures represent a comprehensive agenda for making U.S. foreign policy work better for the middle class and, indeed, all of America.

Notes

1 White House, “National Security Strategy of the United States,” September 2002; and White House, “National Security Strategy of the United States,” May 2010.

2 Ibid.

3 Pew Research Center, “In a Politically Polarized Era, Sharp Divides in Both Partisan Coalitions.”

4 Ibid.

5 Salman Ahmed, Karan Bhatia, Wendy Cutler, David Gordon, Jennifer Harris, Edward Hill, Douglas Lute, Daniel M. Price, William Shkurti, Christopher Smart, Fran Stewart, Jake Sullivan, Ashley J. Tellis, and Tom Wyler, “U.S. Foreign Policy for the Middle Class: Perspectives From Ohio,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 10, 2018, https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/12/10/u.s.-foreign-policy-for-middle-class-perspectives-from-ohio-pub-77779; and Robert E. Scott, “Growth in U.S.-China Trade Deficit Between 2001 and 2015 Cost 3.4 Million Jobs,” Economic Policy Institute, January 31, 2017, https://www.epi.org/publication/growth-in-u-s-china-trade-deficit-between-2001-and-2015-cost-3-4-million-jobs-heres-how-to-rebalance-trade-and-rebuild-american-manufacturing/.

6 Peter Schochet and Ronald D’Amico, “Estimated Impacts for Participants in the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Under the 2002 Amendments,” Mathematica Policy Research and Social Policy Research, accessed August 6, 2020, https://www.mathematica.org/-/media/publications/pdfs/labor /taa_synthesis.pdf.

7 White House, “National Security Strategy of the United States,” December 2017.

8 Matt Spetalnick and Mike Stone, “Arming the World: Inside Trump’s ‘Buy American’ Drive to Expand Weapons Exports,” Reuters, April 17, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-arms-insight/arming-the-world-inside-trumps-buy-american-drive-to-expand-weapons-exports-idUSKBN1HO2PT.

9 While many interviewees hoped to see more effective burden-sharing across nations, few seemed to view the world as zero-sum. This finding was reinforced by Politico and AARP polling in our initial Ohio report; see Ahmed et al., “U.S. Foreign Policy for the Middle Class: Perspectives From Ohio,” 89.

10 Edward (Ned) Hill and Fran Stewart, “The Economic Impact of the Trade Skirmish of 2018 on the Nation and Ohio,” The Ohio State University, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, Ohio Manufacturing Institute, 2019, http://glenn.osu.edu/trade-skirmish/TS-attributes/Trade%20Skirmish.pdf.

11 Eric Thompson, Bruce Johnson, and Anil Giri, “The 2010 Economic Impact of the Nebraska Agricultural Production Complex,” UNL Department of Agricultural Economics Report no. 192, 2012, https://agecon.unl.edu/research/nebraska-ag-economic-impact.pdf.

12 U.S. Census Bureau, USA Trade Online, “State Exports by HS Commodities,” 2017 and 2019. The U.S. Census Bureau treats the state of export as the place where the goods are consolidated for shipment (for example, origin of movement). The use of origin of movement data can underestimate Nebraska’s reported exports because a number of the goods it produces for export are transported down the Mississippi to the port of New Orleans, where they are then consolidated and shipped. In those instances, the U.S. Census Bureau records the exports under Louisiana’s totals rather than Nebraska’s. This also is the case with other inland agricultural states.

13 “China to Significantly Increase U.S. Soybean Imports After Phase 1 Deal: Global Times,” Reuters, January 15, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-ports/china-to-significantly-increase-us-soybean-imports-after-phase-1-deal-global-times-idUSKBN1ZE1SQ.

14 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Current Employment Statistics, Non-Farm Employment, Non-Seasonally Adjusted Annual Averages, 2019,” data extracted March 26, 2020, https://www.bls.gov/data/.

15 “Manufacturing Jobs Are Defying Expectations,” Economist, October 20, 2018, https://www.economist.com/united-states/2018/10/18/manufacturing-jobs-are-defying-expectations.

16 Salman Ahmed, Allison Gelman, Tarik Abdel-Monem, Wendy Cutler, Rozlyn Engel, David Gordon, Jennifer Harris, Douglas Lute, Jill O’Donnell, Daniel M. Price, David Rosenbaum, Christopher Smart, Jake Sullivan, Ashley J. Tellis, Eric Thompson, Janell C. Walther, and Tom Wyler, “U.S. Foreign Policy for the Middle Class: Perspectives From Nebraska,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 21, 2020, https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/05/21/u.s.-foreign-policy-for-middle-class-perspectives-from-nebraska-pub-81767; and U.S. Census Bureau, Population, “Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018,” https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/data/tables.2018.html.

17 Ohio Development Services Agency, “Ohio Major Employers—Section 1,” May 2019, https://development.ohio.gov/files/research/B2001.pdf.

18 Ahmed et al., “U.S. Foreign Policy for the Middle Class: Perspectives From Colorado”; and Salman Ahmed and Brian Lewandowski, phone interview with representative of Seattle Fish Company, March 19, 2019.

19 Yasmine Taeb, “More Than 50 Organizations Urge Biden and Trump to Adopt a More Principled Foreign Policy,” Demand Progress, May 11, 2020, https://demandprogress.org/50-organizations-urge-biden-trump-adopt-principled-foreign-policy/.

20 Adele Morris, Noah Kaufman, and Siddhi Doshi, “The Risk of Fiscal Collapse in Coal-Reliant Communities,” Brookings Institution, July 15, 2019, https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-risk-of-fiscal-collapse-in-coal-reliant-communities/.

21 Ohio Development Services Agency, “Ohio Major Employers—Section 1,” May 2019, https://development.ohio.gov/files/research/B2001.pdf.

22 For the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service’s 2015 definition for county-level “mining dependence,” see “County Typology Codes: Documentation,” updated October 23, 2019, https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/county-typology-codes/documentation/. Mining-dependent counties have a mining industry that accounts for an average of 13 percent or more of total county earnings or 8 percent or more of total county population. Coal mining as 8 percent or more employment is also used as the criteria for “coal-mining dependent” counties in a joint report on coal reliance, published by the Columbia-SIPA and Brookings Institution in 2019; see Morris et al., “The Risk of Fiscal Collapse in Coal-Reliant Communities.” Annual average natural resources and mining employment (private ownership) by county is taken as a percent of annual average total employment (all ownership types) for the year 2018 or 2019, whichever year data are available for that county. When data are available for both 2018 and 2019, the average is taken. The data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, https://data.bls.gov/cew/apps/data_views/data_views.htm#tab=Tables, accessed April–June 2020. Natural resources and mining employment data are not viewable for approximately 8 percent of U.S. counties. The county-level voting data are from MIT’s Election Lab data base, “Country Presidential Elections Returns, 2000-2016,” which can be accessed at https://electionlab.mit.edu/data. 

23 Defense personnel counts refers to direct defense employees, including active duty, national guard, civilian, and reserve personnel. Defense contractor data were not available but would likely show there is dependency on the defense industry in more than ninety-one counties. For example, in Pima County, Arizona, where there is $7 billion in defense contracting but only 3 percent of the workforce are direct defense employees. The defense personnel counts are from September 2019. The personnel counts come from data provided by the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment. More information on defense personnel spending can be found in their “Defense Spending by State” reports. The Fiscal Year 2018 report is available at: U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment, “Defense Spending by State Fiscal Year 2018,” https://www.oea.gov/sites/default/files/defense-spending-rpts/FY2018-Defense-Spending-by-State-Report_0_0.pdf. A county’s total direct defense personnel is taken as a percent of the September 2019 total workforce. Total workforce data by county comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, https://www.bls.gov/cew/downloadable-data-files.htm, accessed June 2020. Setting the “defense dependency” criteria parallel to the “mining-dependent” criteria, at 8 percent of the workforce, would only slightly change the count of “defense-dependent” counties to 117 with still over 70 percent of those counties voting Republican in the last two presidential elections.

24 The county-level presidential election voting data used are from the MIT Election Data and Science Lab; see MIT Election Data and Science Lab, 2018, “County Presidential Election Returns 2000–2016,” https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/VOQCHQ, Harvard Dataverse, V6, UNF:6:ZZe1xuZ5H2l4NUiSRcRf8Q== [fileUNF]. Data were exported in December 2019 from Harvard Dataverse, https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.7910/DVN/VOQCHQ. Voting data for the Alaska boroughs was sourced from “RRH Elections,” February 2018, https://rrhelections.com/index.php/2018/02/02/alaska-results-by-county-equivalent-1960-2016/. (Workforce and defense data are by borough but voting patterns are by some other proxy in Alaska.)

25 Friends of Bernie Sanders, “The Green New Deal,” https://berniesanders.com/issues/green-new-deal/.