Bannon Is Out, but Economic Nationalism Still Thrives at the White House
Policy + Politics

Bannon Is Out, but Economic Nationalism Still Thrives at the White House

© Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Just because Steve Bannon is out of the White House, doesn't mean that his ideas are gone — especially when it comes to economics.

Remember that Bannon was the ideological architect of Donald Trump's Presidential campaign.

Trump, National Trade Council head Peter Navarro, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross all form a trio of protectionist hardliners when it comes to trade with China. Sources familiar with discussions on China policy also say that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer shares a number of their views.

But when it comes to getting things done, the Trump-Navarro-Ross trio may be sufficient.

Consider reports that the White House would take action on steel imports. Despite the near-unanimous consensus that it would be a bad idea, planning for such a move — which arguably would trigger a trade war with China — continued.

The only reason nothing happened yet, is that American companies that purchase steel converged on the White House team. Suddenly this trio realized that steel prices are a complicated matter — who knew?

In an interview with The American Prospect this week, Bannon explained why he was advocating policies that would send us hurtling headline into a conflict with China.

"We're at economic war with China," he said. "It's in all their literature. They're not shy about saying what they're doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years, and it's gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they're just tapping us along. It's just a sideshow."

Navarro especially shares this view on China. His book on the issue, "Death By China" reads exactly how it sounds. There's also a "Death by China" documentary. In it, Navarro he argues many of the things Trump argued on the campaign trail — that China is manipulating its currency in order to export more goods to the US and that it's hurting our manufacturing sector.

One expert claims that "China is the only country in the world that is preparing to kill Americans." Another calls the US "a big chump" for supporting China's entrance into the World Trade Organization.