Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Jack Lew: Here's How to Address Americans' Concerns About Globalization

Spend more to support the domestic economy and trade with the rest of the world, too.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew thinks that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has misdiagnosed the source of the American public’s angst and the economy’s ills.

It’s not that free trade and globalization are problems, Lew argued during an interview at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington D.C. It’s that the U.S. government hasn’t been able to spend more to address domestic priorities and alleviate the public’s concern about their own and their children’s financial futures.

 “I think there’s a broad sense of anxiety that growing economies don’t necessarily get to people where they live,” he said. “I don’t think this is about [the Trans-Pacific Partnership] … If we were investing more in infrastructure, which I believe we should, if we were investing more and more smartly in education and training, and in childcare, I’m not sure we’d be in the same place.”

Lew did not cite the Republican nominee by name in his remarks.

Many economists, including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, have called upon the federal government to stimulate the economy to support growth and ease monetary policymakers’ burden.

Lew also offered a full-throated defense of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, indicating that it could “withstand careful scrutiny” and would undoubtedly boost U.S. economic growth.

Conflating Americans’ concern about the future with distrust of free trade is fallacious, he said. The Treasury Secretary emphasized that the two conversations were separate and distinct, and made the case that it would be easier to help people in a faster-growing economy than one that’s growing more slowly.

Tax equity and investing in the future — not shutting the U.S. off from the rest of the world — is the best path towards reducing public angst, according to Lew.

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