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The Editors

The Competes Act Is No Way to Help the U.S. Economy

Lawmakers should start over, with clearer goals and a focus on getting value for taxpayer dollars.

Take it back to the drawing board.

Take it back to the drawing board.

Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg

The House of Representatives recently passed the America Competes Act, a 2,912-page compendium of initiatives in trade and industrial policy supposedly aimed at restoring America’s economic strength and countering China’s gathering commercial power. Last year, the Senate passed a similarly ambitious measure called the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. Congress now has to reconcile these bills and devise a package that can command sufficient support in both chambers.

As things stand, the bills include some good ideas worth pursuing, some bad ones that should be dropped, and countless others that haven’t been thoroughly examined. Congress should take the opportunity to narrow the scope of what’s being attempted, clarify its purposes, and examine the separate parts much more skeptically than it has up to now.