Jeff Faux

Jeff Faux was the founder, and is now Distinguished Fellow, of the Economic Policy Institute.

Recent Articles

What to Really Do About Immigration

Half a million Mexicans will cross the border annually for the next 15 years. Here's a plan to enable them to stay home.

Art by John Ritter
The backlash against illegal immigration -- which looks like the Republicans' only hope for a wedge issue in next November's election -- is largely aimed at Latinos, of whom the vast majority are Mexicans. In fact almost 60 percent of all undocumented workers in the United States are from Mexico, and close to 12 million of that country's nationals now live in the U.S. Fix the Mexican part of the problem and the divisive politics of illegal immigration shrink dramatically. But the news from south of the border is not good. The number of Mexican workers continues to grow faster than the number of Mexican jobs that pay enough to earn a living. And there is no end to this problem in sight. A November 2007 Mexican government report concluded that even if the overall economy grows steadily, low wages and social inequality will continue to generate heavy out-migration to the U.S. at the current annual rate of roughly 500,000 -- for the next 15 years! Moreover, Mexico's overall growth is...

Trade War

Do liberals need to rethink their outlook on globalization? Two progressive economists debate.

In " Why Populists Need To Re-think Trade ," James K. Galbraith calls on populists to adjust their assumptions and priorities when it comes to trade policy, and adopt a "reality-based" view. In " Breaking the Consensus (Finally) ," Jeff Faux offers a different take, arguing that it's good policy as well as good politics to focus on revamping the rules of the global economy. Here, the two engage each other directly: --- Jeff Faux First, let's get the politics straight. The divisions among Democrats over trade during the last two decades have not been initiated by the populists, but by those who have carried the water for Wall Street. As the chair of American Express exultingly put it, Bill Clinton drove NAFTA home "over the dead bodies" of his two prime constituents, labor and the environmentalists. Then came the WTO, opening to China, and scores of similar deals. Today, "centrist" Democrats are pushing Congress to pass Bush's newest pacts with Colombia, Peru, Panama, and Korea. Anyone...

Breaking the Consensus (Finally)

For the first time in a long time, it may be politically achievable to make globalization work for working Americans.

The bipartisan consensus that has integrated Americans into the global economy over the last two decades is clearly in trouble. Polls show a majority of voters skeptical of free trade, and November's election shifted at least 7 Senate and 30 House seats from supporters of current trade policies to outspoken critics. When Wall Street's Robert Rubin -- who as Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary guided the policies that exposed U.S. workers to low-wage competition in the 1990's -- met with House Democrats in December, he was greeted with a chorus of complaints about outsourced jobs, depleted local tax bases and shrinking opportunities for young people. Rubin responded that, in the interests of party unity, they ought to drop the subject. They told him he was out of touch. For two decades, leaders of both political parties have assured members of Congress and the public that de-regulating imports and exports would make the typical American working family richer. It was said to be Economics...

Canoeing Life's River

I grew up in an urban world of concrete and asphalt. Nature was a few weeds sprouting from sidewalk cracks in August. Summer camp was for rich kids. So I spent a lot of time dreaming of living in the wilderness, fueled by images from James Fennimore Cooper -- the buckskin-clad deerslayer paddling down rivers, hunting, fishing, and fighting bad guys. Most kids saw their first car as a ticket out of the neighborhood. I dreamed of owning a canoe. It was a long time coming. I spent my first decade as an adult fighting a war on poverty and against a war in Vietnam. Then, burned out after the 1972 defeat of George McGovern, I joined other despairing lefties to find hope in rural life. I cashed in everything and moved my family to a run-down blueberry farm in Maine. One spring day, a neighbor told me he was selling his canoe. The canoes of my childhood fantasies were birch bark; this was 16 feet of banged up fiberglass. But it was $60, with three paddles and a patch kit thrown in. The day...

Viva López!

The dramatic political crisis that had menaced Mexico's nascent democracy for the past month is settled. As a result, the country's next president may well be a populist from a left-wing party -- a prospect that gives heartburn to Washington and Wall Street. For the past year, Andrés Manuel López Obrador , the mayor of Mexico City, has consistently led all other potential candidates in polling match-ups for the 2006 election. To counter this threat, the two major conservative parties in Mexico's congress -- President Vicente Fox's Partido Acción Nacional and its erstwhile rival, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), which ruled Mexico for 71 years before Fox's election in 2000 -- passed a law in early April aimed at indicting López Obrador on a trumped-up charge involving a minor land dispute. This would have prohibited him from running. The plot backfired when citizens became outraged at such a transparent attempt to undercut López Obrador's right to be on the ballot and,...