Free Markets

Should the U.S. Government Adopt an Industrial Policy? A Soho Forum Debate

American Compass Executive Director Oren Cass vs. the Cato Institute's Scott Lincicome on whether the U.S. should increase its intervention in the manufacturing industry.


Oren Cass, who is the former domestic policy director for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and the founder and executive director of the think tank American Compass, believes that the U.S. government should intervene more aggressively in the manufacturing industry.

Cass participated in a recent Soho Forum virtual debate, held on January 13, 2021, arguing in favor of the proposition:

"To promote prosperity among all income groups, the U.S. government should adopt an industrial policy."

Arguing against Cass: Scott Lincicome, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He says that, in the real world, government interference has only hurt manufacturing. The problem with the economic nationalism favored by Cass is that it insulates companies from the discipline of profit and loss. In a free market, businesses learn from their mistakes. When the government is involved, they react by growing bigger as a way to cover for their failures.

It was an Oxford-style debate, and Lincicome prevailed by convincing 14.56 percent of the audience to switch to his side.

The Soho Forum, sponsored by Reason Foundation, is a monthly debate series typically held at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village, but which has gone remote during the pandemic.

Narrated by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Regan Taylor, John Osterhoudt, and Ian Keyser.

Photo: Andy Star/Envato Elements.