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Vanderbilt Law Review

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trade barriers, trade liberalization, NAFTA, deregulation


International Trade Law | Law


This Article makes three contributions. First, it introduces the Misalignment Thesis in the context of U.S. trade policy. The Misalignment Thesis is a descriptive claim about how the structure of a legislative bargain influences the long-term stability and effectiveness of that bargain. Second, the Article introduces the normative corollary to the Misalignment Thesis: if political stability hinges on respecting the legislative bargain, interdependent policies should be subject to renegotiation on the same timeline and implementation on the same terms. In light of this prescription, I offer three concrete proposals for aligning trade liberalization and trade adjustment assistance in order to protect and promote the goals of both policies. Most importantly, I argue-contrary to most commentary-that the Trump Administration's proposal to limit the duration of trade agreements like NAFTA would better align trade liberalization and trade adjustment assistance. Third, the Article discusses the Misalignment Thesis's broader application to deregulatory bargains struck in a wide variety of fields, including transportation, telecommunications, and healthcare. The Misalignment Thesis suggests that deregulation often has unintended consequences because the structure of deregulatory bargains undermines their long-term effectiveness.



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