Glenn Hubbard writes in National Affairs about an opportunity for free-market supporters to capitalize on President Biden’s failures.

The advent of “Bidenomics” has resurrected decades-old debates about the merits of markets versus industrial policy. When President Joe Biden announced his eponymous strategy in June 2023, he blasted what he described as “40 years of Republican trickle-down economics” and insisted that he would seek instead to build “an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down.” He would achieve this through “targeted investments” in technologies like semiconductors, batteries, and electric cars — all of which featured heavily in initiatives like the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Yet despite the president’s professed support for a “middle out” economics, Bidenomics has thus far proven to be less of an intellectual framework than a set of well-intended yet ill-fated industrial-policy interventions implemented from the top down.

Some conservatives have joined Biden in embracing industrial policy. … Republican senator Marco Rubio of Florida asserted that while it is difficult to “get industrial policy right, conservatives can and must take ownership of this space to keep the American economy strong and free.” Former president Donald Trump, for his part, staunchly advocates heavy tariffs to promote domestic manufacturing.

Conservatives who adopt their own version of protectionist tinkering with markets are missing an important opportunity. As mercantilism’s decline did for classical liberalism in the 19th century and Keynesianism’s misadventures did for neoliberalism in the 20th, Bidenomics’ failures offer an opening for the right to champion a new type of economics — one that puts opportunity for the people ahead of the economic rules of the game.

Rapid globalization and technological change have left too many Americans behind. But the answer is not for the state to invest in costly projects with dubious prospects, nor is it to adopt a strictly laissez-faire approach to the economy. By reviving classically liberal ideas about competition and opportunity in the face of change, conservatives can promote an alternative economics that retains the enormous benefits of markets and openness while putting people first.