Thus far in the coronavirus crisis, leaders abroad and at home have focused on how much of the world’s medical supply chain runs through China. Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) has offered a bill to limit the purchase of Chinese-made drug ingredients; the Japanese government earmarked ¥243.5 billion (about $2.2 billion) of its bailout package to help businesses leave the PRC.
Rubio, however, is thinking bigger. As early as the end of February, he detailed a proposal to require drug-makers to label the source of their ingredients, mandate that federal purchasers buy American-made drugs, and offer tax breaks to companies that produce pharmaceuticals in the United States. Parts of that proposal made it into a bill Rubio introduced in mid-March, cosponsored by Democratic heavies, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Tim Kaine (Va.).
For Rubio, the goal of the bill is more than just taking leverage away from the Chinese Communist Party. It is about starting to unravel what he sees as one of the major misconceptions of the post-Cold War era—the idea that globalization will erode away the particular interests of nations.