Popular writing about neoliberalism and the U.S. party system gives a lot of blame/credit to Republicans as being the intellectual architects of programs like “bilateral investment treaties” (BITs).

Indeed, as BIT historian Kenneth Vandevelde has written, the Carter administration began kicking around the BIT concept, but it was really the Reagan administration that put bones on it. Reagan signed 10 BITs, Bush I did 15, and Bush II one-upped dad for 17 BITs (and FTAs with investment chapters) signed.

However, these apparent differences begin to fade when an adjustment is made for years in office. As Table 1 shows, Democrats were almost as likely to sign BITs, and much more likely to implement BITs, than their GOP counterparts.

In sum, the BIT program has high levels of support from presidencies of both parties – much more so than other policy areas.

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