It was really quite a remarkable sight.
As U.S. negotiators were overseas attempting to stop a foreign power’s aggression, American political operatives were telling the other side to hold off on making any agreement. They would get a better deal from a new administration after the election, those operatives assured them.
Anna Chennault? No, Kamala Harris.
Anna Chennault is the shadowy figure infamously accused of torpedoing the Paris peace talks to help Richard Nixon’s electoral prospects in 1968.
Lyndon Johnson was so concerned about Chennault’s back-channel machinations with North Vietnam that he ordered J. Edgar Hoover to tap her phone.
To hear similar back-channel messages these days, you don’t need a wiretap. Just watch cable news.
At the very moment Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were in Shanghai to negotiate an end to China’s trade war—China has been saying it won’t agree to anything unless the United States first lifts the tariffs the Trump Administration has imposed—U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was on live television announcing to the world she would get rid of those tariffs China wants gone.
Just in case anyone missed it the first time, Harris repeated her message blasting President Trump’s “so-called trade policy” in her closing statement.
Shorter version of Kamala: China, if you are listening, I will lift the tariffs when I’m president.
When candidate Trump joked about finding the 30,000 emails Hillary Clinton (said she) had already deleted, the media went into full outrage mode.
When Kamala sent her message to China undercutting our negotiators in real time, the media stayed silent.
For the better part of three years, we’ve been subjected to an endless harangue of baseless speculation that candidate Donald J. Trump sought and received assistance from Russia in the 2016 election.
These same pundits don’t say a word about Beijing’s election interference plans that are already operational, nor about how Democrats’ behavior encourages Beijing to do everything it can to prevent President Trump’s reelection.
It’s now accepted wisdom there will be no trade agreement with China before the election because China would rather deal with a Democrat.
But are we to believe Beijing’s party bosses are doing nothing more than stockpiling popcorn for the Forbidden City watch party on November 3, 2020?
Let’s review the record.
After the Trump Administration hit thousands of illegally subsidized Chinese products with an import tariff, China slapped tariffs on soybeans and other American agricultural products.
But unlike the Trump Administration, China did not base its tariffs on World Trade Organization rules, which allow tariffs on imports illegally subsidized or dumped at below-market prices. Beijing didn’t claim its farmers were being crippled by Iowa soybeans, Kentucky bourbon, or California wine.
And lest anyone mistook the purpose of its economic sanctions, Beijing backed them up with influence operations, including a paid insert in the Des Moines Register designed to undermine farm support for President Trump in a key state.
While the New York Times, the Washington Post and others regularly acknowledge Beijing wants to turn farmers against Trump, neither paper seemed particularly bothered about this blatant example of foreign interference in our electoral process.
Beijing targeted our farmers again by ending all purchases of American agricultural products following the collapse of the Shanghai talks.
This came immediately after the Democratic debate in which candidate after candidate showed their willingness to appease the Chinese Communist Party. Harris was not alone.
The unfortunately named former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper opined “tariffs are not the solution.” Montana Governor Steve Bullock seconded the motion.
Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman and future former presidential candidate, called tariffs “a huge mistake” and repeated U.S. Chamber of Commerce talking points that they are a “tax increase on the American consumer, hitting the middle class and the working poor especially hard.”
This is wrong on three levels: besides undermining our foreign policy, it’s not true, and it’s bad politics.
The government tracks prices closely and the data show no inflation at the wholesale or retail level.
If that’s not enough, listen to the (American) owner of a consumer electronics company that sources 90 percent of its products from China. He writes in the Wall Street Journal that his suppliers are bearing the cost of the tariffs by cutting prices:
Chinese factories don’t want us to walk away because then they will miss their monthly shipping quotas. For the Chinese government, shipping quotas are more important than profitability. When a factory’s managers realize that they must reduce prices to maintain output levels, Beijing comes to the rescue with subsidies to prop up their margins.
It also devalues its currency to offset the cost of tariffs.
Former Toys R Us CEO Jerry Storch did the math and concludes price fears are way overblown. He also asks the question that needs to be put to everyone in Washington and the C suites: “Even if there were some pain, have we really reached the place as a country where we can’t endure even a small amount of pain in pursuit of broader and longer geopolitical goals?”
The Democrat carping about “the Trump trade war” is bad policy and bad politics.
Farmers, ranchers, and blue-collar voters in the Great Lakes states President Trump needs to win like his tough stand on China.
They remember their lives were much, much better before their jobs bled out to China and their communities bled out, period.
These Americans would like see the tariffs doubled and made permanent. They are willing to pay any price to get their country back.
When the president says he’s in no rush to make a deal, they hear him saying he’s standing up for them.
That’s something no other politician ever did.
And Harris and the rest of them aren’t doing it now.