U.S. Relations With China Are Sinking; Trump Defeat in Georgia Tonight is Nearly Certain
May 24, 2022
WE’LL FOCUS THIS MORNING on the latter two issues, since Biden gaffes — ignoring his own staff — are old hat.
AN OPPORTUNITY LOST ON TRADE: Biden’s trip to Asia ostensibly was designed to improve trade policy in the region, but the flap over his confusion on Taiwan hasn’t helped. Biden will spend much of today with trade allies who are asking: if Taiwan is so important, why hasn’t the island nation been included in a sweeping new trade pact?
THE BIGGEST UNKNOWN ON TRADE is whether Biden will ease up on the Trump-era tariffs, which are opposed by most U.S. companies (but supported by organized labor). It appears unlikely that this issue will be resolved soon; Biden’s political aides fear that a trade liberalization with Beijing ahead of this November’s election could expose the president to charges that he’s “soft on China.”
A TOUGHER CHINA POLICY in general seems to be the takeaway from the Biden visit. Beijing is “flirting with danger,” Biden said, implying a Ukraine-type backlash if China threatens Taiwan. The implied military threat prompted an angry verbal backlash in China.
IF BIDEN IS REALLY PREPAED TO TOUGHEN CHINA POLICY, he needs to beef up U.S. defense spending. A Wall Street Journal editorial points out this morning that Biden sets the Navy on a path to shrink to 280 ships in 2027 from 298 today — as China greatly expands its fleet. A credible defense of Taiwan and U.S. allies in Asia is going to require a much bigger military budget.
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DONALD TRUMP’S ABILITY to call the shots in state primaries is likely to hit a brick wall tonight in Georgia. The former president is still furious over his 2020 loss in the presidential election there, and is on a well-publicized “vendetta” crusade to defeat officials who won’t agree that the election was fixed.
THE TRUMP-BACKED CANDIDATE for governor, David Perdue, is trailing by about 30 points against incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, and other Trump-backed candidates are in tough races. Republican voters increasingly support a theme that elections should be about the future, not re-litigating the 2020 election — and that sends a warning to Trump.
THIS BRINGS US TO MIKE PENCE: The former Vice President, clearly running for president, is dropping the subtlety in his attacks on Trump. Pence spoke at a rally for Kemp yesterday, declaring that the election is “about the future,” an implicit shot at Trump. Kemp is narrowly favored to beat Stacey Abrams in November; she didn’t help her cause this week by declaring Georgia is the “worst state in the country to live.”
WE’LL SEE TOMORROW MORNING how badly the Trump brand was damaged in today’s elections. He’s still enormously powerful in the party, but the grass roots buzz increasingly is about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s just as conservative as Trump — but with a less toxic personality than Trump.
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