Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. – The Who
Well, it looks like Republican primary voters got fooled again.
The president they chose to shake up the Republican Party and the nation made it clear this week he intends to do neither. He cozied up to Janet Yellen, to loose monetary policy, to the Export-Import Bank, and to the Chinese Communist regime (Atlantic). Only the racialists and the corporatists were left with pledges unbroken.
The last of these (regarding the CCP), I’ll address first, as Trump himself doubled down (not my words, but Politico‘s – although it’s an accurate term) on his newfound love of “engagement” with Zhongnanhai.
“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.
This question reveals a critical weaknesses of Trump’s: his ignorance of what the CCP is actually doing “on the North Korean problem.” Indeed, Politico also had several experts discuss just how much the CCP is working against us, not with us, in northern Korea.
For at least a decade, North Korea has sidestepped U.S. and United Nations sanctions against its own trading and financial institutions by establishing a global network of front companies, shell companies and third-country agents to seek parts, technology and financing for its weapons programs, according to interviews with current and former counterproliferation officials and congressional documents.
These front companies rely on assistance provided by Chinese banks to gain access to U.S. and global financial systems, often by conducting transactions in U.S. dollars, and on Chinese businesses to obtain weapons parts, according to those sources.
One of the financial institutions the senators cited as facilitating North Korea’s weapons programs is one of China’s biggest — the Bank of China — raising concerns among U.S. officials that at least some of the assistance being giving to Pyongyang is state-sponsored.
The assistance provided by Chinese entities to North Korea goes as far back as the 1960s, and includes some state-run operations, according to current and former national security officials here and overseas, other experts and a POLITICO review of counterproliferation documents.
During that time, Chinese businessmen and financiers also helped spread technology to virtually all of the world’s other illicit WMD programs too, including some assistance on chemical and biological agents, these sources say.
As the citation notes, this has been an issue for decades, and yet successive Administrations have let the CCP off the hook – including, based on Trump’s recent comments, this one.
Most candidates for president not running for re-election talk tough on the CCP, only to refuse to walk the walk once they enter office. Trump was supposed to be different. Simply put, he wasn’t. Whatever faith anti-Communists placed in Trump was misplaced.
This isn’t the only issue where Trump has used outsider credibility to enter office only to embrace insider policies. The most symbolically important of these was the Export-Import Bank, which has divided the Republican Party for half a decade. As a candidate, Trump opposed it, endearing himself to otherwise skeptical economic conservatives who were not his natural “base” of voters. Yet, last week, he repeated the very arguments for the Bank’s existence that he attacked at this time last year.
It’s a similar story regarding interest rate policy (which is a much bigger deal than Ex-Im – and I say that as one of the latter’s fiercest opponents). Again, Candidate Trump expressed well-founded concerns over interest rates that were too low and monetary policy that was too loose (indeed, Alan Greenspan’s soft money policies of 2003-5 had a heavy hand in causing the infamous housing bubble of the decade). Yet now President Trump is swallowing the Keynesian assumption whole, and endorsing low interest rates. Once again, economic conservatives (or at least those who suspended disbelief long enough to support him) are left with broken promises.
In the end, those of us who never trusted Trump are vindicated: he has returned to his baser instincts (corporatism and racialism) and jettisoned the rest. Sadly, it comes to late to prevent his election. I do hope it can help prevent his re-election in three years time.