China tried to strike at Trump for launch­ing a trade war – and missed the mark en­tirely

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group Buf­falo Wil­son (An­other Voice: En­ergy poli­cies can be pro-busi­ness, pro-en­vi­ron­ment, Nov. 29). Buf­falo

WASH­ING­TON – “When you strike at a king you must kill him,” Ralph Waldo Emer­son once said. Well, this year China tried to strike at Pres­i­dent Trump for dar­ing to launch a trade war with Bei­jing – and missed the mark en­tirely.

Af­ter Trump im­posed mas­sive tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods ear­lier this year, Bei­jing re­sponded in June with what ap­peared to be a clever strat­egy: tar­get­ing re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs against Trump vot­ers in ru­ral farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties across the United States. China is the largest im­porter of U.S. soy­beans, buy­ing $14 bil­lion of them in 2017.

Three of the big­gest soy­bean-pro­duc­ing states, In­di­ana, Mis­souri and North Dakota, not only voted for Trump, but also in the 2018 midterms had Demo­cratic sen­a­tors, Joe Don­nell, Ind., Claire McCaskill, Mo., and Heidi Heitkamp, N.D., who were up for re­elec­tion.

If Bei­jing im­posed painful tar­iffs on soy­beans, Chi­nese lead­ers likely cal­cu­lated, they could cre­ate a rift be­tween Trump and ru­ral vot­ers who put him in the White House, give Se­nate Democrats a boost and force Trump to back down.

But Trump did not back down. He coun­tered by an­nounc­ing $12 bil­lion in aid for farm­ers, threat­ened to in­crease his tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods and asked his ru­ral base to stick with him while he faced down the eco­nomic preda­tors in Bei­jing.

That is ex­actly what they did. Far from aban­don­ing the pres­i­dent, ru­ral vot­ers hurt by Chi­nese tar­iffs ral­lied around Trump and the GOP. They threw Don­nelly, Heitkamp and McCaskill out of of­fice, al­low­ing Repub­li­cans to ex­pand their Se­nate ma­jor­ity.

And while Repub­li­cans lost control of the House, few of the GOP losses came from ru­ral dis­tricts. Com­pet­i­tive ru­ral dis­tricts mostly ended up stay­ing Repub­li­can; it was the ur­ban-sub­ur­ban dis­tricts that flipped to the Democrats.

China’s tar­iff ploy didn’t just fail to sway the 2018 midterms; it ac­tu­ally back­fired. The tar­iffs made the U.S. soy­beans that China de­pends on more ex­pen­sive, and Bei­jing soon found that al­ter­na­tive sup­pli­ers in South Amer­ica could not pro­duce enough to meet Chi­nese de­mand, lead­ing to short­falls.

In other words, China went for a kill shot – and ended up shoot­ing it­self in the foot.

That has em­bold­ened Trump in his ne­go­ti­a­tions with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping – as shown by news this week that a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive of Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant Huawei had been ar­rested in Van­cou­ver, at the re­quest of the United States, on charges of vi­o­lat­ing sanc­tions on Iran.

China de­manded her re­lease but nonethe­less af­firmed that it will still ob­serve the 90-day tar­iff cease-fire Trump and Xi reached dur­ing their meet­ing last week in Buenos Aires – putting off a sched­uled Jan. 1 es­ca­la­tion of U.S. tar­iffs from 10 per­cent to 25 per­cent on $200 bil­lion of Chi­nese goods while the two sides ne­go­ti­ate a deal. Trump has lever­age go­ing into those talks. The U.S. econ­omy is boom­ing, while China has just posted its weak­est growth in nearly a decade. More­over, dur­ing the Group of 20 meet­ing in Ar­gentina, Xi saw how Trump has been able to bend his trade ri­vals to his will, and de­liver trade vic­to­ries for his work­ing-class po­lit­i­cal base, when he held an elab­o­rate sign­ing cer­e­mony for the new U.S.-Mex­ico-Canada trade agree­ment.

China will of course be a much tougher ad­ver­sary than Mex­ico or Canada. As my Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute col­league Derek Scis­sors points out, the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party con­trols the econ­omy through state own­er­ship and mas­sive sub­si­dies in dozens of sec­tors where U.S. goods and ser­vices can’t com­pete fairly. Lift­ing tar­iffs is easy.

Get­ting China to change its en­tire in­dus­trial pol­icy will be hard – as will stop­ping China’s theft of U.S. in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty.

But Trump knows that he has no chance of do­ing so by fil­ing com­plaints with the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion. So Trump is play­ing a game of chicken with Xi, ap­pear­ing to calculate that the United States is in a bet­ter po­si­tion to sur­vive an all-out trade war.

The mar­kets pan­icked this week over Trump’s re­cent pro­nounce­ment that he would be just as happy im­pos­ing tar­iffs as cut­ting a deal with China, but get­ting this mes­sage through to Xi is the only way to force his hand. As Trump tweeted this week, “We are ei­ther go­ing to have a REAL DEAL with China, or no deal at all – at which point we will be charg­ing ma­jor Tar­iffs against Chi­nese prod­uct be­ing shipped into the United States,” adding, “re­mem­ber … I am a Tar­iff Man.”

He means it. Trump ac­tu­ally be­lieves that tar­iffs are good for the U.S. econ­omy. The ques­tion is whether Xi be­lieves he be­lieves it. The an­swer may de­ter­mine whether we get a deal or a trade war.

Marc Thiessen End the celibacy rule and let priests marry

When­ever some­one ac­cuses a priest of sex­ual abuse they should call the po­lice, be­cause it is a po­lice mat­ter first, and then coun­sel the per­son mak­ing the ac­cu­sa­tion and also see if it ver­i­fi­able.

Also, it’s time to end the celibacy rule now, be­cause of the high per­cent­age of abuse cases in the Catholic priest­hood. I do blame the un­nat­u­ral celibacy rule on much of the sex abuse that is go­ing on in the Catholic Church.

It is the high per­cent­age of sex abuse cases in the Catholic priest­hood that is proof that it is a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem and that it must end now.

Al­though end­ing the celibacy rule does not end sex abuse en­tirely, it will have a dra­matic ef­fect and per­haps save many chil­dren from this sin and crime. It will also save many priests from com­mit­ting a crime that they prob­a­bly did not want to com­mit in the first place.

I be­lieve that young men en­tered the priest­hood to do good for them­selves and their parish­ioners, never think­ing they would be­come in­volved in such hor­ren­dous sins. Al­most all hu­man be­ings need love, mar­riage, home and chil­dren, be­cause it is nat­u­ral and it is what God has cre­ated us for.

“Go forth and mul­ti­ply.” The popes have taken this God-given nat­u­ral right from these young men and now look at the re­sults.

The stalling, pro­cras­ti­nat­ing and eva­sive­ness by the bish­ops and car­di­nals only shows that they are more in­ter­ested in pro­tect­ing the church’s money and the in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized rule of celibacy than they are in help­ing the vic­tim/sur­vivors.

The bish­ops, car­di­nals and pope will not ad­mit they are wrong. How sin­ful!

Carl Hoepfin­ger the 195-na­tion agree­ment that was im­ple­mented to ad­dress this prob­lem. Lo­cally we seek to avoid the dele­te­ri­ous ef­fects of “flick­ers” when a wind tur­bine blade crosses our vis­ual path to the sun.

We get to choose. Will we ac­com­mo­date the mi­nor in­con­ve­niences of wind and so­lar en­ergy or will our chil­dren suf­fer the cat­a­strophic con­se­quences of our in­ac­tion?

Robert W. Moore

Cli­mate pro­tec­tion act would cost ratepay­ers

A re­cent guest edi­to­rial made some bold claims about how New York’s busi­nesses and ratepay­ers feel about the pro­posed Cli­mate and Com­mu­nity Pro­tec­tion Act

On be­half of Un­shackle Up­state, a non­par­ti­san coali­tion rep­re­sent­ing thou­sands of busi­nesses and tax­pay­ers across up­state New York, I write to ask a key ques­tion that the authors did not ad­dress – what will the CCPA cost en­ergy ratepay­ers?

The re­al­ity is this leg­is­la­tion – which would man­date that all en­ergy in New York State be gen­er­ated by re­new­ables – would sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the al­ready sky-high en­ergy costs that most busi­nesses and ratepay­ers face. A 2013 study by re­searchers at Stan­ford and Cor­nell found that achiev­ing 100 per­cent re­new­able en­ergy in the state by 2030 would cost more than $380 bil­lion.

Up­state New York’s fam­i­lies and busi­nesses sim­ply can­not af­ford to pay bil­lions more each year in en­ergy costs.

Re­new­able en­ergy is an im­por­tant part of our en­ergy port­fo­lio and New York has many pro­grams to help the in­dus­try. These ef­forts, how­ever, should not come at the ex­pense of vi­able en­ergy sources, like nat­u­ral gas, which serve busi­nesses and house­holds to­day, and do not rely on state sub­si­dies for sus­tain­abil­ity.

De­spite what the authors claim, I have never heard an up­state busi­ness or a house­hold ask for higher util­ity bills. But en­ergy ratepay­ers need to know that the Cli­mate and Com­mu­nity Pro­tec­tion Act will mean pay­ing more for en­ergy. Michael Kracker Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Un­shackle Up­state

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