As Donald Trump pressed the pedal on imposing tariffs on $200 billion more worth of Chinese goods, Republican lawmakers appeared both legitimately concerned and useless in the face of the monster they’ve unleashed upon the world.
Shortly after the White House announcement, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, fired off a statement decrying Trump’s latest taunt. “Tonight’s announcement appears reckless and is not a targeted approach,” Hatch said.
Trump’s opening bid was imposing tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, but after China hit back, Trump upped the ante and appears ready for more, with an administration official affirming Tuesday they “intend to keep the pressure on.” The administration is still in finger-pointing mode, blaming China for starting the skirmish through unfair trade practices that give it access to the intellectual property of U.S. businesses with locations in the country.
“They were the ones who started everything by hurting us,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Republican senators, in panic mode, commenced a non-binding “test vote” Wednesday on a measure that would give Congress more authority over tariffs imposed for national security reasons—the sham reasoning Trump has used to justify a runaway escapade that includes bullying our closest allies. The measure passed overwhelmingly, 88-11. Still, all the “no” votes came from GOP senators who couldn’t even bring themselves to oppose Trump in theory, let alone in practice.
That vote aside, the GOP has no reasonable plan of action to save themselves from the havoc Trump is now beginning to wreak on American businesses, farms, and consumers. And it’s only gonna get worse.
Deterred by the president’s veto power, the GOP-controlled Congress appears reluctant to take more concrete action checking Trump’s authority.
And as David Rank, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, noted, Chinese officials don’t have any electoral concerns to contend with as they absorb Trump’s blows and hit back.
“Xi Jinping and the Communist Party do not face midterm elections in November,” Rank said of the Chinese president, who is no longer bound by term limits. “Moreover, they will blame any economic troubles on Trump and the United States.”
Electorally speaking, that’s bad news for Republicans and, economically speaking, it’s bad news for America too.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.