Sunday, July 19, 2020

Blaming China is dead end for Trump election hopes

First posted in Asia Times

In April, the US Republican Party issued a playbook for the November election. Put simply: Blame the Covid-19 pandemic and everything else on China and do not bother to defend President Donald Trump. As matters have unraveled since then, it’s becoming obvious the strategy will not work.
Trump and his faithful henchman Mike Pompeo continue to hammer home the message that China did not tell the world about Covid-19 in a timely manner, did not share its knowledge about the virus, and may even have created it in one of its own labs. 
But the narrative lacks authenticity and rings more hollow with repetition. To bolster a tenuous accusation, Pompeo has to exaggerate when the virus first struck in China and the length of time the authorities kept silent. 
While the two sides will never agree between what Pompeo said and China said, it has become obvious that regardless of when the Trump administration knew about the virus, it let weeks if not months go by before taking action.
Trump is betting his re-election on a healthy economy. He is desperately wishing for a normal recovery without paying the price of a nationwide lockdown, testing, mandating wearing facial masks and maintaining social distance. 
Unemployment remains over 11% and nearly 50 million Americans have filed unemployment claims for their first time. To inject liquidity and keep businesses afloat and wage earners from drowning in debt, Congress authorized the sending of checks on a massive scale.
The federal budget deficit for June was well over $800 billion, more than a tenfold increase from the same month last year.
The June World Economic Outlook published by the International Monetary Fund projected that the US economy will shrink by roughly 8% for the year. Canada is slightly worse and Germany slightly better, while most European economies will experience the pain of negative 10% growth or more. 
Only China is expected to show a 1% gain in gross domestic product. The country bit the bullet, clamped down hard and brought the virus under control quickly, measures the Western countries were reluctant to take.
History may well credit Trump’s stupidity for facilitating China’s economic rise and surge past the US. His administration and some poorly informed Republican senators seem to think that the US is the fountainhead of all advanced technology and the Chinese only come to America to steal.