Larry Kudlow Tells China to Take Its Best Shot

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Earlier this week, following reports that the U.S. and China were “trying to re-start talks aimed at averting a full-blown trade war,” our very stable genius in chief threatened to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent. To the surprise of exactly no one, China hit back, announcing Friday that it would slap its own tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. exports in retaliation, at rates of 5, 10, 20, and 25 percent, targeting more than 5,200 types of products, including biodiesel, liquefied natural gas, copper, textiles, gin, furniture, lamb, honey, and sporting equipment. Saying “the U.S. side has repeatedly escalated the situation despite the interests of both enterprises and consumers,” the Ministry of Commerce added that “China has to take necessary countermeasures to defend the country’s dignity and the interests of the people, defend free trade and the multilateral system, and defend the common interests of all countries in the world.” At this point, U.S. businesses, suffering layoffs and the possibility of going under, fear there is no end in sight for the conflict between the world’s two largest economies. And National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow’s response to China’s counterattack would suggest they are correct!

Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Friday, Kudlow mocked Beijing’s latest move, saying, “$60 billion is a weak response to our 200 [billion dollars],” and adding, “I’d hate to challenge the Chinese. Not.” Then he called the Chinese economy “lousy,” saying that while the American economy is “doing great,” China’s is “in trouble,” as its “economy is lousy, investors are walking out, the currency is falling.” Apparently worried he hadn’t come off quite as antagonistic as he was hoping, Kudlow threw in that “foreign investors don’t want to be in China. I noticed today that Japan’s stock market is now worth more than China’s—I love that.” He wrapped things up like a mafia consigliere sending a message from his Don, telling reporters that China “better not underestimate President Trump’s determination to follow through on our asks.”

All in all, a really great performance at a time when farmers and other industries getting screwed by the administration’s trade policies are begging Team Trump to fix the mess of its own making. “The big concern for business is we’re caught in the middle of all this,” Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, told Politico. Michael Snow, the executive director of the American Hardwood Export Council, said China’s retaliatory threat to slap levies on products like U.S. hardwood “could be . . . very, very painful.”

And remember, Kudlow is supposed to be the semi-sane one in the White House, at least when it comes to free trade. That he’s basically one step away from piloting a skywriting plane and spelling out “Is that all you bitches got?” over China’s Ministry of Commerce cannot be a good sign.

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