Nat’l Economic Council Head Deese: Lifting Tariffs on China Fits with Defending ‘Liberal World Order’ – Must ‘Be Smarter’ on Fighting China

During an interview aired on Thursday’s edition of Bloomberg TV’s “Surveillance,” White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese responded to a question on how the administration can maintain that high gas prices are part of defending the post-World War II “liberal world order” while also weighing removing tariffs on the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party that the Biden administration has accused of committing genocide by saying that we have “to be smarter” about how we are “tougher and clearer” on China’s human rights abuses and non-market practices and President Donald Trump’s China trade policy didn’t really help the economy.

Deese began by explaining his comments on the liberal world order by stating, “That’s a concept that Republicans and Democrats have embraced for years and it’s about democracy. It’s about the democracy and the democratic tradition that grew out of World War II and that has served our national security interests and economic interests well. And standing up for democracy is something that this president feels strongly about. And so, we are going to fight to bring prices down. We’re going to fight to get increased oil supply on the market. But what we’re not going to do is to suggest that the only way to do that is to actually step away from the Ukrainian people, to step away from fighting for democracy and everything that that [unintelligible].”

Co-host Jonathan Ferro then asked, “If standing up for democracy is truly paramount, and you’ve quite clearly just suggested it is, why is this administration considering removing tariffs on a Chinese Communist Party which is anything but a democracy, and is also a government that you’ve accused of genocide? Why is that a consideration? And how does that reconcile with this view that this is about standing up for democracy?”

Deese responded, “Our economic policy should be about promoting economic security for American workers, American businesses, and American families. And so, we have to look at everything through that lens. In the prior administration, they took an approach to escalating trade tensions and a trade war with China that ultimately didn’t serve that purpose. It didn’t help our farmers and our ranchers. It didn’t help many sectors of the economy. So, President Biden came into office committed to the proposition that we need to get tough on China. There are places where we need to be tougher and clearer about their non-market practices, about their human rights abuses. But we also need to be smarter about how to do this as well.”

Ferro then asked, “Why is that smarter? … You’ve accused the Chinese Communist Party of genocide. You’re saying that what is paramount here is defending democracy and that defending the liberal world order is more important than the pain that people feel at the pump. And ultimately, this administration’s considering removing tariffs. I wasn’t convinced by the last answer. I don’t think many others will [be] either. This is an awkward moment, I know. But I really need to understand from you why it makes sense for this administration to consider removing tariffs on a country that you’re accusing of genocide.”

Deese answered, “First of all, I want to — you mischaracterized my position so I want to clarify. Bringing prices down for the American people is the president’s top priority. He’s focused on it every day, and it’s because he understands the pain that people are feeling at the gas pump and around the kitchen table. At the same time, he does not believe that the way to do that would be to step back from our democratic values or to step back from protecting the Ukrainians against the invasion from Vladimir Putin. He does not believe that that is an acceptable or an appropriate choice. So, given that, our focus is on how can we actually advance the ball. And you’re seeing the president in action right now, doing that. The actions that he’s taken around oil supply. The actions that he has taken around refineries. The actions that he is calling for around tax reductions, they all would make a difference.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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