December 3, 2018

G20 Summit

Leaders of the world’s top economies agreed Saturday to repair the global trading system as they closed a Group of 20 summit that saw the Trump administration at odds with many allies over the Paris accord on climate change and issues like migration.”

AP News

In addition, “China and the United States agreed to a ceasefire in their bitter trade war on Saturday after high-stakes talks in Argentina between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.”


Finally, while Trump had canceled his formal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine, “the two men did end up talking briefly Saturday on the sidelines of the G-20 — just long enough for Trump to ask Putin what he is up to in Ukraine, and for Putin to respond.”

AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of the US’s diminishing role on the world stage, and worried about trade talks with China.

“At most of these G20 meetings, it is less the vast plenary sessions that set the tone and provide the headlines than the one-on-one conferences... But this year, most of these meetings were either removed or downsized at the last minute, leaving Trump curiously muted... Apart from the suspension of the cold war with China, there was little sense that the Trumpian agenda of America First and rest of the world be damned had changed one iota...

"Rather, the rest of the world seems simply to have accepted the new normal from its onetime leader and moved on... While the United States refused to sign the G7 closing communique in June, this year the other G20 signatories simply wrote in American exceptionalism to the document, reflecting the view of much of the western world -- with the exception of the United States.”


Regarding the outcome of Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi, “both sides are selling this agreement as a sign of progress, but the big issues remain unresolved. What’s more, Beijing and Washington might not even agree on what a final deal on trade would look like. The Chinese government said in a statement that both sides seek to reach a ‘mutually beneficial, win-win agreement'...

"But Trump’s previous demands of China sound less like a man in search of a compromise, [and more like] one seeking total domination — basically, the opposite of ‘win-win’...Plus, Trump sees tariffs as the ultimate bargaining chip, and so far that strategy has proven fairly successful... It doesn’t seem likely he’ll back down against China."


“The fact that a decision not to go ahead with a new round of tit-for-tat tariffs is seen as some sort of victory speaks volumes about the weakness of international cooperation. Nobody seriously thought the G20 gathering would address any of the global issues it is there to tackle: preventing another financial crisis and co-ordinating a sustainable growth strategy, for example. It turned into the usual excuse for glad-handing and grandstanding for politicians often quite relieved to get away from troubles back at home."

The Guardian

Finally, some are critical of Trump’s informal conversation with Putin. “The issue of how often Trump and Putin meet — usually outside the earshot of others — has become a more salient issue than ever. The question has increased in importance after revelations last week that Trump had been in negotiations, deep into his presidential campaign, to build a massive tower in Moscow."


The political calendar and Trump's approach could give grounds for optimism. Kim, who has presided over a limited form of economic development inside North Korea, is under pressure to deliver improvements in the lives of his people… So he has an incentive to try to seek economic benefits or aid from the United States and wants punishing economic sanctions lifted — a potential opening for US negotiators… Kim must realize that his chances of basking in this kind of legitimacy with a US President other than Trump are slim. So if he fears Trump could lose in 2020, he may reason the time may be ripe for a deal. And Trump wants nothing more than a big diplomatic breakthrough months before the election.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of Trump’s efforts at the summit.

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of Trump’s efforts at the summit.

Trump’s “cease-fire with China is good news for the economy and American workers... The larger message of this truce is that both sides seem to appreciate that an economic Cold War would benefit neither. The Chinese are worried about their slowing and heavily indebted economy, while Mr. Trump needs growth to have a chance at re-election. The incentive to strike a deal is compelling."

Wall Street Journal

Trump was able to extract a number of concessions from Chinese President Xi...

"Xi agreed to immediately begin buying more agricultural products from American farmers, along with a pledge to purchase more industrial and energy products...Additionally, China has also agreed to label the opioid fentanyl as a controlled substance, making anyone who sells fentanyl to the U.S. subjected to harsher penalties under Chinese law."

Daily Caller

“[The latter] is a huge victory for the United States because much of the Fentanyl currently in the country came from China. Synthetic opioid producers in the United States were buying the lethal product from China online and having it shipped overseas. The heightened classification to a controlled substance will hopefully prevent more shipments of Fentanyl to the United States, saving countless American lives."

Independent Journal-Review

Some, however, worry about “the possibility that there is less to the agreement than it seems. Or even that U.S. officials have heard in Chinese statements what they hoped to hear but not what China actually intended... From the perspective of [China’s] Global Times, Trump essentially agreed to the Chinese perspective on the relations of the two countries...That’s very different from Trump’s own view of the Buenos Aires truce, which he described as ‘an incredible deal’...

“Xi’s statement about ‘two major countries with great influence’ may have special meaning for a Chinese audience familiar with the works of Confucius, one that does not bode well for the notion of future cooperation between the U.S. and China. ‘There cannot two suns in the sky, nor two emperors on earth,’ Confucius said."


As for Trump’s overall approach to the summit, many note that “the United States muscled in ideas that our current leadership favors, and held out on those that our leadership does not favor. We dictated most of the terms. That is a feature, not a bug. Even if you favor policies this administration doesn't, or don't favor those it does, it means the U.S. was back in the driver's seat, and putting our interests first."

PJ Media

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.