Biden moves to ease trade turmoil threatening his solar energy ambitions

“President Joe Biden won’t impose new tariffs on imports of solar power equipment for two years to help ease the fears that have slowed the growth in the renewable energy sector, and will invoke the Defense Production Act to spur domestic manufacturing of critical clean energy technologies, including solar panel parts.

The moves come as the solar energy industry has been roiled by a Commerce Department probe into whether companies in four Southeast Asian countries have circumvented the tariffs on Chinese shipments of solar equipment to the U.S. Those fears have slowed the development of large projects that are crucial to meeting the Biden administration’s goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the power sector by 2035.”

Why Biden’s off-the-cuff comment about defending Taiwan matters

“at a news conference in Tokyo, Biden was asked by a journalist: “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”

“Yes,” said Biden. “That’s the commitment we made.”

Biden’s remark might be a big deal. US policy toward Taiwan has been one of “strategic ambiguity” for four decades — supporting Taiwan’s independence without quite saying so. As part of the “One China” policy, the US does not recognize the democratic island nation of Taiwan, but maintains “a robust unofficial relationship” with it, according to the State Department. (The US supports Taiwan with weapons and has deep economic ties with the country.) In a phrase, Biden broke down that convention.

At the same time, it wasn’t a particularly revelatory moment. It was actually the third time that Biden has said something along these lines. In October 2021, Biden stated a similar “commitment” to Taiwan. In August 2021, Biden compared the US approach to Taiwan to its pledge to defend NATO countries. (An official then walked back those remarks).

All of those comments reveal a lot about Biden’s tendency for undisciplined, off-the-cuff responses — another example is his remark in late March that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” — but don’t necessarily represent major policy shifts.

Today, once again, the White House quickly disavowed Biden’s statement. “As the president said, our policy has not changed,” a White House official said.”

Biden races against time to unlock Ukraine’s trapped grain

“The Biden administration and European allies have been working for weeks to build out the European Union’s “solidarity lanes,” a patchwork of ad hoc rail and truck land routes out of Ukraine, with the eventual goal of shipping the bulk of the grain to Romania’s seaports, so it can reach fragile countries across Africa and the Middle East reeling from food shortages and severe drought. But for now, they’re trying to keep it from being stolen by Russian forces or spoiling in makeshift containers inside Ukraine as the fighting continues.”

Biden Is Right: We Shouldn’t Restrict Americans in the Name of Liberating Cuba

“The move reinstates the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which from 2007 to 2016 allowed up to 20,000 Cubans per year to come and stay in the U.S. while applying for permanent legal resident status. It also removes the $1,000-per-quarter restriction on how much money Americans can send to family, friends, and private entities across the Florida Straits.”

“Lifting government prohibitions on the movement and trade of Americans is a good policy in and of itself, regardless of impact on captive peoples abroad. But is the impact of increased travel and remittances on balance good or bad for Cubans?

Menendez argues that “nothing changed” as a result of Barack Obama’s decision to ease restrictions. By the unreasonable standard of regime change or even significant liberalization, the senator is correct. But by the standard of measurable differences in living conditions and relationship with the government, things indeed changed. As I wrote after visiting the island in 2016 for the first time in 18 years:

“A noticeable segment of the population has gained at least some financial and experiential independence from the police state. They are not, in my observation, spending that extra money on flower arrangements for the Revolution. As Sen. Jeff Flake (R–Arizona) told us during our visit, “You have about 25 percent of Cubans who work fully in the private sector….The big change is the number of Cubans being able to not have to rely on government and therefore can hold their government more accountable.”””

“Menendez’s statement nods toward the potential universality of his foreign policy vision: “Today is another reminder that we must ground our policy in that reality, reaffirm our nation’s indiscriminate commitment to fight for democracy from Kyiv to Havana, and make clear we will measure our success in freedom and human rights and not money and commerce.”
That logic, applied evenly, suggests at minimum the dismantling of the World Trade Organization and the imposition of travel restrictions on Americans seeking to visit not just Havana but the more than 60 countries categorized by Freedom House as “not free.” Menendez would never openly advocate such an approach, because that approach would be both politically suicidal and logically insane.

Cuba has long been the crystallization of America’s worst foreign policy instincts. Good on the Biden administration for easing that somewhat.”

The Biden experts waging war without weapons

“an economy the magnitude of Russia’s, the 11th largest in the world, has never been sanctioned so comprehensively. Going after a central bank of this size, a major economy’s connections to international banking systems, and many of its sectors, is indeed unprecedented. And to target an economy that large unleashes unintended consequences on Russia, the US, and the globe.

Russia is a major energy exporter, and energy prices are rising and sending inflation even higher. Russia also exports significant amounts of grains, cooking oils, and fertilizer. So sanctioning the country — even with carve-outs and waivers for humanitarian purposes — could have a devastating impact on vulnerable people in poor countries. The United Nations says that economic sanctions will impact Russian and Ukrainian food production, which is exacerbated by the war and Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports. One possible outcome, the UN reports, is that “the global number of undernourished people could increase by 8 to 13 million people in 2022/23.””

““We all worry about the overuse of sanctions, but I think that this is clearly not a case of overuse,” an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity told me. “This is a case of responding to a clear and egregious violation of basic tenets of international law and human rights. I think this is a case of indisputable agreement that the world needs to respond and sanctions are an appropriate tool.””

Biden’s Plan for Reducing Inflation Will Actually Make It Worse

“Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the president outlined three policy choices to deal with an inflation caused, he seems to believe, largely by pandemic-related supply-chain obstructions and intensified by the war in Ukraine. His plan is simple: Continue to trust that one of the main architects of our current inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, will raise interest rates fast and high enough to tame inflation without crashing the economy, dispense more subsidies and tax credits, and let the deficit melt away—by some miracle—without cutting spending.

Absent from the piece is any acknowledgement of what readers of this column know all too well: that inflation was fueled by Biden’s own reckless spending policies, especially the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021. Half a dozen or so studies have shown that fiscal policies implemented during COVID-19 are a main culprit behind today’s inflation. Biden also fails to mention the Fed’s overly accommodating monetary policy and its current slow response to inflation.

In other words, the president’s argument is amazing for its tone-deafness, inconsistent thinking, and sheer economic ignorance.”

Biden Is Deporting Venezuelans to Colombia

“Record numbers of Venezuelan migrants have crossed into the United States from Mexico in recent months, hoping to apply for asylum. U.S. immigration authorities reported 24,819 Venezuelan border crossers in December 2021, compared to just 200 one year prior.

Despite the compelling case many Venezuelans have for seeking refuge in the U.S., the Biden administration is denying many of them that opportunity. Instead it is quietly deporting them to Colombia—a policy that resembles a controversial Trump administration practice.”

” In March 2021, Biden’s DHS announced an 18-month “temporary protected status” for Venezuelans already present in the U.S. That designation, which protects migrants from expulsion, is reserved for people fleeing an “ongoing armed conflict,” “an environmental disaster, or an epidemic,” or “other extraordinary and temporary conditions.” The designation applies to 320,000 Venezuelans in the U.S. but excludes newcomers, despite the Biden administration’s explicit recognition that America should be a safe haven.”

Biden Begins Using Clemency To Ameliorate the Damage Done by the Draconian Drug Policies He Long Supported

“Although Biden waited more than 15 months before issuing any pardons or commutations, that delay compares favorably to those of many previous presidents. Even Barack Obama, who ultimately granted a record 1,715 commutations, did not approve any until the last year of his first term, and then just one. Obama did not get serious until the third year of his second term, and the vast majority of his commutations came during his last year in office.

That sort of timing is typical. Presidents tend to treat clemency as an afterthought rather than an ongoing process of correcting injustices, partly because they figure any political backlash against their decisions will be limited if they make them on their way out the door. Biden evidently anticipates that the net political impact of freeing nonviolent drug offenders will be positive, which is a good sign.”

Elizabeth Warren Wants Joe Biden To Deliver a Massive, Illegal Handout to the Well-Off

“First, it’s worth noting that people with college degrees are more likely to both be employed and, on average, are better paid than those who never attended college. People who attend college are also more likely to come from comparatively affluent households in the first place.

Second, it’s worth asking: Who has $50,000 worth of school loans? Not, for the most part, struggling dropouts from state schools. No, large student loan values are heavily associated with professional schools that produce graduates who, on average, go on to be fairly well-compensated.

The single largest source of student loan debt is MBA programs, as Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Adam Looney has noted, and MBA grads average more than $73,000 in earnings their first year out of school. “The five degrees responsible for the most student debt are: MBA, JD, BA in business, BS in nursing, and MD,” Looney wrote in 2020. “That’s one reason why the top 20 percent of earners owe 35 percent of the debt, and why most debt is owed by well-educated individuals.”

Technically, it’s true that well-paid professional school graduates fall into the category of “working people.” But they are not the sort of working people Warren wants you to think of when she uses those words.

What Warren wants, and what Biden appears to be considering, is a massive program of government aid that would disproportionately benefit doctors, lawyers, well-paid medical specialists, and comfortably salaried individuals with advanced business degrees.

But for some reason, you don’t hear Warren and Biden talking about their plan to give huge amounts of money to corporate lawyers and junior associates at hedge funds.”

“a program to forgive $50,000 per borrower would come in at around $950 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. This would be in addition to the cost of the current pause on student loan repayment, which has already cost more than $100 billion.

Warren’s pitch for a presidential program to help “working people” is a trillion-dollar bailout for the upper-middle class.”