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Opinion: 2020 Dems clueless when it comes to one of the most critical economic challenges facing the

This article originally appeared on on May 17, 2019.

No, the 1990s didn’t call to say they want their old trade policy back.

When it comes to American trade policy toward China, though, the candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination are about 20 years behind President Trump.

Liberals have complained bitterly about the president’s aggressive approach to the ongoing trade dispute with China, particularly his use of targeted counter-tariffs to pressure China into stopping its most pernicious trade abuses. Trump’s opponents accuse him of starting a dangerous “trade war” with China, but in reality, China has been waging economic war against the U.S. for decades. President Trump just decided it was time for America to start fighting back. CNBC recently sent out a questionnaire to the top 21 Democrat presidential hopefuls asking how they would handle China as president. The response rate was pathetic. Most candidates couldn’t even muster up an answer – presumably because they didn’t have one they found politically acceptable.

For example, frontrunner Joe Biden failed to respond after laughing off the idea that China even poses a threat to the U.S., an absurd position that he reiterated several days later following criticism for his original comments. Of course, the Obama/Biden administration never could figure out how to deal with China. President Barack Obama even wondered aloud at a campaign event in 2016 what “magic wand” then-candidate Trump would employ to get a better deal with China if he were elected. Given Biden’s comments, I can see why taking a tough stance with targeted tariffs never occurred to them.

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