By Bill Maher
One of the first of Trump’s Great Deals has come through! For the first time in more than a decade, China is going to buy our beef! Our beef industry is thrilled. Trump is thrilled, and tried to make it known during last week’s shitstorm, tweeting, “China just agreed that the US will be allowed to sell beef, and other major products, into China once again. This is REAL news.”
China just agreed that the U.S. will be allowed to sell beef, and other major products, into China once again. This is REAL news!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Maybe, but it’s not big news. And like anything Trump-related, there’s a seamy underbelly: Toxic Chinese chicken is coming our way.
But first, let’s talk beef. China banned American beef back in 2003, over the Mad Cow Disease scare. That was obviously a long time ago, and the disease scare has been over for more than a decade. It’s not that selling beef to China hasn’t been thought about since then, but nobody has pushed it, because 1) the market isn’t THAT big or desirable, and 2) China has been holding this ban in place as a bargaining chip.
For the first point – the Chinese beef market is about $2.5 billion, which is real money, but according to Forbes, “trivial in the sense of the economy. It’s 0.01 percent of the US economy, actually.” In terms of the trade deficit, “there would have to be 200 more decisions like this to close that deficit, and there just aren’t 200 things like this to be discussed.”
But worse, the second point – we did indeed give China something in return: The right to sell cooked chicken products in the US. While that’s not as bad as raw chicken, this deal has been stalled for over a decade because of concern over China’s lousy record enforcing food safety laws. Avian flu pops up all the time, but that’s just one concern. They’ve got hundreds of violations throughout their food industry, ranging from contaminated baby formula, to rat meat being sold as lamb, to processing plants selling stale meat repackaged with new expiration dates. China’s FDA reported a half-million food safety violations in just the first three quarters of last year. Enjoy your nuggets!
All that made us think the deal wasn’t worth the risk. Until now. So it’s worth pointing out that Trump didn’t make a Great Deal. He took the shitty one that both Bush and Obama wouldn’t.