Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick to lead the Treasury Department, has been urged by the Democrats to sanction the US’ adversaries even more aggressively than the Trump administration. She said she already has her sights set on China.
In a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, Yellen spoke in favor of ?joe Biden’s proposed “fair and progressive tax code,” which Republicans have warned would raise the tax burden on the US’ already squeezed middle class. She also spoke of the need to “go big” with economic stimulus and unemployment benefits.
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However, Yellen was also urged to “go big” in exercising the Treasury Department’s power to sanction the US’ foreign adversaries. “The Trump administration failed to be as aggressive on sanctions,” Washington Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) claimed, before telling Yellen, “I want to be sure you use that as an economic tool.”
The Trump administration extensively sanctioned Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Turkey, and a host of other individuals, businesses, and governments it deemed unsavory. Far from being shy to sanction foreigners, the Trump-era Treasury, under Steven Mnuchin, issued so many sanctions that even the hawkish neoconservatives over at Foreign Policy magazine warned of a “growing geopolitical backlash.”
Former UN official and human rights lawyer Alfred-Maurice de Zayas has called sanctions a form of terrorism, stating that they “invariably impact, directly or indirectly, the poor and vulnerable.” In Venezuela alone, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that sanctions could be directly linked to 40,000 deaths between 2017 and 2018.
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Should Yellen be confirmed, her use of sanctions will be dictated by the foreign policy of the Biden administration at large. Biden has thus far packed his State Department with Obama administration alumni, many of whom favor an interventionist foreign policy.
Yellen did, however, say that her department will be taking aim at Beijing. Speaking to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Yellen said she was prepared to use a “full array” of tools to combat what she called China’s “illegal, unfair, and abusive” economic policies.
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