China’s Ticking Time Bomb

Happy Wednesday! As is always the case with these regional meetups, we were blown away by the turnout and the quality conversations at Café Hollander in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, last night!

Next up: Des Moines. Iowans, keep an eye out for additional details in the coming weeks!

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will travel to China next week, the Commerce Department confirmed Tuesday. Raimondo, whose unclassified email was the target of a Chinese hack earlier this year, will be the latest in a series of Biden administration officials to visit the country as the United States implements export and investment restrictions on  China. Ahead of the trip, the Biden administration lifted some limits on exports to 27 Chinese entities while also imposing visa restrictions on some Chinese officials for abuses against Tibetan children.
  • The Biden administration on Tuesday rolled out another student loan repayment plan, months after the Supreme Court struck down Biden’s effort to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for some borrowers. The SAVE Plan—Saving on a Valuable Education—will adjust loan repayment based on income and household size and caps interest accrual for borrowers who enroll.
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith subpoenaed several FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents on Monday in an effort to probe whistleblowers’ allegations regarding the investigation into Hunter Biden. The Republican lawmakers believe—based on claims by IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley—that the subpoenaed officials were privy to an October 7, 2022, meeting where David Weiss, the federal prosecutor investigating Biden, may have suggested the decision whether or not to bring charges was not ultimately in his hands. 
  • John Eastman—one of former President Donald Trump’s former advisors and a co-defendant in the Fulton County, Georgia, case regarding attempts to overthrow the 2020 election—turned himself in to Fulton County authorities Tuesday with an arraignment expected in the next several weeks. The judge overseeing the case ruled Tuesday the arraignments—including that of Trump—could be televisedMeanwhile former assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark and David Shafer, one of the fake electors, joined Mark Meadows in filing notices of removal to have the case taken out of state court and moved into the federal system. 
  • Existing home sales fell in July for the fourth time in five months, slipping by 2.2 percent month-over-month and 16.6 percent yearly, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. The slump comes amid rising mortgage rates, limited supply, and spiking home prices—the national median existing-home price rose 1.9 percent in July from the previous year. 
  • Iran unveiled a drone—similar in design to the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone—Tuesday which it says has a range making it capable of reaching Israel. Iran’s state-run news agency claimed the new unmanned aerial vehicle could carry a bomb with a more than 600 pound payload or surveillance equipment.
  • President Joe Biden appointed Ed Siskel as the new White House Counsel Tuesday. Previously deputy counsel during the Obama administration and counsel in the Chicago mayor’s office under Rahm Emmanuel, Siskel will replace Stuart Delery, whose departure Biden announced last week. 
  • Former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida said Tuesday she will challenge Sen. Rick Scott for his seat in 2024. Mucarsel-Powell served one term in Congress from 2018-2020 and is currently the only candidate running against Scott, who was formerly governor of Florida. 
  • A Chicago woman was charged Monday with threatening to shoot former President Donald Trump and his teenage son Barron in a series of emails to the headmaster of Barron Trump’s Florida school in May and June. Tracy Fiorenza—whom the Secret Service has been aware of for several years and whom law enforcement officials say struggles with mental health issues for which she’s stopped taking her medication—was remanded into the custody of U.S. Marshals and will likely be transferred to Florida, where the charges were filed.

China’s Beaten Economic Path

HANGZHOU, CHINA – AUGUST 18, 2023 – The logo of Evergrande Real Estate is seen at the construction site of a real estate project in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, August 18, 2023. (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Traveling outside of China for just the second time in 2023, President Xi Jinping was scheduled to deliver a speech in Johannesburg on Tuesday during the annual BRICS Summit that features Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. At the last minute, however, he decided to skip it. Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao spoke instead.

The summit came a week after dismal economic data showed the Chinese economy continues to sour—perhaps the reason for Xi’s speaking absence. Bad news in China is like fight club: you don’t talk about it. For example, the National Bureau of Statistics suspended its reporting on youth unemployment last week after it reached 21.3 percent in June—the highest rate since China started publishing the data in 2018. And more storm clouds are on the horizon for the “miracle economy.”

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