There's only so much negotiating you can do with a country holding a trillion dollars of your debt. Such is the problem facing the U.S. in its relationship with China. U.S. officials can whine, cry, cajole, and promise tougher measures but China holds the cards.
In the last of our 3 part interview with Governor Mitt Romney's senior foreign policy adviser, Robert O'Brien, we discussed what the GOP primary front-runner would do to create a more even playing field in U.S. - China relations.
Step one, says O'Brien, is reducing spending so the U.S. can free itself from the need to borrow such massive sums from the Chinese. "Once we stop borrowing from China the leverage they have over us is reduced dramatically," he says.
From Romney's perspective the trillion dollar debt is a handicap, but the U.S. isn't as powerless as it seems on the surface."Their economy goes into a free fall if they don't sell into this market," says O'Brien admitting, "We need them, but we need them as a partner that will be fair."
Still, with the U.S. so hooked on debt; the agony of withdrawal will be a tough sell to American voters if a hard-line stance with the Chinese fails.
O'Brien says Romney's experience in business has trained him in the art of high-stress negotiating. "Having been a guy in the private sector, having been a business man, he understands how negotiations work." The scale is massively different, of course, but the basic point remains the same: Romney understands how to play the back and forth game in a way the President never will.
By way of a parting shot, O'Brien says the President is "getting pushed around by the Chinese like a tourist," and Mitt Romney is the guy to end America's humiliation.
Is O'Brien right? Can Romney get us on an equal footing with the Chinese? Can anyone? Tell us what you think in the space below and, while you're at it, you can Tweet me @Jeffmacke or Mr. O'Brien @Robertcobrien.
[Note: Breakout has invited the other campaigns and representatives of President Obama to come on the show to and make the case for their candidate.]