By Gram Slattery
ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis took an aggressive swipe at China, railed against what he described as corporate bailouts, and said he would rein in the Federal Reserve in an economic policy speech on Monday.
The speech contained relatively few new concrete policy proposals, but underlined how far the Republican Party has shifted dramatically in recent years in adopting an increasingly anti-corporate stance.
“We will usher in a new era of growth, prosperity and civic pride,” DeSantis said. “We are a nation with an economy, not the other way around. We are citizens of a republic. We are not cogs in a global economic empire.”
DeSantis was particularly harsh on China and the technology sector which he accused of enriching the East Asian nation to the detriment of Americans.
He told a small group of supporters at a cavernous warehouse in southern New Hampshire that he would eliminate China’s preferential trade status, a policy that he has previously said he supports. Ending it would have a profound impact on global supply chains.
The U.S. Senate voted in 2000 to grant the status to China as it prepared to join the World Trade Organization. That has been blamed by opponents for helping Chinese business at the expense of American jobs.
DeSantis said he would “incentivize the repatriation of U.S. capital” through tax abatements, shift mining in critical minerals from China to the United States, and dramatically limit economic links between the two nations.
“They said if you granted China special trading status and put them in the World Trade Organization, that China would become more democratic,” he said.
“What actually happened over these past 25 years, China has become more authoritarian, more powerful … and we’ve seen our relationship marred by the theft of our intellectual property, trade dumping, currency manipulation and espionage.”
In written bullet points released alongside the speech, DeSantis’ campaign said he would appoint a chair of the Federal Reserve “who will focus on maintaining a stable dollar instead of the political pressures of the day.”
DeSantis did not specify if he would try to end the term of current chair Jerome Powell prematurely.
He added that he would seek to eliminate any attempts by the Fed to impose a central digital currency.
The speech came as DeSantis is seeking to reset his campaign, which burned through some $7.9 million in cash in the first six weeks after he declared a bid on May 24.
Among his strategies is focusing on small-scale retail politics and drilling down on policy.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery in Rochester. Additonal reporting by James Oliphant in Washington. Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)