Joe Biden’s TikTok Dollar
Biden and Justin Trudeau should think of banning WhatsApp instead
China’s TikTok is in Western crosshairs. The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has su has banned TikTok from government devices. But then Trudeau must wag his tail to his masters in Washington.
The United States’ presidential hopeful Nikki Haley promises to cut billions in foreign aid that the US sends to “enemies including Pakistan and China” if she is elected the POTUS – big ‘if’ with many hopefuls.
The White House has directed federal agencies to remove ByteDance App from government devices and the US Congress has passed a bill to clear the way for President Joe Biden to ban TikTok. Wonder if these blokes know that India banned TikTok in 2020 after the Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh. The public in India has not downloaded the ByteDance app but every second-third WhatsApp message is a TikTok video.
So, Biden and Trudeau should be banning WhatsApp. But that is where Biden would have to think hard because Ukrainian-American billionaire Jan Konum is the co-founder and former CEO of WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for US$19.3 billion. Mark Zuckerberg is the founder, chairman and CEO of Meta, which he originally founded as Facebook in 2004.
But this is about the US Dollar TikToking with Biden splurging it recklessly in warmongering ever since the Biden-Zelenskyy (the Ukraine President installed in Kiev by America) duo started dancing NATO-NATO RRR-style ‘Natu Natu’ and the European leaders tethered to Washington’s kennel were psyched into sleepless nights that the Russian bear has taken a liking to their bodies and souls.
Since the sun set on the British Empire, Britain had no option but to play second fiddle to America. But even French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olof Scholz appear petrified to call Biden’s bluff, ignoring the mounting public protests in their countries to stop fuelling the war in Ukraine which is only benefiting the US. Over the past year, the US has provided Ukraine nearly $50 billion in military and other assistance.
During his recent visit to Kiev, Biden handed over another $500 million to Zelenskyy. Biden’s visit was followed by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen meeting Zelenskyy in Kiev and announcing transfer of "an additional amount of over $1.2 billion" to the Ukrainian government.
Yellen said this would be the first tranche of about $10 billion the US will provide in the coming months, and added, "Our economic support is helping keep the Ukrainian government and critical service providers operational under extraordinary circumstances, including by paying civil servants, firefighters and teachers.”
Biden’s overzealous funding of Ukraine is not difficult to understand. American Professor of Security Studies Christine Fair had revealed earlier that almost 80 percent of money being pumped into Afghanistan (during US-NATO deployment in that country) was being siphoned back to the US. In the case of Ukraine, it may be even more since Hunter Biden is Zelenskyy’s bosom pal and was earning $50,000 every month from a single Ukrainian firm even when Biden was US Vice President. Not surprising then how a grinning Biden greets Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Joe Biden has been merrily playing Santa Claus because printing of dollars was delinked from America’s gold reserves in 1971 by the Richard Nixon regime. With inflation on the rise, and a gold run looming, Nixon ended dollar convertibility to gold and implemented wage and price controls, which brought an end to the Bretton Woods System. The rising inflation also sent Nixon running to hug Mao Zedong in Beijing the next year, 1972.
With an eye on the vote-bank, one focus area of the Biden Administration is financial aid to students, for which measures instituted include the following:
- The broad, zero-interest pause on loan payments begun under President Donald Trump has been extended, student loan payments will resume in summer 2023 after legal challenges around debt cancellation are resolved.
- Existing loan forgiveness programs have been revised, estimates say $38 billion in loans has been canceled for roughly 1.75 million borrowers since the beginning of Biden's term.
- The new income-driven repayment plan will change how payments are calculated and how much income is counted, for most student borrowers who enroll, monthly payments are likely to be cut by half or more.
- A new program aims at wiping out the default of more than seven million student borrowers, bringing severe consequences including possible seizure of tax refunds and Social Security checks and long-lasting impacts on credit.
- The Fresh Start program addresses most of the consequences of default by removing the penalties and making the rehabilitation process cheap and easy for borrowers who choose to rehabilitate their loans and move forward with a payment plan.
- More than 18 million college students have received direct financial aid under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund since the start of 2021. In 2021 alone, educational institutions distributed $19.5 billion worth of emergency grants.
Above are good measures but fuelling the war in Ukraine is and will continue to burden the US economy. The US has the highest external debt in the world, which stood at $31.4 trillion in January 2023.
The US Treasury was forced to implement measures for preventing the US default on debt. But these measures will last only until June 2023, leaving the Congress with four months plus to raise the debt ceiling or risk financial meltdown and stock market crash. In a recent interview with CNN, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan has warned to prepare for a US debt default and a recession that will drag down corporate earnings.
The Biden Administration is trying its level best to convince the Congress to raise the debt ceiling; to enable printing more dollars. Concurrently, European nations are being encouraged to pay money if they cannot supply arms to Kiev, to feed existing supply chains. Either way, the aim is to continue fuelling the war in Ukraine, inflation notwithstanding.
Finally, with neo-Nazis like Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General licking Washington’s boots, Biden can continue waging war endlessly. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has no hesitation in prostituting geopolitically for America at the cost of Ukrainian lives and destruction of his country.
Now in its eagerness to join NATO, Sweden seems to have reduced itself by nominating Stoltenberg for the Nobel Peace Prize – for warmongering?. What can be more shameful and pathetic?
Lt General Prakash Katoch is a veteran of the Indian Army. Views expressed are personal
Cover Photograph Reuters