Balance of Power: How George Soros Ended Up on Hungarian Election BillboardsBy
U.S. Democratic mega-donor George Soros — also a major patron of democracy in ex-communist eastern Europe — has become a political bogeyman in his native Hungary.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, an anti-Muslim leader who’s promised to build an “illiberal democracy” modeled on Russia, has taken to demonizing Soros and the European Union as interlopers who have helped ruin the “old, magnificent Europe from before the time of multiculturalism.”
Orban’s Fidesz party has targeted Soros — a billionaire financier who was a chief donor to Barack Obama’s election bids — in a nationwide, taxpayer-funded billboard campaign that’s been criticized as anti-Semitic.
The Hungarian developments follow euroskeptic gains in last weekend’s Czech election and a warning from Poland’s human-rights commissioner that the country — the EU’s largest eastern member — is heading toward authoritarian rule.
If Orban’s call for Europeans to “take back control of their nations” from Brussels resonates, it could be a sign that ties are rapidly eroding in the former communist east.
Xi’s power grows | The Communist Party approved a sweeping charter revision at the end of its twice-a-decade congress that elevated President Xi Jinping to a status alongside the likes of Mao Zedong. The move could mean Xi holds sway over policy in China for decades. The focus now is whether he signals a designated heir tomorrow when the new lineup for the party’s ultimate Politburo Standing Committee is revealed.
Republicans need a tax huddle | Contradictory statements from cabinet officials and lawmakers’ uncertainty about Trump’s red lines are undermining the push for a tax-code overhaul. “We need to know what the president wants to do to try to coordinate it with him,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said after Trump shot down a Republican idea to reduce annual limits on 401(k) retirement contributions. “So far, I’m not quite sure where he’s going.”
Taylor the dove? | With Trump “very, very close” to announcing his Federal Reserve chair pick, Bloomberg’s Rich Miller examines the views of two of the top contenders – Stanford University professor John Taylor and current chief Janet Yellen – on inflation and rates. Taylor may end up being more relaxed about inflation than Yellen, which could keep borrowing costs lower for longer.
U.S. patience wears thin on Myanmar | Ahead of Trump’s visit to Southeast Asia, the U.S. is considering new sanctions on Buddhist-majority Myanmar for its treatment of the nation’s Rohingya Muslims, with nearly 1 million of them having fled to neighboring Bangladesh. The State Department has stopped potential travel waivers for current and former Myanmar military leaders, and may yet target individuals associated with any atrocities.
Brexit uncertainty | Businesses are going to have to get used to the uncertainty. That was the message U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May delivered yesterday as she said a quick deal to secure a smooth transition after Brexit won’t be possible. Any agreement on a bridging period has to be part of the broader accord, as both sides need clarity on where they are headed. That’s not what businesses, egged on by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, have been looking for.
And finally… Trump talks a tough game against “Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un but looks likely to break with modern presidential tradition and skip a visit to the Demilitarized Zone between South Korea and North Korea during his trip to the region next month. President George H.W. Bush is the only U.S. leader since Ronald Reagan in 1983 not to have stopped at the DMZ — a stark backdrop for a show of resolve against Pyongyang. (Bush did visit as Reagan’s vice president.) Bill Clinton memorably walked partially down the Bridge of No Return, giving his security detail a scare. Vice President Mike Pence visited the DMZ in April.
— With assistance by Kathleen Hunter, and Karl Maier