By Political Correspondent Charles Barnes
LITUDINEM: Since the start of the Xiomeran Civil War, which began nearly three years ago, the Brown administration has maintained a controversial stance of neutrality—which opponents have often characterized as callous indifference—towards the rapidly degrading political situation in Huenya. Since the start of the conflict, Libertas Omnium Maximus has maintained strong economic ties with Xiomera and offered minimal support to the Huenyan state. Beyond recognizing the fledgling Huenyan nation as autonomous in 2021 following the ratification of the Jinyu Agreement, which has been flagrantly and continuously violated by the Xiomeran government, the Brown administration has been seemingly unwilling to call out Xiomeran advances into Huenya via the practical annexation of “Western Xiomera” earlier this year and Xiomeran support of the ongoing Golden Blade Insurgency, which pushed into the Huenyan capital of Chuaztlapoc in September. This stance has placed the nation at odds with many of its closest allies.
In response, a peculiar alliance of Maximusian senators spanning the political spectrum are reportedly attempting to pull together the votes to substantially increase tariffs on Xiomeran goods without their president’s rubberstamp. On Wednesday, legislation was introduced to the House of the Domain floor by Representative Darcy Clark, a Progressive from Vircetta, despite Brown’s insistence that he will not sign any legislation which meaningfully increases tariffs against Xiomera for the time being. The bill, ST 4040, which has five other cosponsors, including Robert Winthrop of Scapardie, a Conservative Party representative and 2024 Presidential candidate, would increase tariffs on certain Xiomeran industrial goods by 30% and machine parts by 17%. While the bill is almost certain to be ratified by the legislature, President Brown is expected to not grant his assent and return the bill unsigned to the legislature for amendment or simply pocket the bill.
In the event of a presidential line-item veto, Representative Clark would need to obtain 152 votes from the House of the People and 23 from the House of the Domain in order to legally compel Brown to grant his assent to the bill. Political analysts are unsure if she has the votes to do so. Even assuming Clark does not have to contend with defections from her own party or coalition, getting the votes needed for a legislative override will be an uphill battle. In the House of the People, 36 Conservatives and/or Christian Union members will need to defect in order to see the bill passed. A Party of 1837 representative could also theoretically defect, but, given the party’s ardent free-trade stance, relying on such an occurrence would be beyond a Hail-Mary. The success of this bill seems an even longer shot in the House of the Domain, where more than half of Conservative representatives would need to defect to see the bill pass.
Although the bill will likely fail, it sends a strong message to potential candidates as the September 7, 2024 Presidential Election looms near. A return to favorable views of protectionist trade policy, particularly in support of democracies abroad, may be returning to the mainstream Maximusian zeitgeist for the first time in over a decade. Recent polling suggest that between 56% and 63% of Maximusians support increased tariffs on “nations which pose a perceived threat to democracy globally,” a massive increase from 2019 polls conducted in the wake of the Lauchenoirian Civil War, which found that only around 39% of Maximusian citizens supported similar measures at the time.
Opponents of the bill, including Brown, have expressed their concern that the nation will be unable to weather the economic storm created by inciting a trade war with Xiomera, a major world exporter of industrial goods. During a Litudinem Herald interview with Brown on Saturday, October 14, the President was quoted saying, “[E]conomic warfare, such as the tariffs proposed by Clark, leave few winners and produce many casualties, including the hardworking men and women of our beautiful country, who will be able to feel in real time as their wallets get lighter and lighter. The situation in Huenya is a bleak one, but signing a bill that puts Maximusian consumers on the frontline of a conflict they have no stake in would represent a failure on my part to protect the interests of this nation and its people.” Other opponents of the bill have voiced similar criticism, noting increased instability within the Haesan economy following their decision to provide military aid to Xiomera earlier this month.