“This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”
Developments on Day 551 of the Trump Administration:
The Trump Administration allocates $12 billion in emergency relief for farmers hurt by its tariffs.
In a move starkly contradicting Donald Trump’s assurances of economic gains from trade conflicts with China, Canada, the European Union, and other countries, the Agriculture Department announced the measures two days before Trump visits Iowa.
Farmers raising crops such as soybeans have been hit by China’s retaliatory tariffs, with profit margins wiped out. One farm-group study estimates that corn, wheat, and soybean farmers in the US have already lost $13 billion.
Agriculture Department officials said farmers could begin signing up to receive the federal money in September, weeks before Congessional mid-term elections.
The package includes direct payments to the producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs. It also includes government purchases of surplus products — including fruit, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork, and dairy — that would be sent to food banks or other nutrition programs. Some of the funding will go to a program in which the Agriculture Department works with private companies to develop new export markets.
The program is funded by the Commodity Credit Corporation. It isthe the first time that the funding, established after the Great Depression, has been used to compensate farmers for losses sustained because of trade effects.
Farm groups and legislators, including some Republicans, chided the Administration for a step which revealed the damage of the tariffs.
“You have a terrible policy that sends farmers to the poorhouse, and then you put them on welfare, and we borrow the money from other countries,” Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, said. “It’s hard to believe there isn’t an outright revolt right now in Congress.”
Senator Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania argued:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to put a band-aid on a self-inflicted wound. The administration clobbers farmers with an unnecessary trade war then attempts to assuage them with taxpayer handouts. This bailout compounds bad policy with more bad policy.
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) July 24, 2018
GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska Republican of Alaska, asked about assistance for those affected in manufacturing and energy industries: “Where do you draw the line?”
Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said, “We are grateful for the administration’s recognition that farmers and ranchers needed positive news now, and this will buy us some time.” But he cautioned, “This announcement is substantial, but we cannot overstate the dire consequences that farmers and ranchers are facing.”
“Tariffs Are the Greatest!”
Trump spent the day in contradiction on Twitter and at an appearance in Missouri. He started with self-congratulation:
Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed. All will be Great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
He was a bit more hesitant in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, saying Americans should “just be a little patient” and insisting that other countries “don’t want to have those tariffs put on them — they’re all coming to see us — and the farmers will be the biggest beneficiary”.
By the end of the day, he was contradicting his line from the morning, saying all tariffs should be removed.
The European Union is coming to Washington tomorrow to negotiate a deal on Trade. I have an idea for them. Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready – but they won’t!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018
In a telling response, GOP Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, a key political battleground as well as an agricultural state, said, “The president’s announcement of billions of dollars in aid that will be made available to struggling farmers later this year is encouraging for the short term. [But] what farmers in Iowa and throughout rural America need in the long term are markets and opportunity, not government handouts.”
Casey Guernsey, a Missouri farmer and spokesman for Americans for Farmers & Families, explained, “We don’t want to be dependent on another government program. We already are very much in a situation in farming, in agriculture across the board, where we are held hostage to decisions made in Washington.”
And GOP Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska was blunt:
This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers, and the White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches. This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.