In attempting to patch things up with farmers hurt by the trade war he initiated, President Trump managed to anger both farm-state Republicans who say their constituents would rather sell their crops than collect a government subsidy — and representatives of non-farm states saying, “How about us?”
Trump on Tuesday announced a $12 billion bailout for American farmers whose export markets have been hit by retaliatory tariffs from China.
“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,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters in Washington Tuesday. “It’s hard to believe there isn’t an outright revolt right now in Congress.”
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski also bristled about singling out farmers who are already feeling the negative effects of Trump’s escalating trade war with China and the European Union.
“What about the manufacturing sector? What about the energy sector? The oil and gas industries?” Murkowski said Tuesday. “Where do you draw the line? I’ve got some real concerns.”
Already miffed by the president’s actions on trade, adding subsidies for farmers is seen by many Republicans in Congress as making an unfortunate situation worse.
Tariffs are taxes that punish American consumers and producers. If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers — the answer is remove the tariffs.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 24, 2018
“This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., told the New York Times. “This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., also broke with the president over the targeted assistance to farmers.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) tells @burgessev and me outside GOP lunch that $12 billion in trade assistance to farmers from Trump administration “this is becoming more and more like a Soviet-type of economy here” with “commissars” sprinkling around benefits.
— Alex Bolton (@alexanderbolton) July 24, 2018
The president, meanwhile, pushed his $12 billion plan at a speech in Kansas City, Mo., before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, just hours after he assured Americans that his own Republican colleagues were mistaken about tariffs.
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
Trump warned his audience “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” and that “farmers will be the biggest beneficiary” of his implementation of tariffs.
“Watch,” Trump said. “We’re opening up markets. You watch what’s going to happen. Just be a little patient.”
So far, the Trump administration has imposed tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, inviting retaliatory tariffs from Beijing on imports, including U.S. soybeans and pork. Trump has also threatened to levy duties on another $500 billion on Chinese products, a move that would likely result in stronger actions by China.
To drive his point home that his critics were wrong and that “trade wars are good and easy to win,” Trump also pinned blame on a familiar target.
“Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” he said, spurring boos from the crowd aimed at reporters in attendance.
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