The man who loves trade wars because they’re so easy to win is finding that the collateral damage inflicted is not so easy to deal with. The disaster Donald Trump’s tariffs have brought to “Our great Patriot Farmers,” who he still insists “will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of what is happening now” has proven problematic. So the administration is trying to figure out how to do yet another bailout.
The first idea—donating surplus crops not being bought by China to poor countries—flopped, so the administration is trying to figure out some other way to save agricultural companies. He’s getting pressure from fellow Republicans, too, including farm-state Sen. Chuck Grassley who suggests that perhaps Trump just doesn’t get it. He is writing a letter to Trump to explain the problem because he has the sense that all his efforts to talk to the man just haven’t sunk in. “I’m not sure if you talk to him face to face he hears everything you say.” He’ll need to include lots of pictures in that letter, because reading comprehension isn’t high on Trump’s skill list, either.
One option is to expand the bailout they already did last year from the Agriculture Department’s Community Credit Corporation. That’s $12 billion (some of which ended up going to Chinese and Brazilian companies). It’s going to take more than $12 billion because China insists that it will increase its restrictions as Trump ups the tariffs.
Trump, and North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven, say the money can come from the tariffs on Chinese imports. “This money will come from the massive Tariffs being paid to the United States for allowing China, and others, to do business with us,” Trump tweets, suggesting that he still doesn’t understand who is actually paying for the 25 percent charge he’s added to the importation of Chinese goods. Hint: it’s not China, it’s the companies importing the goods passed on down to the consumers buying those goods, including farmers needing to buy equipment. But details have never been Trump’s strong suit.
To wit, his remarks in the White House Monday: The farmer will “be planting,” he said. “They’ll be able to sell for less, and they’ll make the same kind of money until such time as it’s all straightened out. So our farmers will be very happy.” How? Another tax-payer funded bailout. Or maybe he’ll tweet it into happening?