Donald Trump is rebuffing calls from red state, rural-representing Republicans to back off his trade war with China and they aren’t happy. After Trump announced steel tariffs, China struck back by loading tariffs on an agriculture-heavy list of soybeans, tobacco, fruits, nuts and more. All would cause huge losses in solid red “Trump country.” Trump is again digging even deeper, threatening to ratchet up the trade war with even more tariffs. From Politico:
President Donald Trump once again ratcheted up the tension in his ongoing trade dispute with China on Thursday, threatening to slap tariffs on an additional $100 billion in imports from one of the United States’ largest trading partners.
So, how are the agriculture-heavy states reacting? They are downright angry. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska didn’t hold back in his comments.
Congressional leaders representing farm states have also been worried about the tit-for-tat promises of retaliation. On Thursday, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska accused Trump of not have a realistic plan for reining in China’s trade problems.
Trump is “threatening to light American agriculture on fire. Let’s absolutely take on Chinese bad behavior, but with a plan that punishes them instead of us,” Sasse said. “This is the dumbest possible way to do this.”
Trump’s trade war may spur mega job losses nationwide, including in the United States Congress. From the Washington Post:
Michael Eggman, a Democratic bee farmer running against Rep. Jeff Denham (R), says he has been hearing concerns this week from almond growers, even among people who supported Trump’s campaign to disrupt politics. “Now they are starting to see how reckless this is,” he said. “It’s not shaking up Washington now. Now you are shaking up the valley,” Eggman said, referring to California’s Central Valley.
The issue also has been raised in the district held by Rep. David Valadao (R), just to the south of Denham’s district. One of the Democratic candidates, T.J. Cox, who owns a nut-processing business, said in statement Monday that the new tariffs are “devastating to Central Valley small businesses.”
Even Mitch McConnell, whose home state of Kentucky will take huge hits, is asking Trump to back off.
“I’m not a fan of tariffs, and I am nervous about what appears to be a growing trend in the Administration to levy tariffs,” McConnell said. “This is a slippery slope, so my hope is that this will stop before it gets into a broader tit for tat that can’t be good for our country.”
In Iowa, the entire GOP congressional delegation, including two vulnerable Republican incumbents, Reps. Rod Blum and David Young, wrote a similar letter to Trump in early March asking him to not tax steel and aluminum imports. “Tariffs are a tax on families, and hard-working Iowans cannot afford a trade war,” the letter read.
They have reason to be freaking out in Iowa.
“It makes perfect sense that they would do this,” said Dermot J. Hayes, a professor of agriculture at Iowa State University who studies the pork market. “Iowa is normally a swing state that went strongly for Trump. I would guess that somebody looked at a map and overlaid the areas where Trump won with areas where pork is important.”
The 25 percent tax on pork imports to China has coincided with a reduction in pork prices of about $10 per animal in recent months, or more than 12 percent, a shift that could add up to a $400 million loss in annual revenue for Iowa pork farmers, said Hayes.
Heading into the midterm elections with the wind at the back of Democrats nationwide and a needless, ill-advised trade wreaking havoc rural voters, this could be a tsunami of epic proportions.