It’s on and how it will end is anyone’s guess. Amid trade negotiations with China, Donald Trump chose to up the ante by imposing tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of imports to the United States. Trump ratcheted up the pressure just as China and the U.S. appeared to be nearing a potential trade agreement that could have eased tension between the world’s two biggest economies.
“Tariffs will make our Country MUCH STRONGER, not weaker. Just sit back and watch!” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind.”
Not so much. That “wealth” has clearly come at the expense of American taxpayers who offset the increased cost of doing business by paying higher prices for goods and services. Multiple studies have demonstrated that Trump’s tariffs and Chinese retaliation has driven up costs for American consumers and decreased the availability of products.
The tariffs have also hit American farmers particularly hard. For instance, a new study showed Trump’s tariff threats in 2017 resulted in a nearly $200 million dip in the agricultural exports from Nebraska’s farmers that year. And that was before Trump actually imposed new tariffs prompting China to respond in kind.
Trump seemed well aware of the hit U.S. farmers have taken even as he peddled the fantasy “Farmers will do better, faster, and starving nations can now be helped.” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue also tweeted Friday that Trump is “steadfast” in his support for farmers and said he had been directed by Trump to work up “a plan quickly.”
Asked about the tweet, a USDA spokeswoman said the department had nothing further.
In other words, there’s no plan. And the last time the Trump administration tried to ease the burden farmers were bearing with $12 billion in aide was a total debacle. Part of the bail-out funds appears to have flowed to a Chinese-owned pork producer. Another portion went to a Brazilian company. Meanwhile, dozens of Iowa farmers ended up with less than $25. Yes, you read that right.
“Some checks will barely cover the cost of a Starbucks coffee for a few growers,” wrote the Des Moines Register.
In addition, Trump’s extended government shutdown slowed the pace at which farmers received bail-out funds, leaving many of them scrambling to make up for shortfalls. Trump’s new round of tariffs will once again make an already weakened farm industry dependent on assistance from a federal government that has consistently failed them since Trump took office.
The good news is, Trump, along with other billionaires and multi-millionaires, got a giant tax break this year.