“[T]rade wars are good, and easy to win,” Donald Trump tweeted in 2018 as he launched a series of trade wars. He kept up the bombast later the same year, tweeting “I am a Tariff Man.” Things aren’t going so well with that.
The Trump administration is backing down a little, delaying the implementation of several of the tariffs it had planned to impose on Chinese products starting September 1. While many Chinese imports will be hit with the September 1 tariffs, The New York Times reports that “tariffs on consumer electronics, video game consoles, certain toys, computer monitors and some footwear and clothing items are being delayed until Dec. 15, giving retailers time to stockpile the products they need for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.” Some other products will be taken off the tariff list altogether, “based on health, safety, national security and other factors,” the administration said.
Talking to reporters Tuesday, Trump claimed that the delay was because of a “very good call with China.” But how many times have we heard that basic story before?
These delays are happening as tariffs already in place are damaging U.S. farmers. Trump tried to get farmers to clap harder in a pair of tweets insisting both that “Through massive devaluation of their currency and pumping vast sums of money into their system, the tens of billions of dollars that the U.S. is receiving is a gift from China. Prices not up, no inflation. Farmers getting more than China would be spending” and “As usual, China said they were going to be buying “big” from our great American Farmers. So far they have not done what they said. Maybe this will be different!”
But farmers know better. Family farm bankruptcies are up 45% in the Midwest, and farmers in Minnesota are angry after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made a joke suggesting they’re whiners during a listening session at which some had expressed their concerns about trade. “It was very insensitive. It took everyone by surprise. He doesn’t understand what farmers are dealing with, and he’s the head of the Department of Agriculture. He’s supposed to be working for farmers,” Minnesota Farmers Union president Gary Wertish told HuffPost. Even the $28 billion bailout Trump has given farmers isn’t enough, especially as farmers watch the Chinese contracts they had relied on go to farmers in other countries, meaning that even if Trump ends his trade war, the business may be gone.