Early Tuesday, Politico reported that the Trump administration, stinging from criticism that tariffs are hurting U.S. farmers, is all set to bail out U.S. agriculture.
As noted, that is absurd, because it amounts to Donald Trump spending billions of dollars to provide relief to farmers who are suffering from a misguided trade policy of his own making.
Let that sink in: the President imperiled the agricultural community by adopting a trade policy that everyone told him would have negative repercussions and instead of reconsidering the policy, he’s going to spend money on subsidies.
Here’s how AQR’s Cliff Asness described the move:
Do dumb stuff then subsidize the people you most directly hurt. Shrewd. Good plan.
Indeed. Well fast forward a couple of hours from the initial reporting and the official figure is out. The U.S. government will spend $12 billion on what amounts to an effort to rescue farmers from Donald Trump.
The rule is expected to come within weeks.
For his part, Trump advised farmers to “just be a little patient” while speaking at an event for veterans on Tuesday.
This is patently absurd for all of the reasons outlined in the linked post above and as summarized there by Asness, but in case you need to hear it from someone else, Senator Ben Sasse is out with the following statement:
This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and the White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches. America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose – they want to win by feeding the world. This administration’s tariffs and bailout aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.
Brian Kuehl, executive director of the advocacy group Farmers for Free Trade, said this:
The best relief for the president’s trade war would be ending the trade war. This proposed action would only be a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage caused by tariffs.
Any questions? If so, let’s ask a soybean farmer, shall we?
Just got off the phone with a soybean farmer and asked for reaction to reported details of USDA relief package.
His initial take on a $12 billion disbursement program: "It would be a band-aid â€“ how do you decide who gets what?"
— Kayla Tausche (@kaylatausche) July 24, 2018