Donald Trump’s “greatest tariffs” have produced all manner of absurd outcomes in 2018, not the least of which is a $12 billion bailout for farmers hurt by the trade war.
Back in July, the government announced the multi-billion dollar rescue package for American agriculture and the circularity inherent in that effort was readily apparent both to lawmakers and to farmers themselves: Trump instituted trade policies that posed an existential threat to America’s farmers and then, facing a severe backlash, decided to bail them out with their own taxpayer dollars.
In the final insult, Trump peddled $45 “Make Farmers Great Again” hats on his website. In a testament to the sad gullibility of the farm belt, those hats sold out within hours.
Being the benevolent dictator that he is, Trump didn’t make all farmers pay for those hats. He gave some of them away for free, as captured and set to music in the following clip from August:
Well, just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any more ridiculous, they did, because on Wednesday, The Agriculture Department announced that the U.S. government is all set to buy nearly a quarter of a million dollars worth of “ham products” from U.S. pork producer Smithfield as part of the farmer bailouts.
Why is that ridiculous (well, I mean besides the fact that we’re now bailing out farmers who Trump insisted would be among the main beneficiaries of his trade policies)? It’s ridiculous because Smithfield is owned by a Chinese conglomerate. The Virginia-based pork producer was acquired by WH Group five years ago.
So, in essence, China just sold 144,000 pounds of ham to the U.S. government as part of a bailout program put in place after Trump slapped tariffs on China in an effort to reduce the trade balance between the U.S. and China. Just try to wrap your head around that.
Call it “green hats and ham”.
If you’re wondering whether it’s a coincidence that the Agriculture Department waited until the day after the midterms to announce that American taxpayers are effectively buying $240,000 worth of ham from China via Virginia hog farms, the answer is: “Of course it’s not a coincidence.” Here’s what Tony Corbo, senior lobbyist at Food and Water Watch, told the Washington Post:
It is highly suspicious that this announcement came a day after the midterm elections. Congress needs to exercise oversight of this program. This is an example of corporate welfare at its worst.
As far as whether the USDA can guarantee that the $240,000 you (the taxpayer) just spent on “ham products” isn’t going to be funneled straight back to China (via WH Group), the answer is: “No.”
“We do not have the ability to police whether money will eventually ‘filter to the Chinese,’ ” a USDA spokesman told WaPo in an emailed response to questions.
This is just more stone, cold proof that this administration’s trade policies are the very definition of “ham-handed.”
Pun fully intended.