President Trump Channels His Inner Ernie

There is a classic Sesame Street story featuring Bert & Ernie (also explored in the vaguely titled children’s book “The Ernie & Bert Book“), in which Ernie explains to Bert that he must wear a pot on his head because Bert’s cowboy hat is now home to Ernie’s pet fish. This problem began when Ernie accidentally broke a cookie jar; Ernie placed the now-homeless cookies in the sugar bowl, which meant that he had to move the sugar to a flowerpot, which forced him to put the flower in a milk bottle, and so on and so forth.

 

What does this have to do with politics, you might ask? This is basically what President Trump is doing as a result of his obsession with placing massive tariffs on Chinese exports. As the Washington Post reports, Trump is bending to pressure to create economic bailouts for farmers that are only necessary because of the very policies the White House enacted in the first place:

President Trump on Tuesday rushed to placate furious farmers and Senate Republicans about his escalating trade war with China, with lawmakers now considering a package of fresh bailout funds to quell a rebellion in agricultural states.

The fresh uproar came as farmers, lawmakers, business executives, and global investors are looking to Trump for clues on how far he intends to take the trade showdown with China. On Monday, Trump suggested the standoff could last years and lead to structural changes in the global economy…

China has responded in two ways, both by trying to negotiate with him to stop the tariffs and by imposing import penalties on U.S. exports like soybeans and other items. This has led U.S. farmers to complain they are being caught in the middle of the standoff, putting pressure on lawmakers to intervene.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday were frenetically trying to deal with complaints from powerful farm groups. [Pols emphasis]

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner

Farmers in Colorado and across the country have been struggling during the Trump administration. The big Trump tax cut of late 2017 actually raised taxes for many farm families, and small and midsize farms are having trouble gaining access to credit from banks. Thus far in 2019, the Trump administration response to these financial pressures has been to pressure economists at the Agricultural Department to stop producing data and reports showing that farmers are getting crushed.

Unsurprisingly, messing around with spreadsheets has not made farmers feel any better. As this story from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel explains, farmers are reporting a rise in suicides as a direct result of the economic harm being inflicted upon them by Trump’s tariffs.

Here in Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is talking more about mythical socialism threats than the very real harm being inflicted on farmers. Gardner has said publicly that he doesn’t support Trump’s tariffs, but he won’t do anything to challenge the President beyond issuing the occasional statement of disapproval (after all, Gardner was one of the first big Republican names to officially endorse Trump’s re-election campaign).

As Paul Krugman recently opined for the New York Times, “Trump’s biggest supporters are his biggest victims.” That sentence works just as well if you replace “Trump” with “Gardner.”

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  1. Politico also covered this: "Republicans surrender to Trump’s China tariffs"

    Sen. Gardner managed to avoid giving a quote, which is good for him, considering the ones other ag state Republicans made: 

    Farmers are “disappointed but, you know, recognizing that China is the one that is forcing this,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

    Asked who can determine when the economic pain from retaliatory tariffs is too much to stand, South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds said, “It’s up to the producers.”

     

  2. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    And it is government by tweet.  Why $15 billion? Apparently, it is a number Trump absorbed from somewhere, knowing it is more than the $12 billion of the last round.

    Apparently, those working for the Sad!-ministration are trying to determine if Congress will need to authorize some or all of the plan, develop mechanisms for distribution of funds, identify which farmers might qualify, determine how amounts of support should be calculated, and choose which agency would be tasked with carrying out the program. 

    We may know something “now” — but specifics of the program will take a few months.

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