Well, look, if I wasn’t doing everything in my power to help farmers, then why would I be posing in front of a bunch of tractors?
American farmers are mad.
“I couldn’t vote for him. I have to protect my business,” Ohio soybean farmer Christopher Gribbs told CNBC earlier this month. Gribbs voted for Trump in 2016 and was once part of the President’s midwestern base, but no longer. “The geopolitical problems that we have with the Trump tariffs have weighed on market confidence and the market just can’t move.”
Trump’s trade war is costing American farmers BIGLY — and they’re going to be returning the favor in 2020; a survey from Farm Journal found that Trump’s support from farmers has dropped to 71 percent. As the New York Times explains:
More than a year into the trade dispute, sales of American soybeans, pork, wheat and other agricultural products to China have dried up as Beijing retaliates against Mr. Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. Lucrative contracts that farmers long relied on for a significant source of income have evaporated, with Chinese buyers looking to other nations like Brazil and Canada to get the commodities they need. Farm bankruptcy filings in the year through June were up 13 percent from 2018 and loan delinquency rates are on the rise, according to the American Farm Bureau.
The predicament of farmers is becoming a political problem for Mr. Trump as he heads into an election year. For months, farmers have remained resolute, continuing to pledge support to a president who says his trade policies will help the agricultural industry win in the end. While there are few signs of an imminent blue wave in farm country, a growing number of farmers say they are losing patience with the president’s approach and are suggesting it will not take much to lose their vote as well. [Pols emphasis]…
President Trump’s trade war with China has farmers speaking out with increasing levels of anger. You can tell that these concerns are getting through to Republican lawmakers, because Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is now pretending that he is riding to the rescue (spoiler alert: Nope). In a recent interview with Bente Birkeland of Colorado Public Radio (CPR), Gardner said some words:
“It is tough for businesses to plan and that’s why we need to have a resolution. And that’s why I have from day one even before, long before they went into effect said ‘Hey, you can’t do this. Don’t move forward on this,'” Gardner said. “And that’s why I support efforts to take that power back by Congress.”
Say what? If Gardner has said any of these things “from day one,” he has said them under his breath. The only thing Gardner has really said publicly is that tariffs are “a bad idea,” and he has repeatedly demurred when pressed for specifics.
As we all know, Gardner doesn’t push back against Trump on anything. There are a number of Republican Senators who have strongly opposed the Trump tariffs, but Gardner is most certainly not among them. Here’s what Gardner actually said about the tariffs earlier this summer, via Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette:
Gardner told Bloomberg News Monday that tariffs are “a bad idea, plain and simple.” His office declined to comment about whether his opposition would include any efforts to overturn the President’s authority under IEEPA. [Pols emphasis]
And this from Politico (June 7, 2019):
Several Republican senators are warning the president they would vote to overturn the new levies, though Gardner has not explicitly said he would go that far. [Pols emphasis]
You’re really giving him the business, Senator!
This has been the extent of Gardner’s “opposition.” He won’t even hint that he might support legislation to curb Trump’s tariff powers. But now that farmers are finally getting fed up, Gardner is putting inserts in his shoes to look taller.
Here’s more of Gardner’s pablum from Colorado Public Radio:
GARDNER: That’s why I oppose the tariffs, and that’s why I continued to try to find a solution that involves more trade opportunities, a more open trade without tariffs, to surround China and the bad actions that they have with a significant portion of the global economy so that they can’t pick our friends off and try to undermine us. And this isn’t just an interest of the United States to make sure that China behaves good. It’s an interest of the entire world to make China behave fairly when it comes to trade. I think the tariffs approach is the wrong way to do it, but we ought to continue our efforts to change their bad behavior while opening up Colorado opportunities.
“We ought to continue our efforts to change their bad behavior while opening up Colorado opportunities.” Shermanesque, he is not.
BIRKELAND: And so would you push President Trump to find a trade deal sooner rather than later?
GARDNER: I have already pushed President Trump to find a trade deal sooner rather than later. I’ve been meeting with the groups of senators over at the White House for well over a year and a half, bringing people like Sen. Ernst and Sen. Fisher to ag states, Sen. Graham and Sen. Alexander, more manufacturing based states, to the White House to talk about how we need a trade agreement. We need to enter into things like the Transpacific Partnership. We ought to have a European free trade agreement. I passed a bill called the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, and the president signed it into law on December 31 of this past year. And in that legislation, it directs the administration to pursue multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, hopefully the first of which we’re starting to see with Japan.
Trade agreements with Japan, eh? Trump recently dismissed sales of wheat in Japan, saying the country was only buying from American farmers as a favor to the United States.
Got anything else, Sen. Gardner?
Well, then, let’s give the last word to an actual farmer:
“If [President Trump] doesn’t lose 100 percent of [votes] from the farm belt then people are kind of crazy because this is not going well for farmers at all.”
— Bob Kuylen, North Dakota farmer (8/27/19)
Here’s the full interview with North Dakota farmer Bob Kuylen on CNN earlier this week: