By Tyler Bauer
I’ve said before that tariffs have terrible consequences, and under President Trump, these consequences have come in many forms. For example, President Trump’s tariffs have negatively affected stock markets around the world, including our own. They have also weakened our relationships with some of our closest allies, such as Germany. While stock markets and allies are important, there is an arguably worse consequence that will have a greater effect on Trump’s presidency. As I’ve said before, these tariffs are bad for farmers, and farmers – as well as non-farmers living in farm country – made up a large portion of President Trump’s supporters in the 2016 election.
President Trump is officially fighting his own policies and trying to put out fires he started. Yesterday, it was announced that the Trump administration planned to give $12 billion in emergency aid to American farmers who have been harmed by tariffs. Ironically, President Trump tweeted “Tariffs are the greatest!” a few hours before this was announced. President Trump’s emergency aid (which is really just a subsidy) is intended to “ease the pain” caused by President Trump’s use of tariffs and the predictable use of retaliatory tariffs by our trade partners.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “President Trump has promised since day one that he had the back of every farmer and rancher” and promised that the emergency aid would only be a temporary solution. There are a couple things wrong with what Perdue said. First, President Trump has never had the back of farmers and ranchers. If he did, he wouldn’t have put them in the positions they’re currently in. Second, there is no such thing as a “temporary solution” with the government. To quote Milton Friedman, “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” As long as President Trump keeps trying to use tariffs and start trade wars, emergency aid will not be temporary – farmers will have trouble staying in business without subsidies.
Although you’ll probably be told by every major news network that this emergency aid is intended to help farmers, it really isn’t. As I said earlier, if President Trump wanted to help farmers, he wouldn’t have started trade wars to begin with. I think the use of emergency aid is actually just an attempt to help Republicans win elections come November. Look at the states where the emergency aid will be especially helpful – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio, and Iowa, to name a handful. Each of these states played a key role in getting President Trump elected in 2016 (these states will be just as important for President Trump’s reelection bid in 2020, too). Announcing the use of emergency aid to farmers in July gives plenty of time for Republican politicians to praise their party’s support for farmers in the run up to this year’s midterm elections. President Trump and his party are trying to make sure they remain in power, and that is why they are using emergency aid to farmers. After all, if they actually wanted to help farmers, they wouldn’t have supported tariffs in the first place.