The Trump administration’s $12 billion “short-term” plan is drawing strong criticism from Republican senators, calling the action everything from a Band-Aid to a bailout.
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), an outspoken advocate for trade and American agriculture, went so far as to say the $12 billion program is nothing but “gold crutches.”
“This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and 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 bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again,” Sasse said.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said while he appreciates the President recognizing the plight of American farmers and ranchers at this time, the short-term plan is providing a false sense of security.
“I appreciate the intent of the president’s effort to ensure producers receive as much assistance as possible during these uncertain times. Ultimately, though, I believe this is merely a Band-Aid when it comes to the damage that’s being done in today’s agriculture economy, and it provides a false and short-term sense of security,” Thune said. “Under the administration’s current approach, producers are losing global market share, and they’re watching commodity prices rapidly decline. The best way to help farmers and ranchers is to strengthen existing trade agreements as quickly as possible and seek new opportunities that could open markets around the world for U.S. agriculture producers. Free and fair trade is critical for South Dakota’s producers, and I will continue to encourage and pressure the administration to make agriculture a top priority as they negotiate trade deals.”
U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who was pushing for a binding vote on legislation to require congressional approval of national security-designated tariffs, said offering welfare to farmers is not the answer.
“I am glad that the administration finally seems to understand that the Trump-Pence tariffs are hurting the American people,” said Corker. “These tariffs are a massive tax increase on American consumers and businesses, and instead of offering welfare to farmers to solve a problem they themselves created, the administration should reverse course and end this incoherent policy. We will continue to push for a binding vote here in Congress to reassert our constitutional role on national security-designated tariffs.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said in the long-term farmers and ranchers need markets and opportunity, not handouts.
“Many U.S. products face market barriers abroad. I don’t fault the President for trying to get a better deal for Americans, but it’s not fair to expect farmers to bear the brunt of retaliation for the entire country in the meantime. I’ve had several White House meetings with President Trump to express my concerns in strong terms. Every third row of soybeans in Iowa is exported. We also export large amounts of pork and beef. That means farmers depend on access to foreign markets to make ends meet and provide for their families,” Grassley said. “The President’s announcement of billions of dollars in aid that will be made available to struggling farmers later this year is encouraging for the short term. What farmers in Iowa and throughout rural America need in the long term are markets and opportunity, not government handouts. I look forward to reviewing the details of the President’s proposal and continuing to work with the Administration to find permanent solutions that will give confidence and certainty to our farmers as soon as possible.”
In April, Grassley said, “If the federal government takes action on trade that directly results in economic hardship for certain Americans, it has a responsibility to help those Americans and mitigate the damage it caused.”