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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Trade War and GOP Farm Seats

In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. Under Reagan and the Bushes, the GOP was the party of free trade. Now, Much of the Trump base believes in trade protectionism.Trump has threatened a trade war with China, whose casualties could be Trump voters. Lloyd Green writes at The Hill:
Not surprisingly, the American Farm Bureau Federation proclaimed that the trade spat between the United States and China “has to stop.” According to Zippy Duvall, who leads the organization, “We have bills to pay and debts we must settle, and cannot afford to lose any market, much less one as important as China’s.” For the record, that’s the heartland talking, not Wall Street.

In a similar statement on the impact of tariffs on farmers, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said, “There is a real danger that increased tariffs on U.S. exports will harm Iowa producers and undermine the rural economy. The administration’s action could hurt global supply chains and may lead to higher consumer prices.” To be clear, Ernst is a Republican and a veteran.

While it is doubtful that rural Republicans will be voting for Democrats in November, it is more likely that their enthusiasm will be dulled. With Democrats already fired up, Republicans can ill afford to debate the exact type of storm it will be facing in seven months. What does it matter if it’s a Category 3, 4 or 5?

For the moment, call it a freight train barreling down the tracks, with Republican control of Congress the potential casualty. Yes, we have seen this movie before. The question is whether anyone remembers.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Ana Swanson at NYT:
The trade spat with China also comes on the heels of Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade accord that was to rope in countries on both sides of the Pacific in an alliance against a rising Beijing. The administration is also renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Both were valuable deals for American farmers, and Mr. Trump’s move to upend them had already set agricultural producers on edge.

Suffering has come quickly for the sector on the stock market. Investors dumped stocks linked to agriculture on Friday. Deere & Company and the fertilizer giant Mosaic dropped nearly 4 percent, while the fertilizer maker CF Industries fell by 4.5 percent.

While some farmers and lawmakers have expressed hope that Mr. Trump’s threats are merely a negotiating tactic, administration officials insisted this past week that was not the case.