In the face of mounting complaints about his trade strategy, President Donald Trump on Tuesday gave no signs of backing down on his move to levy tariffs on imports into the United States, as the Trump Administration announced a $12 billion bailout plan to help farmers who have been hit by retaliatory tariffs from other nations.
“Our workers have been cheated, our companies have been cheated,” the President said in a speech to a VFW convention in Kansas City, Missouri, as he demanded ‘reasonable’ and ‘fair’ trade deals with other nations.
“We have to do it – other countries have tariffs on us,” Mr. Trump said, as he staunchly defended his effort to force other nations to lower their trade barriers, by slapping U.S. import duties on foreign products.
“These countries have been ripping us off for decades,” the President added, acknowledging that it may take time to force trade changes.
“It doesn’t take a week – it takes a little longer. But we’re going to get it done,” Mr. Trump said.
But while the President proclaimed on Twitter Tuesday that, “Tariffs are the greatest!” – many in his own party strongly disagree, as they hear more and more complaints from back – especially from farmers – about how the President’s tariffs have triggered retaliation, which have cost farmers markets, and money.
“I just don’t think tariffs are the way to go, and our members are making that clear,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, referring to growing complaints from GOP lawmakers.
“I don’t think the tariff route is the smart way to go,” the Speaker added at a news conference, though he again gave no hint that the Congress would take any kind of actual vote to rein in the President’s trade actions.
As for the $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers, to offset losses because of the growing trade war between the U.S. and other nations, that idea landed with a thud on Capitol Hill.
“America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). “This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”
“Tariffs are not “the greatest,” Mr. President,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). “American farmers want access to markets, not taxpayer funded bailouts.”
But in his speech, Mr. Trump brushed aside complaints about his effort to force other countries to lower their own tariffs and trade barriers.
“The farmers will be the biggest beneficiary,” the President said confidently. “Watch.”
But positive comments about the $12 billion trade bailout were hard to find in the hallways of the Capitol.
“Most of the people in the ag community that I talk to don’t want a bailout, they just want their markets,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who was waiting to see details of the $12 billion farm bailout plan on Tuesday afternoon.
“What happens next year and the year after, every time you do tariffs and some sector is hurt?” asked Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who said the Trump Administration decision seemingly opens the White House up to billions in aid to all sorts of different industries that have not been helped by the President’s tariffs.
“It’s clear that they haven’t thought through this,” Brown told reporters.