Editorial: Stop the bailouts aimed at covering up tariff harms

Orange County Register
Guest Editorial

On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced it would provide American farmers up to $12 billion in emergency aid to alleviate the detrimental impacts of the global trade war the president has gotten the country into.

Ironically, the announcement came just hours after President Trump declared on Twitter that “Tariffs are the greatest!”

Fortunately, many Republicans were principled enough to speak out against the White House’s absurd plan to use bailouts to paper over the harm of the president’s tariffs.

“This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and the White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska. “This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”

Indeed, at least some of the aid proposed by the administration will come by way of the Commodity Credit Corp., which was established during the Great Depression.

That President Trump would need to rely on a big government bailout to help farmers ride out some of the harms of his approach to trade should says all you need to know about tariffs. As Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, wrote on Twitter, “If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers — the answer is remove the tariffs.”

Remarkably, one proponent of removing not just recent tariffs, but all tariffs, is President Trump. Or so he says.

He took to Twitter Tuesday night to note that representatives of the European Union would be coming to Washington, D.C. to talk trade. “I have an idea for them,” he wrote. “Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready — but they won’t!”

It’s not the first time Trump, in practice an ardent protectionist, has proclaimed support for free trade. Last month, at the G7 meeting, he suggested “you go tariff-free, you go barrier-free, you go subsidy-free … That’s the way you learned at the Wharton School of Finance.”

Whether Trump is a secret free trader or is just leveraging free trade talk for something else remains to be seen. What is clear: Congress needs to stop this trade war madness.

— The Orange County Register, July 25