Good News on Trade Buried in Trump’s Testy Week [OPINION]
President Donald Trump had quite a week.
From the FBI searching his personal lawyer's office, to pardoning Scooter Libby, to the first early details of the James Comey book, to finishing up the week with launching a round of missiles into Syria, it's fair to say that, even for Trump, it was eventful.
But the piece of news that got less attention in the big picture has a lot more interest for South Dakota. The president opened the door this week to getting back together with our friends in the Trans Pacific Partnership.
There's a few key paragraphs in the New York Times story about the meeting that led to the possible door opening.
This one, that gives some props to our senior senator for getting the ball rolling:
The discussion on the trade deal began at the White House meeting earlier on Thursday, when Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, questioned Mr. Trump about returning to the pact, arguing that the Trans-Pacific Partnership was the best way to put pressure on China.
This one, in which the president backtracks from the good news later in the day, when all those pesky farm state senators -- from non-swing states -- were gone:
Then late Thursday, Mr. Trump appeared to shift gears again, saying in a Twitter post at 11:15 p.m. that he would consider re-entering the agreement only if it were “substantially better” than the deal offered to President Barack Obama. “We already have BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations in TPP,” he wrote, “and are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!”
And this two-fer, offering farm homies straight up cash:
The Trump administration says it has ordered the Agriculture Department to create a program to help farmers should the two nations find themselves in a trade war. Trade advisers say the department could draw on the financial resources of a program known as the Commodity Credit Corporation, which provides up to $30 billion to help shore up American farmers by buying their crops.
“Stay with us while we go through this difficult process,” Mr. Kudlow told farm-state representatives during the meeting, according to a White House transcript. He added, “And at the end, if the worst case has come out as the president said, you will be helped. That’s a promise.”
So it's good news but will it end up going back to the philosophy of free trade embedded in NAFTA and TPP that has served South Dakota so well?
Kudos to John Thune for raising this issue to the highest level. I have this feeling though that Trump told Thune and the other senators what they wanted to hear.
Farmers are not a priority for Trump. He’s already in a fight for his political life and I don’t get the sense that our economy is at the top of his list.
Has the man ever actually been to a farm? Has he ever talked to a farmer? I have no idea.
So we’re going to throw money at the farmers? That’s not going to solve the problem. It’s not what farmers want. It’s not what people of this state want. They want markets to sell their goods.
What happened to capitalism and free markets? This seems more like what we accuse France of doing, propping up the farm economy with subsidies. And don't kid yourself, this is a subsidy -- like unemployment or food stamps for workers in steel towns.
It’s all just sound and fury to deflect from Trump’s skewed view of economics and politics and it’s just wrong.
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