During a visit to Iowa in June, President Trump said, “The best thing that ever happened to the farmers is me.”
As his trade war with China continues to escalate, the folly of that statement grows.
The latest signs the trade dispute is far from its end came late last week and earlier this week.
Last week, President Trump announced he plans to impose a 10 percent tariff on another $300 billion of Chinese imports to the United States beginning Sept. 1. That followed his imposition of 25 percent tariffs on some $250 billion of Chinese imports. This week, the Trump administration charged China with manipulation of its currency for unfair trade advantage (no U.S. administration has made this charge about any country since the same charge was made about China in 1994).
The fallout from these U.S.-China trade developments included the worst day of the year for U.S. stocks on Monday and, according to MarketWatch, the chief economist for Moody's Analytics raising the probability of a recession in the next 12 months from 35 to 50 percent.
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Storm clouds are the darkest in farm states like Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota, though. Already bearing a heavy burden for the U.S.-China trade dispute, agriculture likely will be in the crosshairs for retaliation by the Chinese again. Even before these new developments, the U.S. Agriculture Department had forecast American farm exports to China at $6.5 billion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, down from $16.3 billion last year and from more than $20 billion per year during the administration of Barack Obama.
How and when does this trade war end? Or, when does it at least begin to turn in a direction of optimism for an end? Your guess is as good as ours.
In the meantime, we ask: What exactly are state and federal leaders from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota - in particular, leaders in those states who belong to the same political party as President Trump - doing in response to all of this?
As we have said before, they should be using whatever clout they possess in keeping up pressure on the Trump administration to end America's trade fight with China. They should be in the ear of President Trump and members of his team every day.
Unfortunately, deafening silence is largely what we hear from them.