A Republican Senator is taking a stand against President Donald Trump's plan to bail out farmers who have been adversely affected by retaliatory tariffs placed on American exports, which were imposed on the United States in response to Trump's tariffs on foreign-made goods.
Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) issued a statement on Tuesday panning Trump's proposal to use taxpayer dollars to rescue the agriculture industry, which has been suffering losses thanks to Trump's reckless trade policies.
Ben Sasse responds to White House plan to bail out agriculture industry amid Trump’s various trade wars https://t.co/B59olVXFOB— Haley Byrd (@Haley Byrd) 1532450507.0
Sasse said Trump's "trade war" is "cutting the legs out from under farmers," and that Trump's desire to "spend $12 billion on gold crutches" is an affront to farmers who "don't want to be paid to lose."
Sasse, a longtime proponent of free trade and whose home state of Nebraska supplies much of the world's corn, soybeans, and wheat, added:
"This administration's tariffs and bailouts aren't going to make America great again, they're just going to make it 1929 again."
Two other Republican Senators - Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin - joined Sasse in his opposition to what they see as unnecessary government intervention in a deliberately manufactured economic crisis.
Paul called the administration's move "welfare for farmers" and Johnson said Trump's policies are creating a "Soviet-style economy."
At least 3 Repubs are against $12B farming aid. Rand Paul: It's "welfare for farmers." Ben Sasse: "Bailouts aren… https://t.co/4DJG3OiFoT— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche Alcindor) 1532455516.0
Twitter shared its thoughts as well. Some praised Sasse for standing up to Trump on what is widely viewed as economically risky approaches to global trade.
@byrdinator @ReaganBattalion Any economist would tell you he is accurate. It’s not rocket science a trade war hurt… https://t.co/LVmhnvq190— nolepride (@nolepride) 1532456811.0
@byrdinator A good response— Chris Nagel (@Chris Nagel) 1532450820.0
@stetayen @byrdinator That’s fair, but I give @BenSasse a lot of credit. He gets hit hard from the Trumpkins.— Chris Nagel (@Chris Nagel) 1532456592.0
But not everyone agreed. Some see Sasse's comments as nothing more than posturing, and they fear he will continue to vote for Trump's policies despite publicly opposing them.
@byrdinator I PROMISE YOU he'll vote in favor of it.— Bob Loblaw (@Bob Loblaw) 1532451196.0
@byrdinator Sasse is all hat and no cattle...— Tom V (@Tom V) 1532450640.0
@byrdinator If only @BenSasse @JeffFlake and @SenBobCorker could team up with like-minded Dems to do something.… https://t.co/ETaWH4hD2R— Jeffrey Carlson (@Jeffrey Carlson) 1532450821.0
@ChrisNagel_SP @byrdinator But what actions? The legislators actually have power to stop this nonsense— 🤷🏾♀️ (@🤷🏾♀️) 1532451222.0
The bailout was announced Tuesday afternoon by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
"President Trump has promised since day one that he had the back of every farmer and rancher," Perdue told reporters. The secretary admitted the bailout was a short-term solution, but that it should give "Trump and his administration time to work on long-term trade deals."
Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that "tariffs are the greatest," signaling he has no intention of backing down from the trade war he started in the spring.
Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair… https://t.co/iYLwdq5W9g— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1532431790.0
The president has also threatened to impose tariffs on all $500 billion worth of Chinese imports in addition to the 10 percent tariffs he has already enacted on $200 billion worth of Chinese-made products.
In June, Nebraska farmers voiced their opposition to Trump's trade policies.
The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association said last month: "a trade war with China will deeply impact U.S. farmers, U.S. workers, and U.S. consumers."
"Nebraska corn farmers are already struggling to break even due to low corn prices, but these tariffs aren't hurting just farmers," said David Merrell of St. Edward, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. "More than one million American jobs are supported by U.S. ag exports alone."
"The president's tariffs have the potential to hurt our country's farmers," Dan Wesley of Morse Bluff, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, said. "The president's tariffs have the potential to hurt our country's farmers."
Wesley added that Nebraska farmers put their faith in Trump in 2016 by supporting his campaign after Trump made a "commitment to farmers."
"We want to work with President Trump to help him understand the damage the tariffs are causing to rural America and hopefully he will reconsider," Wesley added.