Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Sorry, Trumpies, If You Take Dotard's $12 b Farm Handout You're No Better Than Welfare Queens

"Trade wars are great! And I'm gonna take from the taxpayers to bail out the farmers who my tariffs hurt. 'Cause I'm a fucktard!"

"Farmers don't want welfare, they want trade." - Sen. Rand Paul

"America's farmers don't want  golden crutches,  they to want to be paid to feed the world."- Sen. Ben Sasse

It's an old cliche but  applicable once again, that "what's good for the goose is good for the gander".  That little meme rings true now as Trump promises to raid the Treasury-  to the tune of $12 billion - adding  even more  to the deficit,, to help farmers hurt by his own trade tariffs.  In the golden parachute,  greed -filled 1980s,  similar government welfare handouts, were viciously castigated.  Then,  harsh criticism was mainly directed at "welfare queens" - the term of Lee Atwater (Bush Sr's campaign hitman, the same guy that gave us "Willie Horton" in 1988). to describe those who exploited the system to avoid work.

The comments of some free trade Repubs - like Rand Paul and Ben Sasse-  indicate the same term is fair now, for any farmers who accept Trump's bailouts. (Interestingly, these will be mainly large corporate agri-businesses, not 'mom and pop' farmers, according to several commentators.) So what we really will have is more corporate welfare.

What's wrong with this picture? Everything!  Start with the fact it's a blatant government handout, indeed a bribe - to try to keep distressed farmers in the GOP voter column come November. They are being hit hard and heavy now - losing income on everything from crashing soybean prices (16 percent lower since May)  to collapsing hog prices (because of Chinese tariffs). Also suffering from Mexican, Chinese retaliation tariffs  imposed on other U.S. meat - including  beef, chicken, turkey - leading to over 2.5  billion pounds of meats now having to be put into cold storage. (WSJ,  July 23, p. A1) because of over supply.  Meanwhile, many farmers hit hard by the collapsing prices - and already living on narrow profit margins - face farm foreclosures if the situation doesn't improve - and it won't.

Enter now Donnie T. (for Traitor) Dotard, set to give out "free"  taxpayer money to the besieged farmers in Trumpland, collateral damage of their Fuhrer's own tariffs. . As per the WaPo account:

"The White House plans to announce on Tuesday a plan to extend $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers caught in the midst of President Trump’s escalating trade war, two people briefed on the plan said, the latest sign that growing tensions between the United States and other countries will not end soon.

Farm groups have complained that moves by China and other countries in response to Trump’s protectionist trade stance could cost them billions of dollars, spooking Republicans who fear a political and economic blowback to Trump’s approach.

The White House has searched for months for a way to provide emergency assistance to farmers without backing down on Trump’s trade agenda, The new program will rely in part on a Depression-era program called the Commodity Credit Corporation, a division of the Agriculture Department that was created in 1933 to offer a financial backstop for farmers. It will extend roughly $12 billion through three different mechanisms run by the Department of Agriculture.   

Because the program was created during the Depression, it does not rely on new congressional approval. It allows the CCC to borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department to “stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices.”"

To say this is transparently obscene is an understatement.  Start with the creation of severe moral hazard. According to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, "moral hazard" is defined as arising:

" because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions"

In this context the farmers in Trump's red states did not reckon the full consequences and responsibility for their actions on November 8, 2016, i.e.  by voting for a mutt they had to know (from his campaign blather) wanted to impose tariffs on China.  It doesn't matter if they didn't take his threats literally, or didn't really believe he'd carry them out.   By his very speeches and actions ("Throw that bum outta here! I’d like to punch him in the face!") they had to know or guess he was an unstable nitwit - but  still cast votes for him out of some deranged macho perception.

Now that "the chickens have come home to roost" they can't bellyache about being hit by the downsides of the mutt's tariffs and should not be taking his handouts....Unless, of course, they wish to be regarded as no different  than the "welfare queens" the Reeptards used to disparage in the Ray-gun era.

At the heart of the Wikipedia entry meaning is that by just giving the Trumpie farmers money, you are in effect engendering a moral hazard by creating an artificial condition within which they can in future elect to refuse the consequences for their actions, i.e  continuing voting Trump (as in 2020) , and expecting even more handouts to drive up deficits- if Trump's trade war continues. .   Obviously, this is a losing wicket and they need to wake up and grasp it is Trump's  tariffs that need to be halted, not handouts continued..

As I pointed out in my June 22 post, "tariffs don't solve any trade or economic imbalance problems - other than in the short term.    Trump and his lackeys may brag about the steel jobs being saved thanks to his 25 % tariffs on foreign steel imports, but left unsaid are the estimated 11,000- 15,000 job losses for the steel users. That is, those who USE steel to manufacture other goods.

So why are tariffs bad then? Because they are a tax on imports which ultimately turn out to be a tax on citizens, especially dinging those with low incomes

I also quoted  the WSJ editorial of June 13th (p. A20):

"Tariffs are inherently regressive because low income Americans spend more of their income on household goods.  Wilbur Ross argued that no one will notice price increases...But people in Mr. Ross  income class are not the Trump base."

The WSJ in a separate article also noted local papers across "flyover" land are replete with tales of woe regarding value destruction and lost income from Trump's trade wars.  We can debate from now until doomsday the technical definition of "trade war", i.e. the threshold where it actually starts, but the fact is that Trump's tariffs are already costing millions,  millions.

He knows that and he also knows he's toast in the midterm elections - since a Dem tsunami is building to flip the GOP House.  The outcome of that will likely be impeachment proceedings, and many farmers in hard hit tariff states (e.g. Wisconsin, Tennessee) are already vowing to vote Dem, in a demonstration or protest vote.  Hence, the effort now to shamelessly bribe them with taxpayer - subsidized bailouts.

If they have any pride they will refuse this grotesque effort which is simply undeserved welfare.  They need to demand Dotard halt his insane tariffs - even on friendly neighbor nations and allies (like the EU, Canada, Mexico). As opposed to being reduced to "beggar thy government" groveling. 

Sadly, most defenders - members of the Trump Cult will miss the irony of using a depression era tactic at a time when Dotard believes the economy is "the greatest ever".   Besides, what will be the response when the fisheries industry insists it's also being clobbered by losses in the trade conflict?  What if they also demand a bailout? What about the manufacturers  (e.g. of automobiles) being slaughtered by the steel tariffs?  Are they also to receive depression-era bailouts, compliments of taxpayers? 

 But when the Trumpite vermin now even seek to alter reality '1984' - Newspeak style, by manipulating a source tape of the Helsinki press conference, e.g.

Maddow: White House removed Putin support for Trump from official 

- nothing surprises the resolute  rationalist any more.  We have long since passed through the 'Looking Glass', kiddies!

See also:


Editorial: So Now Trump Wants to Protect Farmers From Trump’s Trade War?

Update:  7/ 25 - From Today's WSJ Editorial- 'A $12 Billion Rounding Error?'

"American farmers won't prosper on welfare. They need access to customers abroad. Mr. Trump may think that his farm tariff bailout will get Republicans past the November election, but sooner or later bad economic policy becomes bad politics."

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