Thursday, August 29, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He promised farmers still yet another bailout to undo the damage of his other policies.

Recently, Trump issued a rule allowing oil refineries to ignore laws requiring them to add ethanol to their gasoline. This will save some expense in the energy sector, but it is a potential disaster for farmers growing ethanol-producing crops, who are already reeling from the effects of Trump's trade war.

Trump has been worried about his collapsing political support among farmers, and today he teased some kind of make-up program, although he gave no details. In a tweet, he promised that "The Farmers are going to be so happy when they see what we are doing for Ethanol, not even including the E-15, year around, which is already done. It will be a giant package, get ready!"

In other words, if it happens at all, Trump is talking about yet another taxpayer-financed farm bailout. 

Trump has already dipped into the Treasury for two rounds of government crop purchases, using a program originally created to keep farms afloat during the Great Depression. With trade talks with China going nowhere, he recently promised a third round for the election year 2020.

The cost of the farm bailouts is greater than the total amount of tariffs collected, although the amounts aren't nearly enough to make farmers whole for the business that Trump's trade war has cost them. But there are other reasons why the bailouts are extremely unpopular with farmers. The bailout money has gone mostly to large agribusinesses, including foreign-owned companies. When it has trickled down to family farms, it's been late

Why should I care about this?

  • Farmers aren't as stupid as Trump seems to think they are.
  • Bad policies have consequences.