President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he’s prepared to fork over still more massive taxpayer subsidies to help farmers get through the trade wars he concocted.
He also falsely claimed yet again that money “coming into the country” from tariffs will cover the costs. In fact, tariffs imposed by him are paid by American companies that import goods or parts, which typically pass those costs onto U.S. consumers. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in a report two weeks ago that the tariffs will cost the average American family $1,277 this year.
Trump has already directed the payment of an extra $28 billion to farmers on top of regular subsidies to mitigate the effects of his trade war and retaliatory tariffs. Nearly 40% of farm income last year was provided by government insurance and taxpayer subsidies.
But farmers, who are credited with helping him win the 2016 election, are still struggling mightily with the impacts of the trade war, as well as weather complications and international food prices. Farm bankruptcies last year were up 24%.
The Trump administration last month signed a “Phase 1” trade deal with China that includes a pledge from China for major purchases of U.S. farm goods. But China’s struggle with the outbreak of the coronavirus could impact that plan.
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office is launching an investigation into how Trump’s farm subsidies are handed out amid complaints that the money is not going to those who need it most, but to regions most important to Trump’s reelection, and to corporations.
The probe is being initiated at the request of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who has complained that the program is providing more funds to southern states that voted for Trump and favoring large and foreign agriculture companies over small farms.
“It’s clear that the Trump Administration’s trade assistance payments pick winners and losers rather than help the farmers who have been hit the hardest by this president’s trade policies,” Stabenow wrote in a letter last month requesting the investigation.