Trump’s Trade War Taking A Toll On His Base

Ken AshfordChina, Economy & Jobs & Deficit, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Trump probably thinks like this:

(1) Coal and steel workers getting killed by cheap China imports
(2) If I raise tariffs on imported coal and steel from China, the coal and steel industry will offer more US jobs
(3) Reelection!

Obviously, he knows that there is such a thing as a “trade war”, but he thinks he can win it (or at least, create the perception of winning it) because… well, coal and steel.

And to be sure, Trump’s approval HAS gone up in West Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania.

But Trump was warned by virtually everybody of every political stripe that China would retaliate and YOU DON’T WANT A TRADE WAR.

Did he listen? No:

The Chinese tariffs would almost certainly hit farmers and others who voted for President Donald Trump harder than those who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Of the top 10 soybean-producing and exporting states, eight voted for Trump and only two for Clinton.

The new penalties are largely seen as retaliation for the tariffs the Trump administration announced against China, the largest purchaser of American soybean exports. In addition to steel and aluminum tariffs, the White House also announced Tuesday additional tariffs on Chinese electronics and other technology-related items.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, whose home state was the second-biggest producer of soybeans exports in 2016, the last year such Department of Agriculture statistics were available, said he had warned the president of exactly this sort of retaliatory move during a White House meeting in February.

“The Administration knew that if it imposed tariffs on Chinese goods, China would retaliate against U.S. agriculture,” Grassley said in a statement. “Today shows that’s exactly what happened.”

Grassley added that although the United States should defend its interests against foreign countries who aren’t playing by international trade rules, farmers and ranchers should not bear the brunt of any trade war.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said he would be addressing the issue of tariffs through that panel, which oversees patent, copyright and trademark policy, as well as in his capacity as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade policy.

In addition to soybeans, China is also imposing tariffs on more than 20 other critical American farm and ranch exports, including corn, pork and beef, which will largely hit the same states. The list also includes whiskeys, which would hit Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky particularly hard.

McConnell and his House counterpart, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., have long warned that the United States’ aggressive actions could spur a trade war. During a visit with farmers and business leaders in his home state Tuesday – before China announced its new tariffs – McConnell expressed concern over what he viewed as a growing trend in the administration to wield tariffs as a trade cudgel.

It’s  11:00 and the Dow is down 375 points. It’ll probably bounce back some, but this trade war (plus an underwhelming jobs report for February — new job creation stalled and blue-collar wages were flat) is taking its toll.

Trump’s emails — from two days ago and again just 25 minutes ago — seem to be clueless about the issue.

Even if he is right about the problem, he sure as hell isn’t making it better.

UPDATE: 4:10 pm and Dow is down 572 for the day.  Was down 800 at one point.