President Trump's offer of emergency cash to farmers feeling the brunt of the burgeoning US trade war angered Republicans yesterday, who called it a Band-Aid for a failing policy that has brought the U.S.no closer to better trade deals with China or Western trade partners.
In the first acknowledgment by President Donald Trump's administration that his aggressive trade actions are hurting Americans, the government on Tuesday announced $12 billion in aid for farmers who have been the primary targets of retaliation.
The aid programs include payments to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs, along with purchases of unexpected commodity surpluses and efforts to develop new export markets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
Farm products have borne the brunt of tariffs imposed by trading partners angered by U.S. trade actions, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the aid program will provide relief.
The Trump administration's decision to deliver $12 billion in aid to farmers hit by a burgeoning trade war was panned Tuesday by Republicans in Congress as not fixing the underlying problem - the White House's own trade policies.
Mr Trump promised to have the back of every American farmer and rancher, and he knows the importance of keeping our rural economy strong, he said.
"This is a short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration time to work on long-term trade deals", Perdue said. He added, "This administration's tariffs and bailouts aren't going to make America great again, they're just going to make it 1929 again".
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The response: Lawmakers, business groups and farmers have opposed the president's tariffs, and while some in the GOP backed the aid plan, a number of Republican free-trade proponents criticized it harshly and expressed concern that access to markets lost under Trump's trade war won't be restored.
Perdue said the plan was a short-term solution to the "illegal" response by China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and other major economies to aggressive United States trade sanctions. The program can use up to $30 billion in funding from the Treasury Department to "stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices".
"Well, I think we have a lot of foes". Perdue said more details about the aid will be announced by the beginning of September, which was the timeline he laid out last week.
- Growing Republican backlash - Tweeting about the trade standoff on Tuesday, Trump repeated his call to remove all tariffs and trade barriers. Officials said Congressional approval is not required - only Congressional notification. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said that the plan would spend billions on "gold crutches".
In a speech on July 24, Trump told supporters that his predecessors are to blame for the existing deals, which he called a "disaster".
Earlier this month, 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports of machinery and electronics went into effect, prompting Beijing to respond with tit-for-tat tariffs on American exports of soybeans and other products.
The Agriculture Department predicted before the trade fights that US farm income would drop this year to $60 billion, or half the $120 billion of five years ago.
On Twitter, Trump says people "snipping at your heels during a negotiation" will only delay the process.
"We can not exclude either possibility, but China would not want to see the latter", he said.