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Trump aid to farmers on tariffs, trade war lightly criticized by Republicans

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a 'Make Our Farmers Great Again' hat as he speaks during the 2018 Made in America Product Showcase event July 23, 2018 in the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, DC. The White House held the showcase to 'celebrates every state's effort and commitment to American-made products, and will allow these companies to speak with senior Administration officials, including the President, the Vice President, members of the Cabinet, and senior staff.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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  • The Trump administration wants to give a $12 billion
    bailout to farmers getting hit by retaliatory trade policies
    resulting from the president’s tariffs.
  • Republican lawmakers, while traditionally against
    tariffs as a trading tactic, brushed aside the idea of a
    massive bailout of the agricultural industry.
  • Some of President Donald Trump’s most prominent GOP
    critics lashed out at the idea.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration acknowledged the
shortcomings of its heavy-handed policy of imposing tariffs on a
number of goods and products, with Agriculture Secretary Sonny
Perdue announcing that a $12 billion bailout would be on the way
for farmers getting pummeled in the trade war.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans have voiced their opposition to
Trump’s tariffs for the better part of the last year, often times
by
berating Cabinet members and other administration officials

during congressional hearings — or in the form of strongly-worded
letters, speeches, and television appearances.

The recent rebukes, while not on any policy level that would
limit executive authority, have gotten to Trump, who unloaded on
critical Republicans Wednesday morning.

“Every time I see a weak politician asking to stop Trade talks
or the use of Tariffs to counter unfair Tariffs, I wonder, what
can they be thinking?” Trump
wrote on Twitter
. “Are we just going to continue and let
our farmers and country get ripped off? Lost $817 Billion on
Trade last year. No weakness!”

“When you have people snipping at your heels during a
negotiation, it will only take longer to make a deal, and the
deal will never be as good as it could have been with unity,”
he
added
. “Negotiations are going really well, be cool. The
end result will be worth it!”

But even on the president’s latest controversial trade move,
Republicans are largely looking the other way. When asked whether
the bailouts of farmers getting hit as a result of the US
government’s own tariffs is a conservative policy, Montana Sen.
Steve Daines said that Trump is just playing the long game to get
a better deal with China.

“The most important question is what are we going to do to
change China’s behaviors as it relates to unfair tariffs. Why
does a car cost 25 percent if we send it to China while two and
half percent tariff to come to the United States? Why are their
tariffs three times higher?” Daines said. “So the right short and
long term solution is fair and free trade and that’s what the
president is trying to deliver.”

On the subject of the bailouts, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said
that while he does not “support the tariff strategy,” the
US needs to put a stop to Chinese intervention.

“I think what we have to do is make sure China stops it’s
unfair treatment of US farmers,” he said. “We need to open up new
markets.”

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich defended the
bailout as an example of Trump showing he is “not going to back
down.”

“President Trump is right — and we better figure out how to
engage in this fight and win it,” Gingrich said during a
Tuesday appearance
on Fox News.

Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota offered a mixed take, playing
down the size of the bailout to Business Insider but noting that
it is an acknowledgement that the trade policies are very harmful
to the agricultural industry.

“I think we have an ongoing foreign policy — this is within
the ongoing farm bill provisions already there — what they are
coming up with is $12 billion of additional funding that
eventually would have to be paid back. It’s a band-aid, it is
very short term in nature,” he said. “But what the really
important part of this is this sends a message that the
administration is recognizing that the current policy is hurting
farm prices in the upper midwest.”

‘An incoherent policy’

But the regular Trump critics have not budged on their
disapproval. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, laughed off
the idea that bailouts and tariffs even closely resemble a
conservative policy plan.

And few Republicans have been as critical of the Trump
administration’s actions as Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who told
Business Insider that farmers “want trade not aid.”

“It’s an incoherent policy. They have incoherent
solutions,” he said. “They have not even attempted to sit down
with people and work it out.”

“I think the Europeans would be more than glad to go to
zero tariff, which is what all of us would like to see happen,”
Corker added. “But it’s much more difficult to have to sit down
with people and work through tough negotiations than it is to
just go around blowing everything up, which is what [Trump] is
doing.”

But throughout the trade disputes of the Trump
administration, and the headaches they have repeatedly caused
Republicans, not much is to change, as GOP lawmakers in
Washington still have not signaled they are willing to flex some
of their Article 1 powers to limit the tariffs getting slapped on
various industries.

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