Johnson blasts Trump on trade, calls it 'Soviet' economy

The same day that President Donald Trump gushed on Twitter that "tariffs are great", his administration disclosed plans to pay billions in aid to USA farmers getting slammed by tariffs on their goods, a new report said Tuesday.

"The administration must develop a support mechanism that will mitigate the significant damage that is being inflicted upon our most vital global markets for years to come", he said in a statement.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said the plan would spend billions on "gold crutches". "For decades, we've seen tariffs, we've seen barriers to selling product, and it needs to be fixed". China alone imported $12.3 billion of USA soybeans previous year, according to the USDA. "Unfortunately, America's hard-working agricultural producers have been treated unfairly by China's illegal trading practices and have taken a disproportionate hit when it comes illegal retaliatory tariffs".

The plan, however, has already magnified objections among some Republicans that the tariffs amount to taxes on American consumers. "I applaud the Administration for taking this needed action, and I am confident that President Trump, Secretary Perdue, and Ambassador Branstad are all working diligently to open China's markets to greater trade in Iowa's agricultural products".

Tariffs levied by President Trump against traditional American economic partners like China and the European Union may hurt farmers in the short-term, but according to the CEO of the Summit Agricultural Group, the tariffs could ultimately help the agricultural sector. "America's farmers don't want to be paid to lose - they want to win by feeding the world", Sasse said in a statement.

Trump is set to visit Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday and will travel to IL and Iowa later in the week - all states that are beginning to see the impact of US and retaliatory tariffs.

"This announcement is substantial, but we can not overstate the dire consequences that farmers and ranchers are facing in relation to lost export markets", he said.

The US president is meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday. These Chinese tariffs have hit farmers particularly hard.

Shortly after her comments, Heitkamp announced a new bill aimed at helping farmers and ranchers recover their losses as a result of the administration's trade policies.

Trump's trade policies have become central in several rural-state US Senate races ahead of congressional elections in November.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Johnson said these trade disputes "could just totally run out of control" and likened them to "throwing a hand grenade of uncertainty" into the economy.

Yet for all the harsh words, Politico reported there is little to no movement to stop the tariffs or the bailout to farmers whom the tariffs are hurting.

The imposition of punishing tariffs on imported goods has been a favored tactic by Trump, but it has prompted US trading partners to retaliate, creating risks for the economy.

He's threatening to use the national security justification again to slap tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts, potentially targeting imports that previous year totalled US$335 billion ($494b).

  • David Armstrong