Republican lawmakers are warning President Donald Trump that traditionally GOP-supporting farmers — who are bearing the brunt of the tariffs — are losing patience with the trade war as senators work to craft yet another bailout package.
“If this is what it takes to get a good deal, I think people will hang in there, but at some point we’ve got to get it resolved.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has been among the most vocal critics of the president’s trade policies, which have in part led to much volatility on the stock market in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, Grassley, the chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, went right at Trump in accusing him of not listening to his concerns about the latest trade dust-up that saw Washington raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. Beijing hit back with tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. imports, mostly on the agricultural industry and farmers because China is looking to strike back at Trump’s base of supporters in a game of dirty pool.
“I’m not sure if you talk to him face to face, he hears everything you say,” Grassley said in a Washington Post interview.
He then said the trade war will no doubt have an effect on the 2020 elections, namely the presidential election.
“It’s going to have some impact on elections, of course,” Grassley told The New York Times. “So far, I haven’t seen farmers abandoning Trump, but it’s going to have some impact.”
Other Republicans also are breaking from the president, warning him that traditionally red areas of the country are losing patience.
“I’d say the farm community is right on the edge of having been as supportive as they can be before that begins to turn,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Miss., told Bloomberg. “But hopefully the president will come to some conclusion here soon.”
However, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said constituents in the farming communities need to hold the line and good things will come.
“If this is what it takes to get a good deal, I think people will hang in there, but at some point we’ve got to get it resolved,” he said. “If this goes on for a long time, everybody realizes it’s playing with a live hand grenade.”
Cornyn also said Trump’s farmer bailout plans are “inadequate.”
Vice President Mike Pence met with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, urging them to stand with the president, who is planning $15 billion bailout on top of the $12 billion bailout he gave them last July.
Few farmers who rely on China for their exports thought the trade war would last as long as it has because Trump kept assuring everyone that a deal was close.
“We kept hearing that talks were going well, it sure looked like this was all going to be taken care of soon,” Chair of the American Soy Bean John Heisdorffer said Tuesday. “There’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of emotions right now for farmers.”
More than 75% of voters in the Farm Belt voted for Trump in 2016, and are a large, important segment of his support base. The GOP senators who are the most upset right now all represent states in the Top 20 of agriculture production.
Editor’s note: Do you think Trump will lose the support of farmers if the trade war goes on too long, or do you have faith he’ll get a deal done soon? Discuss in the comments below.