White House

Opinion: Trump’s Trade Policies Are Already Hurting Texas Ranchers


*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

Many political pundits have opined, rightly, that in his drive to “make America great” Donald Trump is going to hurt a fair number of Americans whether it is economically, socially or physically. Of course it isn’t atypical of any Republicans’ proposed agenda to do damage to the people; it is a seeming violation of conservative ethics and morality to do anything beneficial for the people unless they are extremely wealthy, extremely evangelical, or extremely racist. What has been, on the one hand, humorous that many of Trump’s and Republicans’ most ardent supporters will feel the adverse effects of a government run by Republicans first. However, it is a travesty that everything the Trump, and the Republican Congress, intends to do will affect all Americans; including the nearly 60 percent of the people who disapprove of the Trump.

One of the groups that almost certainly supported the Trump, and Republicans, exclusively are members of the agricultural community and particularly those in Texas; a deep red state. Now it is being reported that the Texas cattle industry is facing a crisis due to Trump’s wrong-headed trade policy and although it is terrible, the ranchers have no-one but their fellow Trump voters to blame. And, they likely voted for Trump because he likes to talk about wars, but those ranchers are already the first casualties of Trump’s “trade war” and like every trade war, it is the working people who suffer.

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The online version of the Dallas Morning News reports that cattle ranchers in the Lone Star state are facing a devastating downward “slide in cattle futures,” loss of a “long-sought after” access to the Japanese markets, and crippling requirements of increased “collateral for loans for ranchers.” All because of Donald Trump’s “blustering, blundering” trade policy and the mere threat of a trade war with Mexico and canceling the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

First, cattle ranchers across America were anticipating an opening for their product placement in the highly lucrative Japanese market courtesy of the TPP. That market loss is going to be taken up, with heightened enthusiasm, by Australian cattle ranchers. What is curious indeed is that ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership  before it was implemented was very popular among Trump’s supporters, but it was “not a popular policy with the nation’s cattle ranchers” who were also Trump supporters.

Those cattle ranchers, in Texas and across several states, have spent the past several years building up their herds in anticipation of shipping their superior beef products to Japan as tariffs under the TPP were set to fall from 38.5 percent to a little over 9 percent. Now that Trump scuttled the TPP, that lucrative opportunity vanished along with reasonable interest rates for cattle ranchers and the futures market that devalued the price of American beef. All that damage is the result of Trump’s first 20 days in office.

It is a sad fact of life, but red-state Texas ranchers are not alone in suffering Trump’s boneheaded trade policies. It is going to affect:

Beef producers from Nebraska to the Dakotas, grain farmers in Kansas, corn fields of Iowa, tomato farmers in California and Florida, autoworkers in Michigan, longshoremen at ports along the East, West, and Gulf Coasts, truckers and railway workers in Miami and Houston and Long Beach.”

Although those industries and states will be the first to feel the effects of an ignoramus setting trade policies, they are only  the first casualties of Trump’s trade policy and war. The downstream effects will touch every American not only in job losses, but in the cost of living hikes as a result of higher prices and supply shortages when America’s trading partners take their business elsewhere. It will also have an adverse effect on the international community and that is not just this author’s opinion.

One of the “big three” nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (NRSRO), Fitch Ratings, is not as name-recognizable as Standards and Poor’s (S&P) or Moody’s, but it is just as reputable and dependably accurate in its economic assessments. Fitch has already warned that Trump’s “erratic foreign and trade policy is causing so much uncertainty that even foreign government debt is starting to look shaky.”

According to Fitch Ratings most recent report:

The Trump administration represents a risk to international economic conditions and global sovereign credit fundamentals. U.S. policy predictability has diminished, with established international communication channels and relationship norms being set aside and raising the prospect of sudden, unanticipated changes in U.S. policies with potential global implications.”

No sane human being alive would consider that the kind of economic assessment, or prediction, one that instills confidence in the world’s economic leader; it is actually having the polar opposite effect. It is why all those Trump supporters will likely rue the day they opted to vote for a candidate because he pledged to purge Muslims and Mexicans from America instead of one supporting sound and proven effective economic and trade policies.

It is really becoming more difficult every day to comprehend how economically hurting so many Americans, and such a broad range of industries, is supposed to make America great. It is a mystery how long before the people who voted for Trump realize that they fundamentally cut their own economic throats over Mexicans and Muslims, but it will probably be about the same time they comprehend that when Trump said he, and only he, could make America great that he had no intention of making it “great” for anyone but the oil industry and the wealthy elite.

**The above article includes reports with commentary by R Muse**

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