One thing lost in all the bad news for Donald Trump over the past week has been the looming trade war with China which has been called a “ticking time bomb” that is set to explode later this summer. However when it comes to the actual impact on people’s lives — especially millions of Trump voters — his tariffs and the trade war will be much more important than what happens on the Mexican border.
What has been missing from much of the national publicity so far (but has not been missed in farm state newspapers) is that after Trump’s tariffs go into effect next month China will retaliate with $50 billion worth of tariffs on agricultural products.
What China has done is look at their imports from the United States, figured out which ones come from mostly “red” states, and then announced they will be imposing tariffs on these red state products. The #1 cash crop for American farmers is soybeans (used in tofu and many Asian food dishes). And China is the #1 customer for American soybeans. It’s the same way with pork, which is much more popular in China than in the United States.
According to the Washington Post, unless a new trade deal is done with China in the next few weeks the ticking time bomb will go off — and many small family-owned American farms may go out of business. And there is no indication that Trump is planning to do any sort of deal to make his harmful tariffs go away.
The Post article says that many people advising Trump on trade want a deal to be made to avoid the disaster of a trade war.
“He’s set himself up perfectly for that attack,” said a spokesman for the American Enterprise Institute. “There’s a group inside the administration that very, very much wants a deal.”
But if Trump backs away from driving a hard deal with China it may upset his “base” because Trump has been promising he would “fix” the trade deficit with China from the very beginning of his campaign.
“The Democrats are champing at the bit to win back what they see as their natural constituency: working-class voters,” said a Democrat who had worked for Joe Biden. “I would bet you many Democrats are going to move into that space immediately.”
And experts have confirmed that China’s planned tariffs on U.S. goods are intended to deliver a blow that hits Trump’s supporters the hardest.
“They have mapped this out to a very fine level of detail, down to congressional districts,” a China expert from Princeton University said. “It is intended to inflict maximum pain on people they recognize as being Trump’s primary constituents in hopes that it will make him change course.”
Many of the states which have Democratic U.S. Senators up for reelection this year have economies based on agriculture, such as North Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio. So by stubbornly fighting a misguided trade war with China Donald Trump may inadvertently be helping Democrats take back control of both houses of Congress.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.