May 15, 2019 by Tom Aswell (Louisiana Voice)
As Vice President Pence QUIETLY CATNAPPED through the State of the Union Address on Feb. 5, Donald Trump declared, “We will never be a socialist country.”
Fast forward to May 13 (that’s the day before yesterday and barely three months after that SOTU declaration.
Trump ramps up his trade war with China, imposing new tariffs on Chinese imports that he claims will bring money into the U.S. treasury when, in fact, the proposed tariffs only mean that U.S. consumers will be paying more for goods from China.
You see, that’s the way tariffs work. It’s the buyer (American citizens) who will be paying the tariffs, not China. Trump doesn’t seem to be able to grasp that.
China retaliated by announced its own new tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, including $19.6 billion in agricultural exports to China in 2017, more than 14 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports.
No problem, Trump says. He’ll just push through a new RELIEF PACKAGE for farmers to the tune of about $15 billion.
That’s in addition to the $12 billion in farm aid Trump provided last year following China’s retaliatory tariffs.
So, the U.S. will now borrow even more money from China to pay our own soybean farmers not to sell soybeans to China? Is that about it?
But wait! Let’s go back to that SOTU declaration. Wouldn’t ensuring farmers won’t go under in the wake of failure of capitalism (brought on, of course, by Trump’s trade war) be pretty much the very definition of socialism?
Of course, Republicans have repudiated socialism by voting repeatedly over the past two decades to increase their salaries while voting against raising the minimum wage 14 times. (In the interest of accuracy, it should be noted that congressional pay raises are automatic unless members vote specifically to refuseincreases—not that they’re prone to do that with any regularity.)
Senate Republicans have already expressed their trepidation over the tariffs and the trade war but if they had the courage of their convictions, all they need do is pass a bill to halt Trump’s petulant trade war. And with the Democrats who would join them in a bipartisan effort, they’d certainly have enough votes to override a veto.
But they don’t and they won’t.
Where, for example is Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina? According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, long-time ally of the Republican Party, South Carolina will be the THIRD-HARDEST HIT state by the trade war with nearly 600,000 jobs and $30 billion in goods tied directly to trade.
Yet Graham is strangely silent on all matters related to the tariffs but has advised Trump staffers to ignore Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas.
And then there’s Louisiana, the fifth most adversely-impacted state, with 16.5 percent of its exports headed for China.
So, where are John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy? For that matter, where are Reps. Steve Scalise, Clay “The Cajun Mouth” Higgins, Mike Johnson, Garret Graves and (especially) gubernatorial candidate Ralph Abraham, who just happens to represent the very part of Louisiana hardest-hit by agricultural export tariffs?
Speaking of Abraham, Lamar White, publisher of BAYOU BRIEF, had a revealing story last week about how farmer-doctor-congressman Abraham and his family have raked in $2.6 million in government farm subsidies from 1995 to 2017. Farmer-doctor-Congressman Abraham personally received $68,000, and the Ralph and Diane Farm Partnership (that’s farmer-doctor-congressman Ralph Abraham and his wife) received an additional $514,000. His son-in-law, Dustin Morris, raked in a little more than $975,000 while his wife Ashley Abraham Morris, farmer-doctor-congressman Abraham’s daughter, pulled in an additional $592,000 over the same period.
And oh, farmer-doctor-congressman Abraham also just happens to be a member of the House Agriculture Committee.
Here’s a RUNDOWN of members of congress who received at least $100,000 in farm subsidies:
Senate or House Agriculture Committee members:
- Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa: $322,000;
- Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzier of Missouri: $972,000;
- Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa of California: $1.8 million (33 percent of $5.3 million paid to family);
- Republican Rep. Frank Lucas of Ohio: $105,000;
- Republican former Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee: $3.7 million;
- Republican Rep. Deb Fischer of Nebraska: $381,000
- Republican Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri: $143,000;
- Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California (one of Trump’s most vocal cheerleaders): $244,000 (25 percent of Sunset View Farms which received $748,000);
- Republican former Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana: $220,000;
- Democrat Sen. Jon Tester of Montana: $330,000;
- Democrat former Rep. Gwen Graham of Florida: $238,000;
- Republican Mac Thornberry of Texas: $160,000;
With 11 of 13—counting Abraham—being Republican, perhaps the Grand Old Party isn’t as militantly anti-socialist as it purports to be—unless, of course, it can blame socialism for programs to aid the poor. That’s a different matter altogether.