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Est. April 5, 2002
May 16, 2019 - Issue 789

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The Trump Business Plan

"In the case of his tariffs and his trade wars,
he is doing damage to the nation and not just
to those who have mistakenly chosen to associate
themselves with him.  He has shown himself to
be a personal tragedy, but what he has brought
about as 'leader of the free world' is a national
tragedy and, in turn, a global economic tragedy."

A good con man will convince the mark that something is broken and offer to fix it, for a price, and if it isn't broken, he can break it and offer to fix it.

Something similar is going on with President Trump and his desperate efforts to show his ardent supporters among the nation's industrial farmers that he is going to fix the mess he made for them with his tariffs against China, which is not buying soybeans and other industrial crops from the U.S. Trump told the nation and the farmers that he would take care of them if there were any fallout from the trade attack on China.

When China declined to buy commodities from U.S. farmers with the first round of tariffs, the president simply decided to provide some $12 billion in subsidies to help them out. That was then and this week, he is seeking an additional $15 billion in subsidies to further bail them out, but none of this has been greatly helpful to them, just as his tariffs will put a burden on anything from China that is purchased by American consumers.

He assured the country that “trade wars are easy to win,” and with that, his business acumen is showing. That is to say, his business acumen has disappeared, if he ever had any at the beginning. It's likely that his refusal to reveal his tax returns will show that he is far from the sharp businessman that he professed himself to be. Rather, they are likely to show that he has failed at enterprise after enterprise and that he has cheated and shorted everyone along the way, including contractors, workers, banks, and lenders of varying descriptions.

In the case of his tariffs and his trade wars, he is doing damage to the nation and not just to those who have mistakenly chosen to associate themselves with him. He has shown himself to be a personal tragedy, but what he has brought about as “leader of the free world” is a national tragedy and, in turn, a global economic tragedy. And that's not counting the wasted economic substance and suffering of the wars that he has continued and those he is contemplating, under the tutelage of the advisors who seem to love war for war, itself: John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Eliot Abrams.

For all of this, however, noted at the end of April:Tariffs are draining $1.4 billion out of the U.S. economy every month, according to a comprehensive review published in March by a trio of economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. New jobs created in steel and aluminum manufacturing have come at a steep price, and the trade deficit that Trump vowed to reduce has continued growing.” From most viewpoints, Trump's easy trade war wins and tariffs are not working.

Still, the failures of Trump's policies has not deterred his core followers, including the farmers who are being hardest hit by his policies. Press reports have been that most still support him and his policies. Some said they still have faith in Trump. But this second round of subsidies may be moving them away from that support. One, a soybean farmer, on camera, said recently that “hope is not a business plan.” He didn't say that he was changing his enrollment as a Republican or that he wouldn't vote for Trump again, but he doesn't put much stock in hoping for a recovery.

At the same time, Politico reported that Trump's latest effort to bail out the farmers included the government's buying the grain and distributing it to places where it is most needed. But, the news organization also pointed out that he has proposed cutting out food aid programs, so it would be difficult to fix the system that would allow the grain to get to the people who most need it. Such is the result of impulse decision-making, for which Trump is famous. Who pays for the folly of such bad planning and decision-making? Mostly, it's the taxpayers and we know who they are, since the richest do not pay their share of taxes, it will be wage earners. Usually, no good comes of acting on impulse.

The question is whether China's seeming preeminence in world trade is something to be feared by the biggest economy in the world? Recently, President Jimmy Carter revealed, to his Sunday school class, no less, that Trump called him with those very concerns. Should the U.S. be worried about China's growing power? Yes, replied the oldest living president, he told the current occupant of the White House.

As reported by National Public Radio last month: Carter said he agreed with Trump and asked him, “ you know why?...I normalized diplomatic relations with China in 1979. Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war.” NPR noted that China and Vietnam actually fought a brief border war in early 1979, weeks after U.S. relations with China were normalized, but that is it for their war. He said that the U.S. is the “most warlike nation in the history of the world.”

He also said, “China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that's why they're ahead of us. In almost every way. And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure, you'd probably have $2 trillion left over. We'd have high-speed railroad. We'd have bridges that aren't collapsing. We'd have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea or Hong Kong.” He added, “I wasn't comparing my country adversely to China... I was just pointing that out because I happened to get a phone call last night.”

Phone call or not, Carter was speaking the truth about U.S. aggression in so many parts of the world and, considering that the nation has some 800 bases in 70 countries, while France and Britain have 30 bases, combined, it's not hard to determine where the wealth of the country and its people is going. As we have said here before, the policies of the U.S. government is hollowing out the nation and the American people's ability to pay for the reckless policies of maintaining and promoting wars and preparation for war without end. With that kind of spending (and Trump has not taken a step back from the routine warmaking), there is not and will not be any left over for such things as education, low-cost housing, health care, roads and bridges, and food stamps.

Considering just the cost of his tariffs, at $1.4 billion a month (so far), the $15 billion he proposes to take out of some other part of the federal budget to pay off farmers doesn't seem like such a bad deal. Right? Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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