The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a short-term spending bill to finance government operations until Nov. 21.
The federal government’s fiscal year ends Monday. This bill would avert a shutdown Tuesday by providing nearly two more months of funding so legislators can hash out their differences. The U.S. Senate will take up the bill this week — and passage there is nearly certain.
“While congressional leaders and the White House reached agreement in July over nearly $1.4 trillion for defense and domestic programs, 12 annual bills are necessary to outline how that money will be divided among agencies, programs and departments,” a New York Times story published Sept. 19 reported. “The House this year passed 10 of those bills, but at different funding levels than in the budget agreement. But those bills cannot be reconciled until the Senate passes its own versions.”
Buried deep within the bill is a provision to provide about $20.5 billion to the Commodity Credit Corporation, overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It funds agricultural programs with a goal to “stabilize, support and protect farm income and prices,” according to information from the Federal Register. “CCC also helps maintain balanced and adequate supplies of agricultural commodities and aids in their orderly distribution.”
The CCC has a spending limit of $30 billion, and the financial bailouts that farmers have received is the primary reason that this cap is about to be breached. Tariffs imposed against China by the Trump administration have severely hurt farmers, who can’t sell much of what they produce to their customers there. So tens of billions of dollars have been provided to farmers to compensate for their losses.
If Congress does not allocate more money for the CCC, the USDA will hit its spending cap for the programs this initiative offers. Legislators, therefore, have sweetened this pot.
Seeing how much taxpayers are shelling out for such folly, we don’t understand why President Donald Trump doesn’t reverse some of his decisions on this issue. His approach to bringing China to heel is not working — plain and simple.
Adding to the problem is the president’s repeated claims that China actually is paying these tariffs. No, that’s not happening! They’re being paid for by U.S. consumers in the form of higher prices for items we import from China and by U.S. taxpayers in the form of government subsidies doled out to businesses that have lost markets.
And here’s something else to consider. The budget deficit surpassed the $1 trillion mark last month. This demonstrates how much money the government has borrowed to keep on spending.
And whom do we borrow most of our money from? China.
So the nation we’re trying to punish through tariffs reaps additional funds from us as we continue borrowing from it to compensate those hurt by the trade war. Does any of this make the least bit of sense?
The sensible answer, of course, would be for Mr. Trump to rein in his trade war with China. Rather than have Americans subsidize farmers for the items they can’t sell, the administration should do what it can to reopen these markets and let commerce do its job.
There’s no doubt we should pursue measures to ensure China abides by the rules when it comes to trade. But the president’s actions have wreaked havoc on U.S. industries — including agriculture — and are hurting taxpayers.
This model of keeping farmers afloat is unsustainable. They deserve to ply their trade as they’ve always done, by profiting off what they produce. This trade war madness with China must stop now.