Texarkana, TX 68° Tue H 80° L 68° Wed H 88° L 71° Thu H 87° L 71° Weather Sponsored By:

President's trade war hammers the Midwest

President's trade war hammers the Midwest

December 3rd, 2018 by The Dallas Morning News in Opinion Editorial

From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump made it clear that he wanted to save the "rusted-out" and "shuttered" factories that litter the Midwest and much of America. By calling it "American carnage" in his inaugural address, the Donald seemed to offer himself as the answer to the economic disruption that has rippled through the lives of millions of Americans.

Several months into his term, Trump put meat onto the bones of his policies by announcing punitive tariffs, starting with steel and aluminum. But now it should be clear that the negative effects of the ill-advised trade war have begun to creep into the United States business ecosystem.

GM reports that the tariffs have taken a $1 billion bite out of the bottom line. The firm once derisively known as Government Motors has also announced plans to can 14,000 workers and shutter five manufacturing plants. It's a good thing that Michigan and Ohio don't factor into anyone's presidential plans.

Meanwhile, the economic storm is hitting farmers, too. The Minneapolis Federal Reserve reports 84 upper Midwest family farm bankruptcy filings this year, the highest since 2010. The cause? Lower commodity prices. A cynic might say something along the lines that maybe we needed those Chinese markets open to soybeans after all.

Of course, there are many economic factors at play. We're well aware of the cyclical nature of the automobile business and the volatility of commodity prices. But we also know that forcing a firm to take a $1 billion hit and shuttering markets to American farmers aren't exactly the kind of steps you take to enhance the employment prospects for American workers and farmers. When soybean sales to China drop by 94 percent over one year, farmers are not better off.

The president's allies insist his tariffs are a negotiating tactic and will help the very industries they have hurt. But then, as the president resurrects a Depression-era farm bailout program, demands that GM open a new plant in Ohio and threatens to cut off subsidies that help the automaker, it's hard to believe his strategy is working as designed.

At the risk of jinxing the American economy, we should probably mention that none of this gets easier if the U.S. heads into a recession before the president negotiates the better deals he promises. In that case, we just might find out how hard it really is to win a trade war. But by then the president just might find out how hard it is to win re-election amid economic disruption.

The Dallas Morning News

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com