Scrambling to soften the blow of his destructive trade wars, President Trump is offering a $12 billion bailout for farmers facing retaliation from America’s trading partners hurt by his tariffs. It’s a desperation move, and it won’t do much to reverse the damage the administration has inflicted by senselessly raising duties on steel, aluminum and other imports from Canada, Mexico, the European Union, China and elsewhere.
Mr. Trump’s tariff increases were never needed in the first place. Indeed, the plan to pay off farmers — theoretically, voters in many of the president’s political strongholds — is the latest in a series of incoherent and haphazard economic decisions that the Trump administration has made in recent months, often in an attempt to clean up after it failed to think through the consequences of its earlier actions. In retaliation for Mr. Trump’s tariffs, China, the European Union, Mexico and other countries quite predictably imposed tariffs on soybeans, corn, pork and other products, and so — equally predictably — demand, and therefore prices, dropped for these commodities. The agriculture sector is understandably upset. But a one-time payment is no way to fix this problem the president created.
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