Economy & Business

Toomey Calls Trump’s Aid to Farmers ‘Very Bad Policy’

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) speaks in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Senator Pat Toomey broke with President Trump Wednesday, calling the administration’s plan to give U.S. farmers $15 billion in aid to offset the deleterious effects of the trade battle with China “very bad policy.”

“It’s a very bad policy,” Toomey, a top member of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters. “Think about what we’re doing. We’re inviting this retaliation that denies our farmers, the most productive farmers on the planet, the opportunity to sell their products overseas and then we say, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll have taxpayers send you some checks and make it OK.’ That’s a very bad approach.

The White House raised tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports from 10 to 25 percent on Friday, after accusing the world’s second-largest economy of reneging on the terms of a trade deal they had previously agreed to. China retaliated by raising tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow admitted Sunday that “both sides will pay in these things,” referring to the tit-for-tat tariff battle with China.

“Tariffs are not in and of themselves a good thing. Tariffs at best can be a tool that might produce good results. But they are themselves dangerous and a painful tool that hits both the country against which the tariffs are being imposed and the country that is doing the imposition,” Toomey said. “I think the recent developments with China are illustrating this. It’s certainly true that tariffs on Chinese products can be painful for parts of China, although, oddly, so far Chinese imports to the U.S. have not declined, American exports to China have declined and our trade deficit with China has worsened despite these tariffs.”

The Pennsylvania Republican added that “the jury is still out” on whether an acceptable trade deal with China will materialize, and said that he has spoken directly to the president about his objections to no avail.

“The president doesn’t agree with my macro view on trade, it’s fair to say,” he admitted.

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