Bailouts and Supreme Court Border Wall

Grind for
“I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me – they’re cramming for their final exam.”

– George Carlin

Deja Vu

The Headline

Trump Administration announces $16 billion handout to US farmers

The Grind

The Trump Administration will be offering American farmers up to $16 billion to make up for profit losses related to the trade dispute with China.

The aid package provides between $15 and $150 per acre based on location, with higher rates in the South and lower rates in the Midwest. Payments are capped at $500,000 per applicant and will be offered only to individuals who made less than $900,000 a year between 2014 and 2016.

Farmers who lost crops due to flooding and heavy rainfall can apply for a payment of $15 per acre.

The Details

The program, which begins next month, adds to a $12 billion aid package to farmers in 2018.

“President Trump has a great affection for America’s farmers and ranchers and it’s pretty evident in this program,” says Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue.

Farmers are a key Trump constituency, and despite the trade war, nearly 80% of American farmers and ranchers still approve of Trump’s performance as president.

“While we are grateful for the continuing support for American agriculture…America’s farmers ultimately want trade more than aid,” says Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “It is critically important to restore agricultural markets and mutually beneficial relationships with our trading partners around the world.”

The $16 billion program will cover 29 commodity crops including corn, wheat, soybeans, sorghum, and upland cotton; dairy and hog farmers; and specialty crops like nuts and cranberries.

The Background

The trade dispute with China began in April 2018 when Trump announced steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports (from all suppliers). China immediately responded with a 25% tariff on 128 US products.

In July, the US imposed a 25% tariff on $34 billion in Chinese goods and China responded with a tax on $34 billion in US goods.

In September, the US levied a 10% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese imports and China responded with a tax on $60 billion in US goods.

Both sides called a halt to new tariffs in December and China agreed to purchase a “very substantial” amount of US products.

In May, the Trump Administration announced it would increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10% to 25% and accused China of backtracking on a drafted trade agreement.

To date, China has purchased only 13.6 of the 20 million tons of soybeans it agreed to buy.

Moving Forward

The Headline

Supreme Court allows Trump to spend Pentagon funds on border wall

The Grind

The Supreme Court this week voted 5-4 to block a California judge’s attempt to stop President Trump from using Pentagon funds to build the border wall.

“Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall,” tweeted Trump. “The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!”

The ruling gives Trump the go-ahead to use $2.5 billion on border wall projects in Arizona, California, and New Mexico.

When Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border in February, he asked for $6.7 billion to build the wall. Congress granted him $1.4 billion to build “primary pedestrian fencing.”

The Details

Opponents say Trump should not be allowed to use Pentagon funds to build the wall because those funds were not authorized by Congress for that use.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) criticized the Court’s decision and accused Trump of ‘stealing’ military funds to build a “wasteful, ineffective border wall rejected by Congress.”

Others are concerned about the potential effects on communities and ecosystems.

“Today’s decision…will wall off and destroy communities, public lands, and waters in California, New Mexico, and Arizona,” argues Gloria Smith, an attorney with the Sierra Club.

The Takeaway

Despite his lack of progress on the border wall, Trump has been successful in persuading Mexico and Guatemala to take action to reduce the flow of Central American migrants into the United States.

In June, Mexico agreed to boost border security and house asylum seekers.

This week, Guatemala signed an agreement that requires all migrants from El Salvador and Honduras who pass through Guatemala to ask for asylum there before heading to another country.

In exchange, Trump has promised to help Guatemalan farm workers find jobs in the US.

Did you know… Ants make up 1/10 of the total world animal tissue. The total biomass of all the ants on Earth is about equal to the total biomass of all the people.