Ron Johnson on farm bailout: "This is becoming more and more like a Soviet-type of economy here"

Soviet economy very patriotic, comrade. Self-reliant, like North Korea. All winners, no losers.

To Johnson and every other Republican in Congress: Please, please stop talking. The only thing less dignified than doing nothing and staying silent while Trump wrecks U.S. trade policy is doing nothing and complaining. It’s advertising your impotence. Literally no one, left or right, expects the GOP on the Hill to do a thing about this.

The only comment any Republican in the House or Senate needs to make when asked about the bailout is right here. We bought the ticket, now we take the ride.

“This is becoming more and more like a Soviet-type of economy here: Commissars deciding who’s going to be granted waivers, commissars in the administration figuring out how they’re going to sprinkle around benefits,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). “I’m very exasperated. This is serious.”

“Taxpayers are going to be asked to initial checks to farmers in lieu of having a trade policy that actually opens and expands more markets. There isn’t anything about this that anybody should like,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader. He suggested the new spending might need to be offset by cuts in other funding areas

“You put people in the poorhouse and provide them aid. What you need to do is not put them in the poorhouse,” Corker said. “They put in place a policy that requires farmers to go on welfare.”

After Senate Republicans met privately on Tuesday, Corker fumed over the lack of response to the president’s trade polices from the Republican Congress. “It’s hard to believe there’s not an outright revolt in Congress,” he said.

Literally nothing is easier to believe. Stop talking, Bob Corker. And you too, John Thune: Hush. I predicted in this morning’s post that not only will Republicans go along with the farm bailout, however grudgingly, but they’ll authorize funding for new bailouts as the trade war drags on and other American industries begin to sink. You can see the wheels already turning in Thune’s mind about that. “Maybe the bailout will be okay if we can offset it with spending cuts elsewhere…” You’ll hear that logic again in the not-distant future. And possibly again, and again.

Another unintentionally funny bit from the Politico story quoted above is Corker, Toomey, and Flake hoping that their bill to claw back tariff power from Trump might “pick up new steam” after this morning’s fiasco. You think? All-out nuclear exchange between the White House and McConnell’s caucus three months before the midterms on Trump’s pet issue of protectionism? Because I’m thinking … no. I’m also wondering how Schumer would play that if it came to a vote. The obvious thing to do would be to vote yes: Not only would that undo Trump’s bad policy, it would stoke a Republican civil war by helping McConnell stick it to Trump on trade. Even protectionist-minded lefties would enjoy watching the White House get humiliated by its own party in Congress.

But then I think, what if Schumer instructed his caucus to vote no? Because there are benefits to that too — namely, forcing Trump’s party to live with his own damaging, dunderheaded trade policies. The risk to Democrats in blocking a bill to remove Trump’s trade power would be that they’d share blame for any ensuing economic woes caused by Trump’s protectionism. You can imagine what McConnell would say: “We tried to set things right on trade and were willing to take on the president to do it, but Chuck Schumer and his party wouldn’t let us.” *Potentially* that’d be a godsend for the congressional GOP, letting them point the finger at the Dems for any tariff-related economic slowdown before the midterms. But the risk to Schumer that voters would be persuaded by that message is small, I think. Trump dominates American politics and political media so totally, and has been so outspoken on the virtues of trade war, that I don’t think there’s anything McConnell could do to refocus the spotlight on Democrats if they blocked a Republican bill that would end that war. Schumer could simply say, as he said during the child-separation fracas, that this is a Republican-caused problem and therefore it’s incumbent on Republicans to solve it. If Trump wants to end the trade war himself, Democrats will applaud. Otherwise, let the congressional GOP live with the consequences of his policies.

I can’t figure what Schumer would do. There’s certainly a nonzero chance that Corker’s bill to end Trump’s “national security” power over tariffs would be filibustered and the GOP would be stuck with trade war unto death. We bought the ticket, now we take the ride.

Here’s Trump at the VFW this morning urging farmers to be patient. Just a matter of time before his master battle plan for total trade victory succeeds.

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David Strom 2:31 PM on October 04, 2022
David Strom 1:31 PM on October 04, 2022