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Tester calls bailout for U.S. farmers a temporary “Band-Aid”

Posted at 8:08 AM, May 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-27 10:08:35-04

Democratic Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the only working farmer in the Senate, blasted President Trump’s handling of the escalating trade dispute with China, calling the White House’s $16-billion bailout for U.S. farmers a temporary “Band-Aid.”

“It is a Band-Aid,” Tester said on “Face the Nation” Sunday, referring to Mr. Trump’s economic bailout for farmers hurt by the prolonged trade war with Beijing. “Farmers want to get their check from the marketplace — not from the federal government.”

The Montana Democrat, one of two incumbent Democratic senators who survived tough challenges last year in states the president won by more than 10 percentage points in 2016, accused Mr. Trump of writing a check financed by U.S. taxpayers to solve a problem of his own doing.

Tester stressed that he was not saying the bailout was not necessary — or unhelpful to farmers — but noted the “bad commodity prices” stem from Mr. Trump’s decision to enter a tick-for-tack confrontation with China “without a plan” or the support of U.S. allies. “He had a plan to hold China accountable but yet didn’t know how to implement the plan,” Tester said.

The president has repeatedly claimed that China will bear the brunt of newly imposed tariffs and be required to pay billions of dollars to the U.S. He has bragged about loving to collect “big tariffs” and warned Chinese officials to continue negotiations, which broke down earlier in the month after he accused Beijing of backtracking on a potential trade agreement.

But Tester said China’s mercantilist policies should be confronted through a different and, in his view, more effective avenue. He said his farm and others have already been negatively affected by the tariffs issued by Mr. Trump.

“We should’ve had our allies on board,” he added. “China’s been a bad actor but not just the United States, to countries all over the world. Let’s bring the world community together and apply pressure instead of just the farmers of the United States of America.”

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