Larry Angler, a farmer in Iowa, voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. Now, he says he does not plan to vote for him again because of massive economic losses he expects to incur due to the escalating trade war with China.
Speaking to CNN for an interview aired Wednesday, the Iowan said he expects his family will lose about $100,000 to $150,000 as a result of the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing. When asked by the CNN correspondent if he voted for Trump, Angler was quick to respond:
“I did! I’ll never vote for him again!”
Other Iowan farmers interviewed by CNN also expressed frustration with the president, as well as skepticism about his ability to improve trade ties with China.
“He’d better hurry up and start producing a little bit,” said farmer Greg Beaman. “Because this negotiation I’m seeing so far has not panned out.”
Robert Ewoldt told CNN he has been able to keep his farm afloat only by working a second job as a truck driver. “This is survival at this point. I mean, for a lot of operations it is a survival thing,” he said. Ewoldt added that he voted for Trump and now has regrets.
Trade tensions with China have increased steadily since last year, when Trump slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of Chinese imports. China responded in kind, targeting a variety of U.S. goods with new levies. This past weekend, as trade negotiations reached an impasse, the White House raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25 percent. Trump also directed officials to begin the process of raising tariffs on nearly all remaining imports from China, valued at about $300 billion.
The U.S. agriculture sector has been especially hard-hit by the trade war because China was purchasing large quantities of soybeans and other products from American farmers. In an effort to curb the tariffs’ impact, the Trump administration rolled out a $12 billion subsidy program to bail out farmers last year. Trump has suggested that he would do this again as trade tensions continue.
“Out of the billions of dollars that we’re taking in [from tariffs], a small portion of that will be going to our farmers,” the president said this week. “We’re going to take the highest year—the biggest purchase that China has ever made with our farmers, which is about $15 billion—and do something reciprocal to our farmers.”
But the president appears to lack a basic understanding of how tariffs actually work, insisting that China is paying the additional taxes. Economists and even current and former members of his administration have pointed out that U.S. businesses and consumers actually pay the tariffs the president has implemented. Although China may face economic fallout from its products being made significantly more expensive in the U.S. market, and therefore less competitive, the Chinese do not pay the tariffs.
In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Trump’s director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, admitted that the president’s insistence that China would pay is inaccurate. He also said “both sides will suffer” as the trade war continues.