Trump’s Tariffs and High Prices Are Sinking the Midwest

You can call ’em tariffs or you can call ’em taxes, but they’re all the same to me. Tory Newmyer reports from the heartland:

In Iowa, Mike Naig, the state’s Republican secretary of agriculture…. “Current commodity prices are not equaling the cost of production … There has been a 20 percent drop in prices.” In South Dakota, Kolberg-Pioneer, which manufactures equipment for making crushed stone and gravel, is contemplating its second price increase of the year to deal with higher steel prices thanks to Trump’s metals tariffs…. Meanwhile, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader’s Dana Ferguson and Jeremy Fugleberg report the trade fight has “already cost South Dakota farmers and ranchers hundreds of millions of dollars, experts said, as the value of their crops has dipped.”

….In Utah, the steel tariffs could add roughly $15 million to the cost of a new state prison already over budget. …In Wisconsin, a range of businesses are feeling the effects of retaliatory tariffs from Canada, designed as a “surgical strike” on the state and others that backed Trump, Scott Gordon of the Wisconsin State Farmer writes: “With new tariffs on greeting cards, tissue paper, napkins, toilet paper and even playing cards, Canada puts pressure on a range of products that has represented more than $2 billion in exports from Wisconsin to that nation over the past decade.”

That’s just a sampling. Some other headlines:

  • From WECT in North Carolina: “Trump’s trade war with China could affect local jobs”
  • From the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri: “’Trying to keep the faith’: Missouri farmers brace for Trump’s trade war—and drought”
  • From WKRG in Mobile, Ala.: “Local leaders say Trump tariffs threaten Mobile economy
  • From The Day in New London, Conn.: “Local manufacturers feel the pain of aluminum, steel tariffs
  • From the South Bend Tribune in Indiana: “Indiana farmers not exempt from prolonged tariff battle”

Do all these folks still think it was a great idea to vote for Trump? Dave Weigel takes the pulse of the Midwest:

Doubts about the ongoing tariff battle and about the administration’s agenda on health care, spending and immigration have changed the terrain. Rather than back the president and Republicans, the Midwest has begun to flirt with candidates who would keep them in check. In Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio, Democratic senators once thought to be endangered have rebounded and are in fairly safe positions. In House and gubernatorial races, Democrats have grown more competitive since the start of the year.

….Across the Midwest, Republicans also have found themselves on the defensive for different sets of Trump administration actions. Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) has tried to separate himself from the administration’s moves to undermine the Affordable Care Act. “Our bipartisan plan invests $200 million to help lower premiums for Wisconsin families, because we can’t wait for Washington to get the job done,” Walker says in one TV ad.

In other states, Democrats are capitalizing on the administration’s decision not to pursue a large infrastructure funding package. Abby Finkenauer, the Democrat running in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District — another stop on Pence’s tour — said the lack of infrastructure funding had given her an easy opening among voters who had switched from Obama to Trump. “The administration talks a big game about infrastructure but hasn’t done a whole lot,” Finkenauer said. “I tell people that I want to go to Congress, work across the aisle, pass an infrastructure bill, put it on his desk and see if he signs it.”

But perhaps Trump will come back from Helsinki with the world’s greatest deal ever from Vladimir Putin. That’ll show everyone.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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