As the election in 2020 draws nearer, more attempts have been made to solidify political aid and increase political support from Trump’s various support groups, including over $20 billion in aid to his rural areas. An increase in aid to farmers would not be unlike various packages that have come to farmers in the past, ultimately for the same purpose, to make sure that rural America continues to support, in this case, the political agendas created by Trump to make sure that his reelection is secure.

Columnist Don Lee, in a recent LA Times article, comments how “Moving to offset the impact his trade war has had on rural America, President Trump has bypassed Congress to send some $20 billion in aid to farmers, mostly going to a bundle of states that are essential to his reelection chances next year.” As Trump continues to make political moves that he hopes will make sure to guarantee his election in 2020, the Democrats continue to carefully monitor his moves, realizing that they will significantly affect how successful they (the Democrats) will be in this election cycle.

Throughout American history, the same jockeying for political positions has ensured American farm policy has always given deference to various rural farm groups, realizing that those groups play a meaningful role in who ultimately win elections.

Master politicians, such as FDR and others, realized early on that listening to the concerns of rural America is important in satisfying such citizens’ goals, which always included providing the economic conditions with which farmers could realize healthy incomes and generally prosper. It is important to also remember that farmers are just one of many groups who have received aid from Washington; in 2008, it was the auto industry that received massive help from Washington.

Nor will the auto industry be the last group that receives help from Washington; there is always a long line of groups waiting for help. Those groups are very active in pursuing politicians that give them more financial strength at the same time that they make sure that they pursue policies, both economic and political, that will see their strength grow.

Of course, in authoritarian societies there is always a partially hidden agenda that influences policy. Those in power want to be able to say their policies are benefiting the country and further solidifying the political strength of those who are in power. This merits mention because of the negotiations and political exchanges going on now between China’s autocratic government and that of the U.S.

On one side, China has a weakening economy, with economic growth rates dropping. On the other, the U.S. economy has seen farm incomes drop in the past few years with the dip in sales of certain farm products to China.

Just like Trump, President Xi Jinping wants trade relationships between the U.S. and China to go forward, helping produce the prosperity that will make his political job easier. Whether Trump and Xi Jinping can maneuver fiscal and monetary policy to provide such prosperity (inevitably making both jobs easier) is a good question that, at this time, has no easy answer.

Author and educator Dave Kaplan writes from his home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

(1) comment

David Collins

Yup, the old Farm Bill has been a political favorite forever. At least the taxpayer money stays in the US instead of being thrown away at foreign countries that just steal it. Better to have it stolen here, I guess.

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