Trump Killing Rural America as Economists at Ag. Dept. Silenced

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Reports showing farmers hurt by the president’s policies have drawn the ire of top officials.

Economists in the Agriculture Department’s research branch say the Trump administration is retaliating against them for publishing reports that shed negative light on White House policies, spurring an exodus that included six of them quitting the department on a single day in late April.

The Economic Research Service — a source of closely read reports on farm income and other topics that can shape federal policy, planting decisions and commodity markets — has run afoul of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue with its findings on how farmers have been financially harmed by President Donald Trump’s trade feuds, the Republican tax code rewrite and other sensitive issues, according to current and former agency employees.

The reports highlight the continued decline under Trump’s watch in farm income, which has dropped about 50 percent since 2013. Rural voters were a crucial source of support for Trump in 2016, and analysts say even a small retreat in 2020 could jeopardize the president’s standing in several battleground states.

For example, two ERS researchers presented a paper at an economic conference in early 2018 that indicated the GOP tax overhaul would largely benefit the wealthiest farmers — generating negative press coverage that staff members said irked senior officials at USDA.

read more at Politico and from the NY Times:

Economists, reports Politico, are fleeing the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service. Six of them resigned on a single day last month. The reason? They are feeling persecuted for publishing reports that shed an unflattering light on Trump policies.

But these reports are just reflecting reality (which has a well-known anti-Trump bias). Rural America is a key part of Donald Trump’s base. In fact, rural areas are the only parts of the country in which Trump has a net positive approval rating. But they’re also the biggest losers under his policies.

What, after all, is Trumpism? In 2016 Trump pretended to be a different kind of Republican, but in practice almost all of his economic agenda has been G.O.P. standard: big tax cuts for corporations and the rich while hacking away at the social safety net. The one big break from orthodoxy has been his protectionism, his eagerness to start trade wars.


And all of these policies disproportionately hurt farm country.

The Trump tax cut largely passes farmers by, because they aren’t corporations and few of them are rich. One of the studies by Agriculture Department economists that raised Trumpian ire showed that to the extent that farmers saw tax reductions, most of the benefits went to the richest 10 percent, while poor farmers actually saw a slight tax increase.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/opinion/trump-rural-america.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Naysayers might like to give excuses and brush this off, as with everything else they brush off; NEVERTHELESS, six economists (NOT farmers) resigned for what they considered to be sound reasons — and, all while the neoconartists keep making sad excuses on comment boards to deflect blame, or some other motive. Typical.

    My father was a dairy farmer. I am aware that small farmers were driven out of business 40 years ago.

  2. Small farmers have been screwed by the AG dept. for at least half a century. Every aspect of farming is controlled by monopolies. Only big ag has the deep pockets to take advantage of this. There are no good guys in that dept. If they had a real conscious they would have bailed long ago. This is just more Trump politics.

  3. 6 economists voted their conscience with their feet, at least.

    Two standards: I note the contrast with how quickly the media hound dogs were set against Obama a year after his election, when it was widely reported that several celebrities stated that he had “let them down and they were sorry they had supported him, but had been duped.” And yet, while a minor voting revolution might be starting to bubble to the surface in this 77th week in front of the 2020 election, hardly any mainstream media says anything derogatory about Trump, except today they reported that Trump “might have stolen a child’s ball to cheat at golf”. REALLY??? That’s devastatingly pithy news. And, this is the best commentary our overpaid media wusses (‘cepting VT) can provide to assure the world they are on the job. Maybe this is an indicator about who we’ve handed the nation over to. Endangered goy, do you even have the Right Stuff to make it through to the 22nd century? Tell me.