November has arrived, officially kicking off the holiday season – one of my favorite times of the year. I love a big Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and stuffing and family gathered around the dinner table. And I love seeing the faces of my family on Christmas morning as they open their gifts – full of joy and happiness. But there is a looming black cloud that’s threatening to squeeze too many families this holiday season and the months moving forward.
First let me say, I support President Trump and his efforts to stand up to China. I supported the President in 2016. I believe he has America’s best interest in mind as he’s taking on longstanding and unfair trade practices and efforts to invigorate our economy. Take, for example, President Trump’s 2017 tax reform that cut annual taxes for an estimated 65 percent of Americans according to the Tax Policy Center. And President Trump also repealed the Obama Administration’s harmful Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that threatened Iowa’s farmers and Iowa property owner’s ability to access their isolated ponds and tributaries.
Yet, while these policies have directly benefited middle-class Iowan’s, tariffs continue to put us under a tight squeeze. And as we head into the holidays I can’t help but worry about the impact they could have on our family. Iowans have paid $186 million in additional tariffs since this back-and-forth with China started back in February of last year. Even more concerning, we’ve faced $386 million in retaliatory tariffs – or tariffs China has slapped on American exports to their country – which has significantly hurt Iowa farmers. Farmer bankruptcies are on the rise and exports are on the decline. That spells bad news for Iowa’s economy long-term.
That’s not all. The Iowa Business Council’s Economic Outlook Survey fell for the second quarter in a row – proving that Iowa companies are worried about the economy and may choose not to hire new people or expand their business. And it’s not just here in Iowa. We’ve seen news story after news story reporting that companies across the country are worried.
President Trump has made it clear he wants more trade, not less. But he’s not willing to let countries like China walk all over us and take advantage of American workers. It’s about time that we have a leader stand up for us. In fact, Vice President Mike Pence stopped by Manning Farm near Waukee this past month to promote the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), the newest trade deal negotiated by the Trump Administration. The USMCA updates NAFTA and puts American workers first. It’s proof that President Trump can negotiate big trade deals that help Americans. Now we just need the same thing to happen with China.
We’ve seen some good progress with China in the last month. It looks like a smaller deal has been struck, with China agreeing to buying $40 or $50 billion worth of American agriculture. That’s great news for farmers here in Iowa. But we need more.
I hope that President Trump is able to strike a deal soon that gets rid of all these tariffs on both sides. Especially with the holiday season approaching. The last thing Iowa families need to see is higher prices at the register when they go to buy Christmas gifts for their family and friends. It’s not going to make them very happy. Many Iowans are still behind the President, but if we can’t get tariffs control soon, I don’t know how many of my friends and neighbors will continue to be.
Hopefully, Vice President Pence was able to hear firsthand accounts of the difficulties caused by tariffs when he was in Iowa and can share those concerns with the President. I know that President Trump is fighting every day for Iowans and that we need him back in the White House. But I’m worried that these tariffs are going to make that much harder.