One of President Ronald Reagan’s (Rep., 1981-1989) favorite political sayings came from a song popular in his youth: “dance with the one that brung ya.” President Donald Trump (Rep.) should have listened to his political mentor and talked to the Koch Brothers prior to introducing his trade tariff policy.
Why should Trump have consulted with Charles and David Koch? They contributed over $889 million to Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign.
With 120,000 employees working in the Koch Brother’s 60 country business empire, curtailing import and export trade will significantly hurt their pocket book. Did Trump also ask our 535 U.S. legislators for their thoughts on imposing trade restrictions? Nope.
Trump’s ever expanding trade tariff policy that now includes Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Brazil, 28 European Union countries, Turkey, Japan, Taiwan, India, China and Russia will greatly disrupt Iowa’s soybean, corn, pork, beef, turkey, egg and ethanol production sectors. Additionally, Iowa’s 19 agriculture equipment manufacturers’ profitability, income of 211,373 farming operators and every citizen’s purchasing power will be negatively affected by Trump’s tariff policy.
How upset are Charles and David Koch with Trump? They are launching a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to promote free trade. The ads, paid by the three Koch-affiliated groups (i.e., Americans for Prosperity, The LIBRE Initiative and Freedom Partners), will ask Trump to cease and desist his proposed tariff policy. Over 3 million Americans are Koch-sponsored network activists.
Furthermore, over 100 Republican House of Representatives have sent a letter to the president expressing their misgivings about the President’s erratic international trade tariff discourse and resulting trade war that will hurt manufacturers, employees and consumers.
Rep. Paul Ryan (Rep., Wis.), Speaker of the House and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Rep., Ky.), Senate Majority Leader, have both said nothing good will come out of the trade tariff and ensuing trade war. And, Ryan and McConnell have also said there is little they can do to stop Trump.
During June 3’s Face the Nation (CBS) program, Gov. John Kasich (Rep., Ohio), said he was “shocked our leaders have to ask permission from the president to do anything.” Kasich called on Ryan and McConnell to stand up to Trump on the issue: “I think they ought to make it very clear (legislatively) that they’re not going to just sit back and tolerate this.”
Additionally, Republican Senators Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) are proposing a measure to limit Trump’s power to impose tariffs. And 95 percent of America’s CEOs recently expressed grave concern over the Trump administration’s approach to trade.
Moreover, a rift between Republican donors and the party’s base has also erupted. Forty-six percent of Republicans, the old guard Reagan’ites, say free trade and an open market policy is “good.” Conversely, 48 percent of the Trump authoritarian-protectionist-nationalist Republicans think free trade is “bad.”
The drama for Trump doesn’t stop with his trade tariff debacle. The Koch Brothers are also unhappy with the president and the GOP regarding DACA; they support assisting the 3.6 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. And, the Koch Brothers have asked Trump to not abandon NAFTA and to re-join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Opposition to Trump’s trade tariff policy from Republicans, campaign contributors, CEOs and the people who voted him into office has come full circle back to the business man who, 500 days into office, is proving he’s neither the king nor suited to be the leader of the free world. Dancing lessons for Donald Trump should have started before June 16, 2015, when he formally announced his candidacy to become America’s 45th President.
Steve Corbin is Professor Emeritus of Marketing, University of Northern Iowa, and a 1966 graduate of Nevada High School.