Staff Columnist

Trump hurts Iowa farmers. But do you want socialism?

President Trump throws out hats that say
President Trump throws out hats that say "Make our farmers great again!" after the Roundtable Discussion on Workforce Development at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa Thursday, July 26, 2018.

Gov. Kim Reynolds says President Donald Trump is an “advocate for farmers.” Sort of like a corn borer is an advocate for corn.

Reynolds, co-chair of Trump’s reelection campaign in Iowa, defended the president at a news conference Tuesday, even after the administration issued 31 waivers to oil refineries, reliving them from the obligation of blending fuel with billions of gallons of ethanol or biodiesel. The waivers have jolted Iowa’s homegrown fuels industry.

“I’m just not sure that he fully understood maybe the ramifications of what that means. I would say that he has a pretty good idea now of what those ramifications entail,” Reynolds said of a president his supporters tout as a business mastermind. Apparently he didn’t understand blending less ethanol would be bad for ethanol processors and farmers. It’s complicated.

Reynolds is loath to sharply criticize the president because she values the “relationships” she has with Trump and his cabinet. She can call them on the phone.

And just because Trump’s biofuels and trade policies are delivering blow after blow to Iowa’s farm economy, small towns and manufacturing base, she likes other stuff he’s done. There were the big tax cuts and some regulatory changes.

And what choice does she have?

“I’m not in favor of socialism, so I prefer the policies that he’s put in place. But it doesn’t mean that there’s not going to be areas where I disagree,” Reynolds told reporters.

So that’s the choice, as the governor sees it. It’s either stick with a president whose policies are damaging your state or embrace socialism.

Or maybe the choice is you’re either co-chair of the Trump campaign or governor of Iowa.

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One makes feeble excuses for terrible decisions. The other might tell the president she’s not interested in supporting his reelection until he cleans up this mess. Reynolds should check with Terry Branstad, who stood up to Ronald Reagan during the farm crisis of the 1980s.

But, in reality, Reynolds and other top Iowa Republicans have embraced Trumpism so tightly there’s probably little chance of escape. They cheered as Trump stood on stages in Iowa vowing to rip up trade deals that were good for Iowa agriculture and wage trade wars that surely would hit farmers. He extolled the virtues of fossil fuels and made fun of wind energy, another Iowa industry.

Maybe they just misunderstood the ramifications.

Trump’s trade policy has wiped away the massive Chinese market for Iowa grain and livestock. Rebuilding it, if the war ends, will take years. But top Iowa Republicans seemed far more agitated when news stories disparaged lean, finely textured beef as “pink slime,” or when the USDA floated the idea of meatless Mondays in its cafeteria.

The president has instituted his own version of “ag gag.” Don’t get caught on camera criticizing the president too harshly.

Speaking of socialism, the Renewable Fuel Standard Trump is undercutting with waivers is a government mandate. And the administration is sending billions of dollars to farmers because it decided to disrupt open markets. So maybe socialism is just a dodge Republicans pull out when they don’t want to talk about their lousy policies.

But, really, it’s all about relationships. Iowa Republicans and Trump. The corn and the borer.

Comments: (319) 398-8262; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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