As President Trump’s self-inflicted shutdown drags on into its seventh day with no sign of relief in sight, the burden on everyday Americans is steadily getting worse. While the members of Congress continue to draw their salaries and the President gets to spend all his days in front of the television, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are going without pay and some even forced to work for free.
They aren’t alone in their Trump-inflicted misery. A new report from the Associated Press indicates that the farmers who saw their livelihoods put in jeopardy thanks to Trump’s reckless trade wars are now in danger of having their bailout money cut off if the shutdown continues past the first week.
The United States Department of Agriculture is set to shell out a staggering $9 billion to save farmers “unable to certify production” in response to Chinese tariffs on crops like sorghum and soybeans, but unless the government re-opens on Monday, the direct payments to farmers will be put on hold, along with farm loans and disaster assistance programs.
Over the past year, the Trump administration has slapped over $200 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese products and all imported steel, which predictably resulted in retaliatory tariffs on American products that have dealt a devastating blow to farmers, driving dozens into bankruptcy and forcing the government to step in to save them.
It’s unclear if the tariffs have actually accomplished anything but pile enormous hardship on American businesses and cost the government tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to clean up Trump’s mess — but as Trump’s shutdown has clearly shown, the suffering of the American public means nothing if it stands in the way of Trump getting what he wants, whether it’s a marginally altered NAFTA deal he can take credit for or an extravagant monument to his racism built in the desert.
Original reporting by Juliet Linderman at the Associated Press.