by Rick Manning
“No tariffs, no barriers, that’s the way it should be — and no subsidies,” President Donald Trump during a speech to G-7 leaders on June 8, 2018.
Congress has a chance to move the ball forward on achieving this ideal as they consider the farm bill. Representative Ted Yoho (R-Fl) has legislation to end sugar subsidies immediately upon presidential certification that other nations have taken the same steps. The Zero for Zero bill would allow President Trump to confront other major sugar producing nations with a simple stark offer. We agreed to end our sugar subsidies, but it is contingent on you ending yours.
This basic reciprocal tool would empower the president to seek fairer, freer trade and hopefully set a precedent for lowering or ending all agricultural subsidies. In my mind this is a great move forward.
Rather than playing the stale stalemate game between those who abhor agriculture subsidies, particularly for sugar, the Yoho Zero for Zero language changes the debate because it puts the onus on foreign governments like Brazil and India to do the same allowing true free markets to set prices and even production volumes.
It is time for the entire conservative community to embrace the Yoho language and urge Congress to send it to the President to sign. Instead of rewarding cheaters abroad at the expense of U.S. farmers, as some have proposed, zero-for-zero gives the President the capacity to negotiate away foreign sugar subsidies with the promise in hand that ours will be ended when that happens.
The alternative is for those of us who oppose subsidies and those who support them to keep talking past one another for another seventy years.
It is not enough to complain about U.S. subsidies without recognizing the market impact of foreign subsidies and tariffs, and unilateral disarmament on a trade issue runs counter to the President’s let’s all lower our tariffs and subsidies together call to action to the G-7 countries. But by his arguing for eliminating tariffs and subsidies en masse, he opened the door for the Yoho third way and Congress would be foolish not to jump through it.
President Trump gets trade. President Trump is unafraid to push trade envelopes to get a better deal for the American people. It is time to let President Trump take the international sugar subsidies by the throat and try to restore rationality to the market. It is time for Congress to pass the Yoho language and give the President the weapon he needs to achieve success.
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Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.