It’s one thing to be a loyal political subject, as Congressman Roger Marshall has proven to be for the Trump monarchy.
But when that loyalty makes one appear completely ignorant — or simply makes that ignorance more apparent — it might be time to reconsider to what extent one is willing to play the fool in the name of this president.
Marshall has proven his obedience to Trump with his shifting position on the border wall and his ability to turn a blind eye to the treatment of refugees at the border with Mexico, even after making a trip to see what’s happening first-hand.
However, Marshall’s willingness to gloss over the economic plight facing farmers in the largest agricultural district in the nation is a disservice to those he’s been elected to represent. In fact, following a recent visit to northwest Kansas, Marshall says he saw a level of “optimism that I hadn’t seen in awhile.”
Obviously, he didn’t walk into the local co-ops to see the latest market prices, and he must have overlooked the large piles of unsold grain being stored in bunkers and we will presume he didn’t accompany any farmer who was visiting with his local banker for a loan extension.
If you can ignore those small details, yes, optimism reigns across farm country.
Had Marshall taken a break from waving the Trump banner he might have heard from farmers they’re going to need about 50-bushel wheat to break even. That’s not just optimism. That’s divine intervention.
Maybe farmers will reach that 50-bushel average — or whatever is a breakeven margin in their operation. Maybe they’ll even do better if current projections for a great harvest ring true.
Let’s not interpret that as a sign of optimism, or that the tide is turning, or that this president has a clue about the end result of his tariff tirade.
It’s good fortune. Period.
Breakeven, however, only buys time. It doesn’t buy a certain future.
And the only thing less stable than Trump is Mother Nature — and banking on conditions which might bring 70- or 80-bushel wheat or a bumper harvest in the fall. Evangelicals may want to see Trump as the Second Coming, but he doesn’t get credit for what Mother Nature hath provideth.
Instead, give Trump credit for effectively dismantling anything resembling stability or certainty with our trading partners and the buyers of our ag products through his complete ignorance of tariffs and trade.
Give Trump credit for USDA projections that say net farm income in 2019 will fall to its third lowest level over the last decade.
The billions of dollars that Trump is handing out to ag producers through the Market Facilitation Program is little more than hush money meant to calm the king’s subjects while he’s throwing a royal economic tantrum.
The U.S. Commerce Department cited the agricultural welfare payment as the reason for a slight boost in farm income during the fourth quarter of 2018. However, the impact of the tariff war saw farm income nosedive in the first quarter of 2019 at an annualized rate of $11.8 billion.
Where’s your optimism now, Congressman Marshall?
The MFP can provide temporary cover for the president, but it can’t hide his ineptitude.
And for the farmers who continue to support this president with the hope that “things will get better if we just stick with Trump long enough” — let us know how much that collateral is worth at the bank.
What you can bank on is typical Trump word garbage being hauled around in wheelbarrows by the likes of Marshall who reminds “patriot” farmers that the president has their back. In fact, the president has such great appreciation for the sacrifices being made by farmers that he wants them to sacrifice a little more.
Trump’s proposal for the 2020 budget would cut the federal subsidy for crop insurance premiums from 62 percent to 48 percent and further limit subsidies for growers who make less than $500,000 annually.
Patriots don’t complain. They simply answer the call of duty.
Meanwhile, Marshall has chosen sides.
“I am standing beside the president,” Marshall said. “His policies are working.”
Of course, Marshall prefers to avoid specifics about which policies are working and whom they are working for. But those aren’t details which should concern true patriots.
The Trump banner is being carried proudly by Marshall across Western Kansas. Perhaps his loyalty will be rewarded with a place in the Trump kingdom and maybe even a title . . . a baron, maybe, or an earl, or perhaps even a duke.
Then again, he’s better suited to be the court jester . . . if he can survive the intense competition.
Rod Haxton is publisher of The Scott County Record.