More than 90% of the money disbursed by a program that compensates American farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs during President Trump’s trade war with China was sent to counties that voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election, according to a report Tuesday evening in The Washington Post.
The Agriculture Department’s Market Facilitation Program, which distributed more than $23 billion in 2018 and 2019, sent about $21 billion to Trump counties, and just $2.1 billion to counties won by Hillary Clinton.
“That this disparity falls so heavily along political lines is a function of the likelihood of rural voters to support Trump, certainly,” the Post’s Philip Bump says. “But that doesn’t detract from the point that this was nonetheless a massive redistribution of money to places that supported Trump.”
Bump points out that farm subsidies were funded by tariffs on Chinese imports – a cost that is borne by all Americans and not, as Trump insists, the Chinese. “It’s as though a Democratic president decided to tax Americans broadly to send billions of dollars to the country’s largest cities,” Bump writes. “The recipients would overwhelmingly be members of his or her own party.”