Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

According to Donald Trump, tariffs are the greatest, while trade wars are good and easy to win. Apparently he didn’t consult with the folks in America’s so-called “heartland” about any of that.

Now there’s evidence that Trump’s escalating trade war could cost his party dearly in November. This morning, political analyst Kyle Kondik, who writes the Crystal Ball newsletter for the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, updated his ratings on 17 House races. The new ratings illustrate how anxiety in the Farm Belt is weakening Republicans’ strength there: All 17 changes were in favor of Democrats.

Iowa Representative Steve King’s 4th District is hit harder by Chinese soybean tariffs than any other congressional district in the country. King will probably hold on to his seat—his race moved from a “Safe Republican” rating to “Likely Republican”—but voters in his district are plainly unhappy.

Another member of Iowa’s congressional delegation, Representative David Young, isn’t as fortunate. His 3rd District seat moved from “Leans Republican” to “Toss-up.”

Farm Belt Republicans in Indiana and Illinois have seen their races drift in the same direction: Indiana Representatives Trey Hollingsworth (9th) and Jackie Walorski (2nd) moved from “Safe” to “Likely,” while Illinois’s Peter Roskam (6th) shifted from “Leans Republican” to “Toss-up.” In Kentucky’s 6th District, home to nearly 18,000 farmers, Andy Barr’s race moved from “Leans Republican” to “Toss-up.”

We can now add “an inability to problem-solve” to the president’s long list of things that make him unfit for office.

One reason Republican strategists are so worried about the trade war, though, is that Trump doesn’t appear to have an exit strategy—and, as his tweet this morning demonstrated, he seems more intent on ratcheting up trade hostilities than diminishing them.

So what does a mob boss do when his love of hostilities threatens the support of his loyalists? He buys them off, of course.

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Tuesday a $12 billion package of emergency aid for farmers caught in the midst of President Trump’s escalating trade war the latest sign that growing tensions between the United States and other countries will not end soon.

Personally, I don’t begrudge these farmers the assistance they need as a result of this president’s idiotic policies. But Trump assumes that he can play them for fools with this attempt to buy them off. Let’s hope they’re too smart for that.

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