Trump's $12 billion bailout for farmers who've lost access to foreign markets because of Trump's trade war was suppose to be available in two installments of $6 billion, but the second installment may never be available.
Now, stay with me, because this is about to get very, very stupid.
The second round of Trump's bailout isn't being delayed or canceled because farmers no longer need it. In fact, you may recall that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue was recently confronted by farmers who haven't even received what they're owed under the first round of Trump's bailout.
The decision to delay the second round of the bailout wasn't made by the Department of Agriculture; it was made by the White House.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is withholding approval for the second round of the bailout because Trump says it's no longer needed.
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The White House is delaying additional payments from a $12 billion aid package for farmers stung by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China because it expects Beijing to resume buying U.S. soybeans, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The move comes despite a lack of evidence in agricultural markets of any return by China to the U.S. soy market. [...]
Trump told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday that discussions to resolve U.S. trade disputes with Beijing were taking place by telephone, and that China was “just starting” to buy “tremendous amounts” of U.S. soybeans.
The Office of Management and Budget at the White House is now holding up approval of the second and final tranche of aid payments Trump had promised farmers stung by the trade disputes due to concern over the cost of the program, and because it wants to see if the trade issues with China are resolved, the three sources told Reuters.
Reuters tried to put it delicately by saying there's no evidence of "any return by China" to the market, but what they're saying is Trump is a liar.
China is not buying American soybeans, at least not yet.
The Office of Management and Budget is canceling the bailout because Trump says something that hasn't happened yet is actually happening right now.
So, you have the White House making economic policy based not on empirical reality, but on Trump's vivid imagination.
Even if China agrees to reenter the market for American agriculture in 90 days when trade negotiations end, the earliest that could actually make a significant difference is during the next harvest season in the late summer and fall of 2019. Moreover, the damage has already been done by Trump's trade war and it's not as if the losses of 2018 will vanish in a puff of smoke if China reenters the market during the next season.