Sen. Cotton tells farmers trade war will hurt, but real war is worse

Defending President Trump’s ongoing trade war with China in the face of impending economic hardship for American farmers, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., downplayed those concerns as “minimal” compared with the sacrifices made by U.S. troops killed while fighting overseas.

“These tariffs are going to end up hurting both Chinese and some Americans, I'll grant you that. I think they'll ultimately hurt the Chinese more than they will Americans, in part because the Chinese — companies and their government — have been cheating the United States for so long,” Cotton said when asked Monday by “CBS This Morning” about the economic effect a new round of tariffs would have on farmers. “There will be some sacrifice on the part of Americans, I grant you that, but I also would say that sacrifice is pretty minimal compared to the sacrifices that our soldiers make overseas that are fallen heroes that are laid to rest in Arlington make."

Farm bankruptcies have soared over the past year as the price of corn and soybeans have plummeted. Retaliatory Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans have made a difficult economic environment that much tougher on American farmers. While asserting that the trade war with China is good for the overall U.S. economy, Trump recently proposed another $15 billion in bailout funds for U.S. farmers, on top of $12 billion last year.

A Bronze Star recipient, Cotton served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now sits on the Armed Services Committee. He has been a staunch Trump defender.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in 2018. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

“When I’m home in Arkansas, I hear from farmers who are worried about opening markets and about getting their products to market,” Cotton said. “But they also understand that China is a serious competitor to the United States and wants to displace us around the world, and they look at the sacrifices that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines make around the world and they’re willing to bare some of those sacrifices in the short term to hopefully in the long term ensure our long term prosperity and security.”

Asked by co-host John Dickerson why the administration didn’t frame the trade war as a necessary sacrifice rather than inaccurately portray it a windfall to the Treasury, as Trump repeatedly has done, Cotton promoted what he saw as a silver lining.

“China will ultimately be paying a price for these because Americans may be shifting their consumption or their investment decisions away from Chinese products,” Cotton said.

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