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Rep. Ron Kind blasted the president Wednesday for having no clear plan in his trade war with China, saying the farmers and manufacturers who helped elect Trump are now bearing the brunt of his tariffs.

“There’s a lot of weariness in farm country and rural Wisconsin,” Kind, D-La Crosse, said during a conference call with reporters. Wisconsin loses three farms to bankruptcy each day, he said — a trend that will only worsen now that China is blocking all agricultural imports from the United States.

“Many (farmers) were hopeful that this guy knew what he was doing, that he had a long-term plan or strategy,” Kind said. “I hate to disabuse them of that notion, but I don’t see it. I’ve never seen it. China has a long-term vision — 30, 40 years. He has 2020 vision, whatever sets him up for the next election cycle.”

Ron Kind

Kind

Trump, calling out China for unfair trade practices, has worked to escalate tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

The latest example came Sunday, when the countries announced another round of tariff increases on each other’s goods. Now, more than two-thirds of consumer goods the United States imports from China is being taxed at a higher rate.

Trump said negotiations with China will continue later this month, but that “we can’t allow China to rip us off anymore as a country.”

In the meantime, Kind said, Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers and families will be among those hit the hardest.

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Without China as a customer, area farmers are sitting on more product than they can sell domestically, and crop prices and being driven down.

Numbers from the Institute for Supply Management show that the United States’ manufacturing economy is shrinking for the first time in three years, stoking fears of a recession.

And Chinese tariffs could compel American retailers to raise the price of consumer goods, weeks before the holiday shopping season.

“It’s not just family farms — the impact on our main streets is tremendous, and all businesses are feeling the impact,” Kind said. “I’ve never seen a president work harder to plunge our nation into another recession, especially heading into his own re-election chances next year.”

Kind also criticized Trump for using his executive powers to impose the tariffs unilaterally, rather than going through the World Trade Organization, a group that has drawn Trump’s ire in the past.

He is drafting a bill with Republican Sens. Rob Portman and Pat Toomey, in hopes of rolling back some of the president’s powers on trade.

“There is wide bipartisan agreement that the president has overstepped his boundaries,” Kind said. “Congress is supposed to be the principal party in administering trade policy. It’s time for Congress to start clawing back a lot of that authority.”

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Kyle Farris can be reached at (608) 791-8234 or kfarris@lacrossetribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Kyle_A_Farris.

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