The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
Wisconsin played a pivotal role in helping to elect President Trump in 2016, and he will definitely need our state again to win re-election in 2020. And with his solid record in office, it’s clear to understand why he deserves another term.
Just take a look at the economic growth in our state under this president’s leadership. In March of this year, our state’s unemployment rate was an astonishingly low 2.9 percent.
But it’s not just here in Wisconsin where we are seeing the benefits of President Trump’s leadership. The United States is now in its longest economic expansion period in the history of our country, with more than 120 months of economic growth. At the same time, the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.6 percent, the lowest it’s been since 1969. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, manufacturers’ confidence is at 79.8 percent and the stock market continues to hit historic highs.
Unfortunately, the ongoing trade war is threatening to derail all of the great things President Trump has accomplished for our economy, especially here in Wisconsin.
After more than a year of the back-and-forth with China, one thing is clear: tariffs aren’t working to fix the China situation. Many people don’t realize this, but tariffs are actually a tax that American businesses and consumers pay, not foreign countries. In an effort to push China to come to the negotiating table and play fair, President Trump began putting tariffs on Chinese goods that were imported to our country. In response, China began putting tariffs on American goods we send there – including some of Wisconsin’s top agricultural products like soybeans and cranberries. The impact has been devastating on Wisconsin farmers, who have already been hit with severe weather issues that have hurt their crops.
Tariffs hurt more than just Wisconsin’s farmers. Last year right here in Fond du Lac County, the Wisconsin Soybean Crushing Plant (WSBCP) announced its plans to build a $150 million soybean crushing plant in Waupun. This plant would immediately bring good paying jobs to our county and reduce costs for Wisconsin soybean farmers while spurning economic growth in our area. According to the City of Waupun, “The proposed project is projected to have a significant economic impact…Beneficiaries include local producers, equipment and machinery manufacturers, other value-added agriculture processors, and businesses in the construction and logistics service sectors to name a few.”
But the developers are now struggling to find the financial backers they need to get the project off the ground because of the uncertainty in the market due to the trade war, and they have put the project on what looks to be an indefinite hold. Waupun Mayor Julie Nickel said in a statement on Facebook, “National policy changes on tariffs that occurred late last year and their impact on soybeans have definitely slowed progress on this development. While the project continues to be of interest to the city for the reasons previously stated, we recently met with the developer and a decision was made to allow the land option that we had with that developer to expire.”
As Chairman of the Republican Party of Fond du Lac County, news like this worries me. Clearly, most of President Trump’s economic policies have been great for Wisconsin – and we need another four years to keep this expansion going. But the trade war not only threatens to undo all of the great economic work President Trump has done, but may also hurt his chances of winning re-election.
Everyone knows that China is not a fair player when it comes to trade. Unfortunately, previous American leaders have turned a blind eye to what China is doing. China absolutely must be held accountable and I’m glad that President Trump has rolled up his sleeves and stepped into this fray to stand up and fight for American workers! But tariffs are not the way to do that. I hope the president will find another way to hold China accountable that doesn’t continue to hurt Wisconsin farmers, businesses and consumers.
–Bishop is the chairman of the Republican Party of Fond du Lac County.