Ag Policy Blog

GOP Candidates Touch on Ag, Farm Issues in Debate

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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In the midst of the slings and arrows during Thursday night's GOP presidential debate in South Carolina, there were a few nods toward business concern for farmers among the candidates, largely by candidates challenging the stances of others on the stage.

In an argument about trade and Chinese currency manipulation, Donald Trump argued China would capitulate to the U.S. Jeb Bush responded that such actions would come back on U.S. businesses, including soybean farmers, as well as manufacturers such as Boeing.

"So the soybean sales from Iowa, entire soybean production goes -- the equivalent of it goes to China. Or how about Boeing right here within a mile?" Bush said. "Do you think that the Chinese, if they had a 45% imposed on all their imports wouldn't retaliate and start buying Airbus? Of course, they would. This would be devastating for the economy. We need someone with a steady hand being president of the United States."

Ted Cruz concurred with Bush on that point. "You know, I sat down with the senior leadership of John Deere. They discussed how -- how hard it is to sell tractors in China, because all the regulatory barriers. They're protectionist," Cruz said. He then added, "But Jeb is also right that, if we just impose a tariff, they'll put reciprocal tariffs, which will hurt Iowa farmers and South Carolina producers and 20% of the American jobs that depend on exports."

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In the argument over whose tax plan is better for Americans, Cruz defended his flat-tax proposal by highlighting the other taxes that would disappear as a result.

"This is a business flat tax. It is imposed on business and a critical piece that Marco seems to be missing is that this 16 percent business flat tax enables us to eliminate the corporate income tax. It goes away. It enables us to eliminate the death tax," Cruz said. He added, "If you're a farmer, if you're a rancher, if you are small business owner, the death tax is gone. We eliminate the payroll tax, we eliminate the Obamacare taxes."

Marco Rubio later on challenged Cruz by claiming Cruz had changed his position on immigration reform, as well as flipping stances on cuts to crop insurance and ethanol policy..

"Ted Cruz, you used to say you supported doubling the number of green cards, now you say that you're against it. You used to support a 500% increase in the number of guest workers, now you say that you're against it. You used to support legalizing people that were here illegally, now you say you're against it. You used to say that you were in favor of birthright citizenship, now you say that you are against it," Rubio said. Rubio then added, "And by the way, it's not just on immigration, you used to support TPA, now you say you're against it. I saw you on the Senate floor flip your vote on crop insurance because they told you it would help you in Iowa, and last week, we all saw you flip your vote on ethanol in Iowa for the same reason."

The statements here came from a Washington Post transcript of the debate: https://www.washingtonpost.com/…

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN.

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