Trump’s speech was a triumph—for now

The Jan. 8 address by President Donald Trump to the annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation was a triumph for the president. Before an adoring crowd of 4,500 people in Nashville, Tennessee, Trump extolled the farmer while extolling his triumphs.

Yes, over 1,500 regulations from all federal agencies have either been amended or removed. Some 76 of those have been cast out from the books of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The new tax bill has reduced corporate taxes and greatly reduced individual taxes on larger incomes. Smaller incomes will receive smaller paybacks while certain folks in the middle will likely see smaller refunds, depending on their past itemization activity.

The speech also was notable for what Trump didn’t say as much as what he did say.

He soft-pedaled the issues of trade and immigration, and on the upcoming farm bill, Trump—as well as Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue earlier in the day—said the administration would offer guidance but let Congress write it.

During the speech, Trump introduced Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-KS, who had flown on Air Force One with the president from Washington. There had been reports that Trump was wavering about supporting crop insurance in a new farm bill, a concept Roberts supports. The president’s speech showed otherwise in his recognition of Roberts.

“Thank you, Pat. Oh, does he love the farmers. Pat, does he love those farmers. Right, Pat? Stand up, Pat. Do you love the farmers, Pat? ‘Yes.’ He’ll come in—we’re talking about a different subject, he’ll say, ‘What about the farmers?’ That’s good. That’s why they love you,” Trump said.

“And I’m looking forward to working with Congress to pass the farm bill, on time, so that it delivers for all of you. And I support a bill that includes crop insurance, unless you don’t want me to,” Trump said to applause. “Thank you. I guess you like it. Right? Good, because if I heard no applause, I’d say, forget it, give it up. (Laughter.) Now I can’t do that. No, we’re working hard on the farm bill and I think it’s going to go well.”

The remarks seemed to give relief to those who were fearful the administration would not support a strong crop insurance area of a commodity title in the farm bill.

Since Trump’s departure from the glow of Nashville comes new questions official Washington will have to ask itself moving forward for rural voters—a group important for every senator up for re-election this fall, since every senator has rural voters and in this kind of election year—the rural vote could mean the difference between winning and trying to find a job at a K Street lobby shop sooner than an ex-senator would have hoped for.

Already, the president and congressional leaders have been in open dialogue over an immigration bill. News source videos showed Trump suggesting Congress could protect Dreamers—young, undocumented immigrants—while improving border security and putting other contentious issues off for later. At other times, he said some of his additional conservative priorities, such as installation of a border wall with Mexico must be included.

In the video, you could see confusion on the faces of Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike as Trump veered from one position to the next. Finally, when the cameras departed, reports from various media say they decided to further examine possible legislation that would create new limits on family-based immigration, the diversity visa lottery that admits immigrants from underrepresented countries, help for the Dreamers and added border security, whatever type of security that might be.

Trade will be another matter, as Trump has announced he will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the winter landing spot for globalists. It adds to the stunning rebukes of Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and a leading critic of globalism.

What will Trump, who already faces skepticism from American agriculture over a redraw of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, say to these people is anyone’s guess. Will he recant everything he said in his march to the White House about trade and globalism to the gathering of other world leaders, movers, and shakers?

As always, expect the unexpected.

Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or [email protected].