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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 23, 2018)
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
KATHRYN B. BROWN
Opinion Page Editor
Founded October 16, 1875
Trump’s chance to prove he’s serious on ag
Many people in agriculture find
something to like about President
The way the president and his
Cabinet have pumped the brakes on
ever-expanding regulations is enough
to show U.S. farmers and ranchers that
their interests are being taken seriously
in how the federal government manages
The encyclopedic Waters of the
U.S. rules were a good example of
how regulation writers can spin out
of control. By the time the rules
were written, they had created more
problems than they solved, and farmers
and ranchers were worried that any
pothole on their property could be
Other regulations written by the
Obama administration had sent a
lightning bolt of concern through
farmers and ranchers as they worried
how much the federal government
would intrude on their livelihood.
But there remains an undercurrent
of concern about Trump and his
And for many in agriculture, trade
isn’t an issue — it’s the issue.
About 90 percent of the wheat grown
in the Northwest is sold to customers in
Asia and elsewhere. Dairy, cattle and
pork producers rely on exports. So do
almond and hazelnut growers and apple,
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
President Donald Trump hands an executive order to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny
Perdue, right, after reading it at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual
convention Monday, Jan. 8, in Nashville, Tenn.
cherry and other tree fruit growers. In
fact, if it’s grown in the West, odds are
much of it is sold overseas.
To do that, farmers, ranchers and
processors rely on treaties such as the
North American Free Trade Agreement.
NAFTA includes Canada and Mexico.
Together, those nations bought $39
billion in U.S. agricultural products last
year. The treaty has opened many doors
for U.S. farmers and ranchers.
Last year, the U.S. posted an overall
agricultural trade surplus of $21.3
Other U.S. industries did not
fare as well under NAFTA, so
the administration has set about
Agriculture’s plea: Do no harm.
During the campaign, Trump and his
opponent, Hillary Clinton, took turns
bashing the Trans-Pacific Partnership
(TPP), which included 11 other nations,
including Canada, Mexico and another
huge customer, Japan, which bought
$11.8 billion in U.S. agricultural crops
and goods last year.
What neither candidate apparently
didn’t realize was that agriculture
needs free trade, the more the better.
Without an agreement, tariffs and
other roadblocks put U.S. farmers and
ranchers at a disadvantage.
Trump has promised a better
NAFTA and individual trade
agreements with TPP partners.
Progress has also been made with
China, which last year bought $22
billion in U.S. agricultural crops and
goods, making it our biggest foreign
customer. But the failure of TPP
allows China to become the leader on
trade across the Pacific.
Agriculture sees some good in
Trump. He’s tossed overwrought and
underthought regulations into the waste
bin. He has also offered hope for an
industry that has struggled against
But until he shows significant
progress on trade, agriculture will be
forced to withhold final judgment on his
For Trump and agriculture, trade is a
The Democrats are right — and were right to settle
he government shutdown was
overwhelmingly the fault of
Republican leaders. They, not
Democrats, are the ones trying to make
sharp changes in federal policy, like reduced
legal immigration and a border wall.
Democrats are largely trying to preserve
programs — children’s
health insurance and
Dreamer protections — that
many Republicans say they,
The Republican Party, of
course, is also the one led
by a president who doesn’t
know enough about policy
to negotiate on his own
behalf. Everyone was able
to see that two weeks ago
during a televised White
House meeting, when other
Republicans had to correct President Donald
Trump — gently and awkwardly — about
what he was supposed to believe. Trump, as
The Washington Post reported this weekend,
is “clearly not understanding the policy
nuances of the negotiation.”
And yet to say that Republicans are
responsible for the shutdown is not the same
as saying that they would suffer most from
a protracted shutdown. I worry that some
progressives are missing that distinction.
The shutdown has created one of the more
treacherous political moments of Trump’s
presidency for Democrats. It’s one they can
navigate, but it requires subtlety.
So far during Trump’s time in office,
principled policy and savvy politics have
generally aligned for Democrats. They
stymied Republican attempts to take
health insurance from millions of people.
Democrats tried to block a huge, permanent
tax cut for the wealthy that came with small,
disappearing tax cuts for everyone else.
Democrats have opposed Trump’s efforts to
let big corporations operate without much
oversight. In each case, it has been both
good policy and good politics.
The shutdown is different, and more
neither deplorable nor irredeemable human
complicated. It’s more complicated because
beings. Steve Bannon, the guru of white
it has turned into a mini-culture war, over
nationalism, understood this dynamic, once
saying, “The Democrats, the longer they talk
A culture war over immigration replays
about identity politics, I got ‘em.”
the racialized debate that dominated the
Similarly, some innovative polling by
2016 presidential campaign. As much as it
YouGov has found that a large portion
saddens me to say it, the evidence is pretty
of white Americans see “prohibiting
clear that a racialized
debate helps Trump. It’s
The smart move now women
the kind of debate that
as one of the Democratic
will make it harder for
for Democrats is to Party’s top priorities.
Democrats to retake the
accept a short-term white Americans who
Senate and House this year.
Multiple studies have
funding bill that ends aren’t
found that the political
Democrats say the same
views of white Americans
the shutdown and issue is one of their own
drift to the right when
diffuses the tension. priorities.
they are reminded that the
worried about their own
country’s population is
struggles, many of which
slowly becoming less white. And many of
are economic. “It’s a political liability
these voters are winnable for Democrats.
for Democrats,” Doug Rivers, YouGov’s
A good number, remember, voted for
chief scientist told me, “in the same way
Barack Obama. They may have some racist
being the party of the rich is a problem for
views — many people do — but they’re
I know that many progressives are sick of
hearing about white voters, but it’s extremely
hard to succeed in American politics without
winning a good portion of them. About 69
percent of eligible voters are non-Hispanic
whites. They have outsize power, too, thanks
to a combination of their turnout rates, their
geographic dispersion, gerrymandering and
the Senate’s small-state bonus.
Briahna Joy Gray wrote a must-read
essay on this topic for New York magazine,
titled, “Racism May Have Gotten Us Into
This Mess, but Identity Politics Can’t Get Us
Out.” Or as Matthew Yglesias wrote in Vox
last week, “If you want to help the people
most severely victimized by Trumpism, you
need to beat Trumpism at the polls.”
The best debate for Democrats is one that
keeps reminding white working-class voters
that they’re working class. It’s a debate
about Medicare, Medicaid, taxes or Wall
Street. The worst debate is one that keeps
reminding those voters that they’re white.
To put it another way, if you’re a
Democrat who’s frustrated that Republicans
have managed to turn the shutdown into a
fight over immigration, ask yourself: Why
would they do that?
Democratic leaders are certainly right to
insist on protection for the Dreamers. The
question is whether the best way to protect
them — and the best way to elect politicians
who will help them in the long term —
involves keeping immigration policy in the
political spotlight for weeks on end.
It was a smart move for Democrats to
accept a short-term funding bill that ends
the shutdown and diffuses the tension.
Republican leaders were open to that
solution because they have their own
vulnerabilities. Their party is the majority
party, often blamed for dysfunction.
That solution feels a bit unsatisfying, I
know. But tactical retreats can lead to big
victories in the future.
David Leonhardt is an op-ed columnist
for The New York Times.
Valentine’s Day is
As we near the end of January
and approach February, I am
reminded that once again we are
coming up on Valentine’s Day.
My husband and I have been
married almost 37 years and I
suppose after this much time we’ve
gotten kind of jaded. We think of
it as a day created by Hallmark,
See’s, and Kay to part lovers from
their money or forever suffer a
guilt trip if we don’t get just the
At this time of year we should
remember that not everyone can
share equally in the joy of showing
their love and affection to that
special person in their lives. They
can’t kiss in public or hold hands
walking down the street without
feeling nervous that someone will
PFLAG Pendleton (Parents,
Family, and Friends of Lesbians
and Gays) is an organization
founded on support, advocacy
and education on behalf of the
LGBTQ Community. If you are
the friend of a gay person, or have
someone in your family, or if you
yourself are gay, we are here to
offer you support and invite you to
offer support in turn. Contact us at
Don’t let this Valentine’s Day
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the
East Oregonian editorial board. Other
columns, letters and cartoons on this page
express the opinions of the authors and
not necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
go by without remembering not
everyone has the luxury of being
Alice Hepburn, treasurer
Mental health services
have long fallen short
The East Oregonian headline
read “GOBHI: Lifeways crisis
services below standards.”
Lifeways: Police chief frustrated
with a lack of mental health
services in the county. Was this
headline June 2006 or maybe June
2015? Nope, it was January 2018.
This lack of mental health services
is unacceptable and has been
ongoing for years. Now GOBHI
says an outside professional may
be hired to oversee the Lifeways
program. I thought Lifeways was
the professional help?
Why not ask the police to
suggest changes? Umatilla County
police and law enforcement officers
support a letter signed by all police
chiefs and the sheriff stating their
continued frustration with the lack
mental health services.
This lack of vision by our local
political leadership and ignoring
requests from law enforcement
reminds me of a story. It involved
a Mexican gentleman named Pedro
along with Al, a border security
guy. Pedro would cross the border
into the United States with a
wheelbarrow filled with sand. Later
in the day Pedro would walk back
into Mexico on his own. Intrigued,
Al tryied to work out what Pedro
was smuggling. He searched the
sand but never found anything in it.
Years later, when they’d both
retired, Al said to Pedro: “I never
quite figured it out. You must
have been smuggling something
but I just couldn’t work out what
it was.” Pedro said, “Yes I was.
Our local political leadership
will never see the wheelbarrow
because all they can see is the sand.
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