Senator James Lankford (R-OK), a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, warned on Wednesday that the president’s trade war with China is already having a damaging effect on both the manufacturing and agricultural sectors in his home state. And the president’s failure to get a deal, he said, “does have a definite destabilizing effect.”
Lankford, who calls himself a “faithful, conservative leader,” was asked on MSNBC about Trump’s unilateral decision to slap tariffs on products made in China and China’s retaliatory tariffs on American goods.
While he acknowledged that many Oklahomans want a deal and that Trump’s posturing could bring people to the table, Lankford said the escalation has already caused great harm to his state’s population and economy.
“Right now what we’re experiencing is retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products. It is harder to get ag products in. We see the tariffs that have been imposed — called the 301 tariffs. You’ll hear those kicked around all the time. These 301 tariffs are directly hurting some Oklahoma companies,” he said.
“We’ve got a company in Oklahoma, for instance, that produces L.E.D. lighting products. They do the design, the engineering, the sales, intellectual property patents. All those things are in Oklahoma,” the Republican senator explained. “But they do manufacturing in China. And then they’re delivered to Home Depot, and Lowes, and Walmart, and all those places. You’ve seen a lot of their products.
“That company has paid millions in tariffs the last year and they’re scheduled to pay millions more. It is not a Chinese company paying that; it’s an American company. And ultimately that will cause a rise in prices for a lot of these products for the consumers. So it directly hurts American companies.”
Lankford also explained that Trump’s trade war is having a “destabilizing effect” for Oklahoma farmers.
“The Chinese started purchasing a large amount of soybeans,” he recalled, then “turned that off” when the negotiations went sour.
“Then it becomes cotton, or then it becomes beef, or then it becomes corn [that China stops buying]. It kinda alternates around. But it does have a definite destabilizing effect, because as you know, farmers can’t just switch crops on a dime. They’ve got to actually plan in advance what they’re going to do,” he added.
“When the Chinese move around, what their different retaliatory tariffs will be, it has a real effect,” Lankford concluded.
On Tuesday, the Senate’s president pro tempore, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), said that he is not sure Trump grasps what is stake as he appears to be unable to understand in-person conversations about the damaging effects of tariffs on his own base.
“I’m not sure if you talk to him face-to-face he hears everything you say,” the seventh-term Republican observed.