This might be the only time you read this sentence in The Omaha World-Herald: Democratic congressional candidate Kara Eastman agrees with Republican President Donald Trump.
In fact, Eastman is closer to Trump than the Republican incumbent, Don Bacon, on the issue of trade.
While neither Eastman nor Bacon is a fan of Trump’s tariffs, Bacon would like to see the country move toward more free trade, while Eastman favors some limits that she says protect American workers.
The reality is that Trump is bucking his own party with his anti-free-trade policies. Trump signaled during his campaign that he would fix what he calls unfair tactics used by trading partners. Current deals, he says, hurt American workers and threaten U.S. national security.
Bacon’s promotion of free trade, particularly in Nebraska, where it benefits farmers, is more in line with traditional Republican views .
And Eastman’s focus on fair trade and protections for workers is more in line with what traditionally have been Democratic trade principles.
Both candidates think that Congress has ceded too much control of trade issues to the executive branch, and they would like to see Congress gain more authority.
In Nebraska, agriculture has been hit hard by an escalating trade dispute prompted by Trump’s tariffs on a variety of products, and other countries retaliating by raising tariffs on American goods and products. The president plans to spend $12 billion in aid for farmers while the government sorts out these trade disputes.
Both Eastman and Bacon say that they’re not happy with the tariffs but that they share Trump’s concerns about what he describes as China’s intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices.
Here’s how each candidate wants to see the United States handle various trade issues.
What is your philosophy on trade?
Bacon: “I do believe in free trade, but it’s not fair if someone has tariffs on us or barriers we don’t have. I think it’s important to give our producers and exporters a fair shot.”
Eastman: “When it comes to trade we have to be putting American workers first and make sure we’re being incredibly considerate of the environment. ... Fair trade means that we are taking into consideration the people that are impacted. That’s not just Americans. Our fair trade deals have to make sure we’re not doing harm.”
How do you think President Trump is doing on trade?
Bacon: “The trade area is the one area that — I can’t say I’m totally out of sync, but I’m not in sync” with Trump.
Eastman: “This is probably one of the areas where I somewhat agree with the president. I think those trade deals were not necessarily in the best interest of Nebraskans all the time.”
What do you think about Trump’s tariffs policy?
Bacon: “Doing tariffs really makes agriculture the most vulnerable because that’s our trade advantage.” Bacon says if tariffs are imposed, the U.S. should “Do it one at a time. Why take on the whole world?”
Eastman: “The tariffs are not moving in the right direction and the trade war is not good for our farmers. ... This is taking an unacceptable toll on Nebraskans.”
Is the president’s proposal to give $12 billion to farmers a good fix?
Bacon: “I would rather get the NAFTA trade deal. ... I would say he has correctly identified the problem, but I think the remedy is off the target.”
Eastman: “That’s not what our farmers and our pork producers want. That’s not solving the problems that the administration created itself.”
Would you have wanted the U.S. to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership? (Trump pulled the U.S. out of the trade deal.)
Bacon: “I generally liked it because I wanted to expand, give our agriculture a chance to compete in the Pacific on a fair, level playing field. The one downside of it was that it was so complicated. It needed to be simpler for the average person.”
Eastman: No. “I think these trade deals need to be renegotiated.”