A decade ago, with the United States in the grips of the Great Recession, the American automotive industry -- the backbone of the nation's manufacturing sector -- was on the brink of collapse. It wasn't a popular move, but Barack Obama launched a rescue package to save the auto manufacturers. The price of the bailout: $12 billion.
A decade later, Donald Trump's trade war has taken a severe toll on many American farmers, prompting the Republican administration to launch two bailouts for the agricultural sector. The combined price of the farmers' bailouts: $28 billion.
In fact, research from the American Farm Bureau Federation noted last week that nearly 40% of all farm income in the United States this year will come from federal aid. As Garance Franke-Ruta noted the other day, it's an economic dynamic that, in a rather literal sense, is starting to look like socialism.
It was against this backdrop that Donald Trump headlined a campaign rally in Mississippi on Friday night, where he found all of this worthy of boast. In fact, the president seemed eager to draw a comparison between his record and that of his immediate predecessor.
"I mean think of that: $28 billion.... Not bad, right? Not bad. Do you think Obama would do that? I don't think so."
As a substantive matter, Barack Obama wouldn't have needed to bail out farmers from a trade war because Obama would've known not to launch one. But putting that aside, it's hard not to marvel at the point of Trump's boast: Obama, in the Republican's mind, wouldn't have been eager enough to embrace a socialistic solution.
Indeed, when Obama rescued the American automotive industry, GOP lawmakers were apoplectic, convinced that the Democratic president was waging war on the nation's free-enterprise system. A decade later, we're apparently supposed to believe Obama wasn't hostile enough to the free market?
Stepping back, at the same Mississippi event, Trump referenced Obama by name 14 times -- including a not-so-subtle riff on Trump's belief that "Barack Hussein Obama" was lazy. I've long been fascinated by the Republican's preoccupation with his predecessor, but is it perhaps getting worse?