- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2018

In his first speech of the mid-term election year, President Trump told a farming convention Monday that Democrats would reverse his administration’s achievements on cutting taxes and reducing regulations if they regain control of Congress.

Noting the historic tax cuts for businesses and individuals that were approved last month, Mr. Trump told the American Farm Bureau convention in Nashville, Tennessee, “We cannot let anything happen to that.”

“Every Democrat in the House and every Democrat in the Senate voted against tax cuts for the American farmer and for the American worker,” Mr. Trump said. “If the Democrats ever had the chance, the first thing they would do is get rid of it and raise up your taxes, sometimes by 40, 50, 60 percent higher than you’re paying right now. That will undermine everything that we’ve done. We can’t have that.”

The president said Republicans in Congress “came together and delivered historic relief for our farmers and our middle class.”

It was the first visit by a sitting president to the Farm Bureau convention since 1992, when President George H.W. Bush attended. The president also signed two executive orders aimed at expanding broadband Internet service in rural communities.

The president’s trip was timed with the release of an administration’s task force report outlining initiatives to spur economic growth in rural communities.

Two days after meeting with GOP leaders on their election strategy for the new year, Mr. Trump emphasized to the friendly audience that Democrats would also seek to reverse his actions to cut regulations on farmers and ranchers.

“If the Democrats got their way, they would reinstate every single regulation that we’re cutting, and add many more burdensome rules that don’t do anything but hamstring our economy and burden our people and our farmers,” he said.

He said his administration is helping to restore rural prosperity by cutting taxes and rolling back regulations because “our farmers are the future.”

Mr. Trump said he’s streamlining government restrictions on biotechnology, forestry and use of waterways, “setting free our farmers to innovate, thrive and grow.”

“For years, many of you have endured burdensome fines, inspections, paperwork, and relentless intrusion from an army of regulators at the EPA, the FDA, and countless other federal agencies,” Mr. Trump said. “That is why I am truly proud to report that within our first 11 months, my administration has cancelled or delayed over 1,500 planned regulatory actions or assaults — more than any president in the history of the United States.”

The president also highlighted the impact of the tax-cut legislation for sparing most family farms and small business owners from “the punishment of the deeply unfair estate tax.”

“So you can keep your family farms in the family,” the president said to a standing ovation. “That was a tough one to get.”

He joked with the crowd, “Obviously you love your families, otherwise you wouldn’t be standing for that one.” Then, apparently pointing to someone in the crowd, he said, “Not gonna help you much, but it’s gonna help them a lot.”

Several Republican lawmakers accompanied Mr. Trump on Air Force One from Washington for the trip, including retiring Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has clashed bitterly with the president in recent months.

From Nashville, Mr. Trump traveled to Atlanta to watch the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs face off Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

ESPN, which televised the game, said Sunday that it appeared unlikely Mr. Trump would be interviewed during the game. Stephanie Druley, ESPN senior vice president for events and studio programs, said the network had been in contact with the White House and she did not “get the sense” that an interview would be arranged.

Mr. Trump criticized ESPN in October in response to “SportsCenter” host Jemelle Hill tweeting that the president was a “white supremacist.”

A network often seeks an interview with the president when he attends a game it’s televising.

This story is based in part on Associated Press dispatches.

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