It was widely reported in the media yesterday (as in this above-linked CNBC article), that President Obama, during a visit to India, the first stop on his 10-day tour of Asia, has reached a deal with India worth $10 billion in U.S. exports and 54,000 jobs for American workers. It seems that India has agreed to buy ten C-17 cargo planes.
My biggest concern is what the president may have conceded to win that agreement. This trip by Obama is only the latest in a decades-long string of countless trade junkets by American officials designed to “open new markets” to American goods. The result has been a cumulative trade deficit of $10 trillion that has bankrupted our country. The problem is that such negotiations always begin with a demand that the U.S. first eliminate subsidies and cut tariffs. Only then do we get some vague assurance of buying U.S. products. The U.S. then eagerly goes to work cutting subsidies and tariffs, opening the door to a tidal wave of imports, and the administration moves on to other matters, never bothering to follow through and check that the other party kept their side of the bargain. That deal is then added to the long list of others that the next president promises to “enforce” in order to halt the rise in the trade deficit and the loss of jobs to foreign manufacturers.
Secondly, one has to wonder whether India had already planned to purchase these planes anyway. Even if this is a new commitment to purchase American goods, India is a nation with one sixth of the world’s population, and all the president can scrounge out of them is 54,000 jobs?!?!? At this rate, the very best we can hope for is that he’ll return from this 10-day trip with about 300,000 new jobs for Americans. But 18 million Americans are out of work!
Mr. President, with all due respect, if you’re really interested in cutting the trade deficit and restoring manufacturing jobs, quit wasting your time. Get your ass back home, sit down at your desk in the west-wing office, and start re-writing trade policy that imposes tariffs and limits imports, forcing manufacturers to make the products we use right here in the U.S. Send the World Trade Organization a letter, canceling our membership. If somebody wants to sell us something, fine, but no more than they’re willing to buy from us. How about that as the starting point for trade negotiations?
It’s time for the U.S. to end its role as village idiot in the global trade community.