When President Obama defeated challenger John McCain in November, 2008, his victory was due in no small part to his promise to rewrite trade deals and bring American manufacturing jobs back home. Soon after taking office, he traveled to Mexico to discuss our bloated trade deficit with that nation and was sent home with a spanking – nothing to show for it except new Mexican tariffs on American exports (to which he has yet to respond). Trade delegations to China got the same treatment.
In January, 2010, lacking the backbone needed to take meaningful action with parasitic exporters, he decided to take a different tack, promising to double American exports within five years. When he made that promise, our monthly trade deficit was $37.1 billion. As annouced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis yesterday, our trade deficit in April was $40.3 billion. In January of 2010, our monthly deficit in manufactured goods was $28.6 billion. In April it was $39.3 billion.
When he made the promise in January, 2010 to increase exports by 100% in five years, our total exports were $143.7 billion. By April, with 67% of those five years behind us, total exports have risen by only 30% to $187.4 billion. Total exports now lag the rate needed to meet the president’s goal by $38 billion per month. Manufactured exports have also risen only 30%, and haven’t risen at all in the last 13 months.
Meanwhile, total imports and manufactured imports have risen just as fast, wiping out any gains from the growth in exports.
By any measure, the plan to rebalance trade by doubling exports is an abysmal failure. Yet, the president does nothing. He has settled into his role as yet another caretaker president, satisfied with the status quo. I’m sure that, if one were to question the president about the reasons for this failure, he would no doubt cite the slow-down in the global economy. Which only proves the point that I made when the president set this goal – that neither he nor anyone else in the U.S. has any control whatsoever over exports, which are driven solely by consumer demand in foreign countries. But, though he has the ability to exercise total control over imports, he sits on his hands.
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The following are updates to the charts of trade data that I’ve been tracking since the president set his doomed-to-failure goal of doubling exports in five years: