Remember when Trump said he’d fix the trade deficit? It just rose again.

Ryan Koronowski

Ryan Koronowski Research Director, ThinkProgress

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised “brilliant trade” policies that would drop the national trade deficit “like you’ve never seen before.”

Two years after he was elected, despite his singular focus on trade, America is importing more goods, while exporting less, than it ever has.

The federal government announced Thursday that America’s trade deficit hit $55.5 billion in October, rising almost a billion dollars from September. This is a ten-year high.

Rising imports for goods were the main driver. America’s global seasonally-adjusted trade deficit in goods hit $76.9 billion in October, the highest it’s ever been. It was $66.5 billion in January 2017. The trade surplus in services decreased by $0.1 billion from September to October, to $22.6 billion, which, combined with the deficit in goods, brings the total trade deficit to $55.5 billion.

These are not the numbers Trump had in mind when he was interviewing for the job.

Candidate Trump promised a massive drop in the nation’s trade deficit. “The trade deficit was only $84 billion when Bill Clinton was first inaugurated. So, we’ve taken from $84 billion, which is a lot of money, to now $800 billion,” he told a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire in June 2016. “And going up, going fast unless I become president. You will see a drop like you’ve never seen before. You have never seen before.”

He promised he would negotiate, “fair trade, smart trade, I even like to say brilliant trade.”

China is America’s biggest trading partner. America’s trade deficit with China hit $43.1 billion in October, which is far higher than it’s ever been. The first time that number hit $40 billion was in September. Trump identified trade with China as the biggest priority for his trade policy during the campaign and as president. He promised he could shrink the trade deficit with China.

“In China, think of this, we have a trade imbalance of almost $400 billion a year,” Trump told a crowd in 2015. “Can you imagine if we could straighten it out? Could you imagine if I could get that down to, and I promise I’ll do better than this, but could you imagine if I could get it down to $100 billion a year in losses?”

In 2016, America’s trade deficit with China was $347 billion; in 2017, it was $376 billion. Through the first ten months of 2018, it was $344.5 billion — each month so far this year the trade deficit has been hundreds of millions or billions higher than it was.

The stock market, which has risen since Trump was elected, has not been reacting well to the drama surrounding the president’s supposed trade deal with China. The Dow and S&P 500 are having their worst quarter in seven years, and have eliminated all gains from the year.


Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder