WASHINGTON - February 10 - America’s gargantuan trade deficit is a weight around American workers’ necks that is pulling them into a cycle of debt, bankruptcy and low-wage service jobs as America’s wealthy and CEOs keep flying high - - and it’s only getting worse. Today, the 2005 annual trade deficit came in at an astronomical $725.8 billion, up more than 15% since last year’s record-breaker. This trade deficit is unsustainable - - we cannot sit back as other nations produce the world’s goods and we continue to lose family-supporting, middle class jobs.
America’s workers are reeling from stagnant wages, attacks on their health and pension benefits, and the loss of almost 3 million manufacturing jobs and hundreds of thousands of outsourced white-collar jobs over the last five years. Yet the Bush Administration doesn’t have a plan to reverse this devastating trend and the policies that feed it.
Such a huge trade gap undercuts domestic manufacturing and destroys good U.S. jobs. Our trade deficit with China, the largest with any country, swelled to an all-time high of more than $200 billion. And, China continues to intervene in currency markets to make sure the yuan stays right where it is—about 40 percent undervalued compared to the dollar. Meanwhile, poorly conceived trade deals like NAFTA and its progeny have accelerated the steady stream of good American jobs being shipped overseas.
The bottom line is that our nation’s dismal trade policies are leading us on a dangerous and unsustainable path, one that encourages and rewards irresponsible corporate behavior, while leaving workers, family farmers, domestic producers, and entire middle class communities behind.
Now, more than ever, we need an urgent and aggressive policy response, starting with trade, tax and currency policies that will allow American businesses and workers to compete and survive in the global economy. Congress can start by giving serious consideration to invoking the WTO’s import surcharge emergency provision to help bring our trade deficit under control. The second step is for Congress to reject the flawed trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA. These deals reflect precisely the wrong model for trade: excessive protection of corporate rights and a flimsy fig leaf for workers, farmers and the environment. The Bush administration and Congress must stop giving tax and financial incentives to corporations to ship jobs offshore. Finally, we must take action on currency manipulation by China, Japan and other nations.
How many more jobs and industries must we lose before this Administration wakes up and gets our economy off this devastating path?