Commerce

Who Killed the Middle Class?

February 19, 2013

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Who Killed the Middle Class?

“It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth—a rising, thriving middle class.”

So said Barack Obama in his State of the Union.

And for one of his ideas to reignite that engine, Republicans applauded.

“And tonight, I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union—because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”

One wonders if any of those in the hall who rose robotically at the phrase “free and fair” were aware of the trade results just in from 2012.

What were the 2012 figures for the European Union?

U.S. exports to Europe fell, imports from Europe rose, and our trade deficit with the EU shot up 16 percent to $116 billion.

“Every nation seems to understand what our baby boomers were never taught.”

We ran a trade deficit with Italy of $20 billion, with Ireland of $25 billion, with Germany of $60 billion. The Europeans are eating our lunch.

What about South Korea, the country with whom we signed a free-trade deal in 2012?

U.S. exports to Korea fell last year, and due to a surge in imports our trade deficit in goods with South Korea soared 25 percent to $16.6 billion.

Seoul’s trade minister who cut that deal and cleaned our clock should get a medal and the kind of bonus Americans reserve for people like hedge fund managers and the folks who ran Fannie and Freddie.

And Japan? Last year, Nippon ran a $76 billion trade surplus with the United States, second largest of any country.

But that is insufficient for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has bullied the Bank of Japan to drive down the yen 20 percent against the dollar in three months—to increase exports to America and cut imports.

Look for the U.S. trade deficit with Tokyo to explode.

What about that NAFTA treaty the establishments of both parties heralded in the Clinton era? How has that worked out for Uncle Sam?

Last year, the United States ran a trade deficit of $32 billion with Canada and twice that, $61 billion, with Mexico.

What was America’s overall trade position in 2012?

We ran a global trade deficit in goods of $736 billion. That is 5 percent of the U.S. economy. We are hemorrhaging jobs, factories, wealth.


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