President Donald Trump and Republicans received really bad trade news on Wednesday when the Commerce Department revealed that the trade deficit in our country is at a record high despite the global trade wars Trump started to lower it.
The trade deficit has been a point of obsession for Trump, who has used it to accuse our own allies of taking advantage of us and to justify slapping tariffs against several nations including Canada, Mexico, China, Turkey, and the European Union, thus sparking trade wars that have hurt American manufacturing and agriculture.
Trump even boasted about how his tariffs would supposedly “make America rich again.”
….I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2018
Well, that didn’t happen.
What did happen is that the trade deficit reached a ten-year high and has actually swelled to a record high.
According to the Washington Post:
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that — despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies — the United States last year posted a $891.2 billion merchandise trade deficit, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history.
The trade gap with China also hit a record $419 billion, underscoring the stakes for the president’s bid to reach a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping as soon as this month.
The department’s final 2018 trade report, which was delayed by the partial government shutdown, showed that the United States bought far more in foreign goods than it sold to customers in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. The shortfall topped the 2006 record of $838.3 billion, set as the housing bubble was peaking, and marked the third consecutive year of rising deficits.
This is a devastating report for Trump that proves his trade wars have been ineffective and may have actually had the opposite effect as American farmers lose billions of dollars due to China refusing to buy American soybeans and other agricultural products.
Even American manufacturers that rely on steel and aluminum to make their products are struggling, so much so that they are considering moving production overseas, which is costing Americans their jobs. Some companies such as Harley Davidson have already closed plants because of high production costs.
And Trump can’t exactly cry “fake news” either because even the Wall Street Journal is reporting on the same report, which comes from Trump’s own Commerce Department.
U.S. registers the largest trade deficit in goods in its history, growing by 10% to $891.25 billion in 2018 https://t.co/ZdaAuk2C5n
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) March 6, 2019
Trump now faces the prospect of trying to explain his failure to the American people, who will see this as yet another major campaign promise he broke that affects them directly. And Republicans will have to explain why they didn’t stop Trump from starting these disastrous trade wars in the first place when they have the power to do so.
In the end, Trump’s trade wars were all for nothing, and only put us in a deeper hole.
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