Two Bad Economic Reports Share A Link To One Bad Trade Policy

Dave Johnson

On Thursday the Department of Commerce’s July trade figures were released. Our enormous, humongous trade deficit continued another month and we even had an all-time record trade deficit with China.

Today the jobs report came out and America’s manufacturing sector did not add any jobs in August. The Department of Labor reported, “Manufacturing employment was unchanged in August.”

Thursday, bad trade numbers. Friday. bad manufacturing job numbers. Is it possible there is a connection?

This economic failure is happening because of our terrible, one-sided “free trade” deals and tax policies that reward companies for shipping jobs, factories, call centers and profit centers out of the country and everyone knows it. Our country lost more than 50,000 factories and 5 million jobs to China in the decade of the 2000s and people know it.

Polling Shows Campaign Path

People are not feeling or believing that there is good economic news. Even with the longest period of private sector job growth in our history, most people still believe that the country is still in a recession. This is because the so-called “recovery” is only benefiting the very wealthy. Almost all income gains are going to a few at the top of the economic ladder.

An August 5 Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that “76 percent of adults lack confidence that their children’s generation will have a better life than they do—an all-time high. Some 71 percent of adults think the country is on the wrong track.”

A September George Washington University Battleground Poll finds that “the economy is the top issue driving those likeliest to vote to cast ballots this fall.” Voters blame Democrats: “Likely voters feel Republicans could do a better job addressing economic concerns than Democrats, by 49-42 percent.” As a result, “in states with a competitive Senate race, Republicans lead 52 to 36 percent on the generic ballot question.”

But people get it that it is because of the trade agreements that outsource jobs. From February’s post, Poll: Voters Blame Trade Agreements For Job Losses:

The public gets it that one-sided trade agreements are shipping jobs out of the country – and they want our government to do something about it.

A new Gallup poll shows that jobs and unemployment has risen to the No. 1 spot on the country’s “most important problem” list. At the same time another poll, this one of likely voters, confirms this and drills down to find that voters overwhelmingly see unfair trade agreements and outsourcing as a main cause of our job problem.

Among that February poll’s findings:

  • 65 percent of voters consider outsourcing as the reason for a lack of new manufacturing jobs (70 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 65 percent of Republicans). Only 28 percent of voters cite a potential shortage of skilled workers for the lack of new manufacturing jobs in the U.S., and only 25 percent say it is too expensive to manufacture in America.
  • 60 percent of voters say the U.S. needs to “get tough” with countries like China (58 percent of Democrats and independents, 64 percent of Republicans).
  • 79 percent of voters blame trade agreements and unfair trade, and want enforcement, including 76-77 percent of GOP voters.
  • 84 percent of voters support a national manufacturing strategy to “make sure that economic, tax, education and trade policies in this country work together to help support manufacturing.” This includes 87 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of independents, and 82 percent of Republicans.
  • 80 percent of voters want strong “Buy American” policies in government spending, with 67 percent “strongly in favor.”

This number from the poll shows the path to take in this election, and it is not too late. Seventy-nine percent of voters blame trade agreements and unfair trade, and want enforcement, including 76-77 percent of GOP voters.

Here is someone who understood that, campaigning in manufacturing states in 2008. He won.

Democrats should be advocating a different trade policy. We need to renegotiate NAFTA and completely reevaluate our trade with China. Voters will reward the party that says so.

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