On the Horse Being Out of the Barn

For those of you who haven't seen the news, the U.S. trade deficit has hit another all-time high and will set an even bigger record by the end of the year. According to an article in The Washington Post:

The Commerce Department reported Monday that the current account trade deficit increased 3.9 percent to a record $225.6 billion in the July-September quarter. That represented 6.8 percent of the total economy, up from 6.6 percent of the gross domestic product in the spring quarter.

The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it tracks not only the flow of goods and services across borders but also investment flows. The figure is closely watched by economists because it represents the amount of money that must be borrowed from foreigners to make up the difference between what America imports and what it sells overseas.

Please follow below the fold...

Oh, but don't worry kids. The news isn't all glum. The deficit is predicted to shrink to $816 billion by the end of next year. Pull out the party hats and streamers. I feel another announcement of success coming from the White House.

One obvious reason for the surging trade deficit has been the increase in oil prices over the summer. Let's not let the Republican leadership off that easy though. We know what helped kick-start the trade deficit and we can spell it out in two words.

Trade legislation.

Unfair trade legislation to be exact. The global marketeers like to call them free trade agreements, but we know they are anything but free. They have cost American workers their jobs, retirement plans, healthcare coverage and their secure futures. These luxuries have been replaced with jobs at Walmart, no retirement, no healthcare and very little hope for security.

In some areas of the country we are seeing industries decimated and an entire way of life wiped out.

I understand that American businesses want to eake out every cent of profit they can by taking advantage of workers in foreign countries who can live on pennies a day. Who cares if the conditions are deplorable, the hours are long and the average worker is barely weened from his mother's breast? American companies are raking in profits hand over fist! That has to count for something, right?

Back on the subject of horses and barns.

I realize that there were Democrats who supported this unfair trade legislation in the past and some voted recently for the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA). There are members of both parties who truly believe that it is the best way forward for American business and ultimately American workers.

Then there is another group. Let's call them opportunists. This is the group of people who don't think free trade agreements are good, who know these agreements would negatively impact the voters in their districts but who vote for them because they don't have the backbone to stand up for their constituents. They cave under the pressure of their party instead of standing firm. I know two members of this very exclusive club.

Robin Hayes and Mark Foley.

Yes, Robin Hayes voted for one of the biggest offenders in the free trade bag of tricks, CAFTA. Foley not only voted for it, he was the Majority Whip in charge of lining up the votes. It wasn't Foley, however, who had weeks before toodled around his district assuring textile workers he would vote against CAFTA. It wasn't Foley, who made a last minute, behind-closed-doors decision that wound up sweeping the rug out from under the lives of many of his constituents. It was Robin Hayes.

Funny, now Hayes stands up against free trade agreements. They're bad for his district donchaknow? They're bad for the American economy too. To this flip-flop-flip of Robin Hayes' on trade agreements I have only one thing to say.

That horse has left the barn, Robin, and you won't ever catch it.

Don't think you will fool anyone with your latest flip on free trade. I'm sure you worked extra hard to convince your fellow CAFTA brethren to stand up for American workers. Then again, since the Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA) passed, I guess you don't twist arms quite as effectively as Dennis Hastert.

I realize Robin Hayes and his CAFTA vote aren't completely to blame for our record-breaking deficit. I'll even admit to using this piece on the trade deficit to bring up CAFTA and Robin Hayes' promise to vote against it. I'll go ahead and warn you to get used to it, because I will be bringing it up every chance I get.

I would love to place the burden of the trade deficit squarely on Robin Hayes' shoulders, but that wouldn't be fair. I will settle for equally distributing it on the shoulders of all the Republicans in washington. They own it. Now we get to do something about it.



I could see a person taking a principled stand for something they believe in and voting their conscience. But to see that person, I'd have to look somewhere besides the office of Robing Hayes.

Glad to see you writin'. Sorry your slaptop got busted and you're sick as a dog. At least it hasn't dulled your wonderful edge!


The deficit isn't over 800 billion unless you include "Emergency Spending Bills" like those that pay for the War in Iraq, and the War in Afghanistan, and Hurricanes, and electricity for military bases. It isn't fair to add those "Emergency" costs on, I mean who knows how many decades we could go without a Hurricane hitting the US!!!

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Don't blame me

I didn't come up with the way to calculate the deficit....I just report the news that others have already reported. ;)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Trade deficit,

not the budget deficit. The OTHER hole we are digging ourselves into by shifting our factories to China and our IT work to India...

fine, ruin my joke!!!

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

What joke?

: )

Just jokin'.

Thanks for Your Thoughts

I understand your unhappiness with trade agreements. They were originally sold to the American people as a long term economic good that would have the downside of some short term economic dislocation.

The dislocation was both deeper and longer term than advertised.

Early on the experts advised patience. We were told that there was a hump to get over before the advantages would become obvious and we'd all be better off. However, more recently the arguments have been more like "the horse is already out of the barn. The good days are gone, so get used to it."

These experts had fancy theories with all sorts of equations that obliged them to think all would be well. But it seems that the theories were wrong. That's the problem with theories, they're fun to dream up, but when applied to the lives of others they can often have the most unpleasant consequences. And then who do you go to when the horse is out of the barn?

I'm 56 years old. I moved to North Carolina five years ago. The previous twenty-five years I spent as a resident of Chicago's north shore and before that Wisconsin, Utah and California. I live in Moore County. My Congressman is Howard Coble, my State Sen

True, George

I really am not opposed to profits...not at all. I'll leave that at that. This was a rant, so I didn't offer that much information. I plan to do that with some future posts.

I think my frustration remains high because I know there is no quick fix. We can't wave a magic wand and bring these jobs back. We can't "fix" these communities that have seen large portions of their tax base leave town. It's sad.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

The magic wand

is new tax policy that will encourage American companies to keep their jobs here instead of encouraging shipping them overseas. And a tax policy that will hit executives hard for excessive salaries. And clear rules that will expose excessive compensation for executives. And universal health care paid for by all employers - Wal-Mart and McDonalds have to pay their way. And executives with some common sense.

The sad thing is, outsourcing isn't making American companies better. Kodak has outsourced film and camera manufacturing to China, IT work to India, accounting work to India, Poland, and Ireland, and call centers to Argentina and the Phillipines. Guess what? Kodak continues to lose market share and lose money like crazy. Outsourcing costs American jobs, but won't necessarily save American companies.

No quick fix

Too many tax incentives as it is and they still take the jobs to other countries. You know...the tax incentives that are part of the "free" market economy. Something else that isn't exactly free.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

i think

that he means no more incentives. specifically, no incentives for companies to leave and no more incentives for companies to merge.

use taxes as a big stick to punish companies that screw over american workers. why should I foot their bills?


"Keep the Faith"

Maybe it's too late

to fix it, but I think trade agreements should at least contain provisions that require the same kind of worker health and safety provisions and the same kind of environmental protections that businesses have to provide in this country. And they should have to pay a living wage -- not necessarily equal in dollars to the minimum wage here, but enough for people to live on where they live. Does that make sense? Businesses should not be able to abdicate their responsibility to humankind, here or in other countries. I do think a big chunk of their "savings" from outsourcing comes from abdicating those responsibilities.

fair vs free

you are advocating that we hold other countries to the highest common denominator instead of the lowest. doesnt seem like that bad of an idea to me, and i think most americans agree.


"Keep the Faith"