The ongoing trade deficit has transferred trillions of dollars out of our economy. It has cost us millions of jobs, tens of thousands of factories and entire industries. As it continues, it is costing us our ability to make a living as a country -- except for our financial sector. This has made a very few people unimaginably wealthy, but it has made the rest of us, and the country, poorer.
The trade deficit is a direct measure of jobs leaving the country. The trade deficit is American dollars going to other countries so people there can spend them. The trade deficit is our standard of living leaking away. And the trade deficit is a major factor driving what remains of the budget deficit.
When Obama announced plans to curtail the use of coal over the next 15 years, news outlets rushed to do pieces on the prospective loss of jobs in coal-mining areas. While it is good to see the media paying attention to this job loss and its implications for families and communities, this concern is a striking departure from normal practice.
President Obama has said that he intends to use his presidential power to do what he can to improve the economy and lay the groundwork for future change. While there are limits as to what Obama can based on executive authority alone, there are many areas where he can have an impact. He already identified one area in his State of the Union Address, when he announced that new federal contracts would require that workers be paid a higher minimum wage. This sort of action can be carried much further. Of course, negotiations mean that we are prepared to give up something. That seems like a small price to pay for the millions of jobs that could be created.