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.
While even the main proponents of NAFTA will admit that it is a flawed agreement, targeting it as the root of every problem that has emerged in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada in the last 20 years is misguided -- but reflects the need for more comprehensive economic and social policy collaboration between the two.
The agenda of global finance, carried out via "trade" deals, has diverted attention from the real economic issues -- rising inequality and insecurity for ordinary people, the use of globalization as a battering ram to empower capital and weaken labor, and to prevent government interventions from averting financial speculation and collapse. Amid these real crises of neo-liberalism, enhanced trade has been portrayed as a deux ex machina, which will solve our problems if only we get rid of what's left of the mixed economy. It won't. The proposed deals would only make matters worse. The coming collapse of the quarter-century laissez-faire crusade that began with the 1986 Uruguay round, with its license for global financial speculation, is to be welcomed. If we can kill this diversion once and for all, maybe we can start paying more attention to the real economic issues.