You may have heard, by this point, that the stock market is super-duper important and sure evidence of Donald Trump’s greatness, unless it goes down in which case shut up. You may have heard that budget deficits are very bad things and a sign of presidential failure, unless Donald Trump’s party blows a trillion-dollar hole through that budget, in which case (say it with me) also shut up. You may have heard that the Syrian government would never dare use chemical weapons on its own people, when the idiot manchild was in charge; you may have heard that terrorists would be too afraid of idiot manchild’s stern public speeches to dare continue terrorizing. You may have heard a lot of things, in fact.
One of the other things Donald Trump insisted was the end of America, during his campaign of Repeating Things Fox News Told Me, was the trade deficit. He has spent a great deal of toilet time rage-tweeting about this, in fact.
Hillary Clinton surged the trade deficit with China 40% as
Secretary of State, costing Americans millions of jobs.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2016
I presume you can guess the punchline here.
The U.S. trade deficit increased more than 12 percent in 2017, to $566 billion — its highest level since 2008, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Commerce Department.
The trade deficit with China rose to a record $375 billion in 2017, and trade gaps with Mexico, Canada and Japan also increased.
Yes, he was bullshitting the whole time. The trade deficit is a function of the national and world economy; it is not necessarily catastrophic or even bad to begin with; it is not something that an idiot manchild can switch on or off—unless the idiot manchild bars trade entirely, which he has vaguely threatened from time to time.
Trade deficits tend to rise when times are good because businesses and consumers have more money to spend. Some of that spending is on goods and services produced in the United States and some is on goods and services from overseas. The last big drop was in 2009, when the United States plunged into the Great Recession and both imports and exports fell sharply.
But for the record, not only has Trump not “solved” the problem, he has not so much as tried, and you can even make a solid case that he made it worse.
The only practical short-term effect of this will be that Donald Trump will no longer be tweeting about it, which means he either will have to promise something else to the rubes (say, the bestest military parade ever) or spend that time, you know, doing his actual day job.