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The Bankruptcy of U.S. Trade and Foreign Policy

In the first quarter of 2015, in the sixth year of the historic Obama recovery, the U.S. economy grew by two-tenths of 1 percent.And that probably sugarcoats it.

For trade deficits subtract from the growth of GDP, and the U.S. trade deficit that just came in was a monster. As the AP’s Martin Crutsinger writes, “The U.S. trade deficit in March swelled to the highest level in more than six years, propelled by a flood of imports that may have sapped the U.S. economy of any growth in the first quarter.”

The March deficit was $51.2 billion, largest of any month since 2008. In goods alone, the trade deficit hit $64 billion. As Crutsinger writes, a surge in imports to $239 billion in March, “reflected greater shipments of foreign-made industrial machinery, autos, mobile phones, clothing and furniture.”

What does this flood of imports of things we once made here mean for a city like, say, Baltimore? Writes columnist Allan Brownfeld:

Baltimore was once a city where tens of thousands of blue collar employees earned a good living in industries building cars, airplanes and making steel. … In 1970, about a third of the labor force in Baltimore was employed in manufacturing. By 2000, only 7 percent of city residents had manufacturing jobs.

Put down blue-collar Baltimore alongside Motor City, Detroit, as another fatality of free-trade fanaticism. For as imports substitute for U.S. production and kill U.S. jobs, trade deficits reduce a nation’s GDP. And since Bill Clinton took office, the U.S. trade deficits have totaled $11.2 trillion. An astronomical figure.

It translates not only into millions of manufacturing jobs lost and tens of thousands of factories closed, but also millions of manufacturing jobs that were never created, and tens of thousands of factories that did not open here, but did open in Mexico, China, and other Asian countries.

In importing all those trillions in foreign-made goods, we exported the future of America’s young. Our political and corporate elites sold out working- and middle-class America—to enrich the monied class. And they sure succeeded.

Yet, remarkably, Republicans who wail over Obama’s budget deficits ignore the more ruinous trade deficits that leech away the industrial base upon which America’s self-reliance and military might have always depended.

Last month, the U.S. trade deficit with the People’s Republic of China reached $31.2 billion, the largest in history between two nations. Over 25 years, China has amassed $4 trillion in trade surpluses at our expense. And where are the Republicans? Talking tough about building new fleets of planes and ships and carriers to defend Asia from the rising threat of China, which those same Republicans did more than anyone else to create.

Now this GOP Congress is preparing to vote for “fast track” and surrender its right to amend any Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Obama brings home. But consider that TPP. While the propaganda is all about a deal to cover 40 percent of world trade, what are we really talking about?

First, TPP will cover 37 percent of world trade. But 80 percent of that is trade between the U.S. and nations with which we already have trade deals. As for the last 20 percent, our new partners will be New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Japan. Query: Who benefits more if we get access to Vietnam’s market, which is 1 percent of ours, while Hanoi gets access to a U.S. market that is 100 times the size of theirs?

The core of the TPP is the deal with Japan.

But do decades of Japanese trade surpluses at our expense, achieved through the manipulation of Japan’s currency and hidden restrictions on U.S. imports, justify a Congressional surrender to Barack Obama of all rights to amend any Japan deal he produces? Columnist Robert Samuelson writes that a TPP failure “could produce a historic watershed. … rejection could mean the end of an era. … So, when opponents criticize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they need to answer a simple question: Compared to what?”

Valid points, and a fair question.

And yes, an era is ending, a post-Cold War era where the United States threw open her markets to nations all over the world, as they sheltered their own. The end of an era where America volunteered to defend nations and fight wars having nothing to do with her own vital interests or national security.

The bankruptcy of a U.S. trade and foreign policy, which has led to the transparent decline of the United States and the astonishing rise of China, is apparent now virtually everywhere.

And America is not immune to the rising tide of nationalism.

Though, like the alcoholic who does not realize his condition until he is lying face down in the gutter, it may be a while before we get out of the empire business and start looking out again, as our fathers did, for the American republic first. But that day is coming.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. [1] Copyright 2015 Creators.com.

21 Comments (Open | Close)

21 Comments To "The Bankruptcy of U.S. Trade and Foreign Policy"

#1 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 8, 2015 @ 1:11 am

“And yes, an era is ending, a post-Cold War era where the United States threw open her markets to nations all over the world, as they sheltered their own.”

I deeply regret my support for NAFTA. Taking note of our failure to reach the required 3% to spur growth.

And coming to realize te above reference, that almost all other nations protect themselves from free flowing markets and their reprecussions —

I deeply regret it.

#2 Comment By Comin’ Round the Bend On May 8, 2015 @ 1:19 am

” looking out again, as our fathers did, for the American republic first. But that day is coming.”

It is indeed, Pat. And God speed the day!

#3 Comment By libertarian jerry On May 8, 2015 @ 1:47 am

It seems to me that somewhere there is a small group of rich and powerful megalomaniac men who want to dominate the world with a one world government with them in charge. That one of the main obstacles to this world domination dream was America,its Constitution,its independence,its large Middle Class and its Economic Power. All of these attributes of America had to be gradually,over time,eviscerated to the point that,at least economically,America would be come a shell of its former self. This rich man’s cabal of a plan to eliminate America as a barrier to their one world dream has worked beyond all expectations. By and large the important American politicians,judges and bureaucrats are in the pockets of this cabal,bought and paid for. The private information held by this cabal on the lives of political figures must be extensive in order to apply leverage to control them. This powerful cabal,to a large extent,controls the Main Stream Media,Academia,the money system,the stock and commodity markets and the banks. Their goal is a one world government and in order to achieve this goal they had to bring down America. Thus,at least since the Clinton administration,America’s sovereignty,trade balance advantages and economic health have purposely,deliberately and treasonably been destroyed to turn America into a third world nation and thus be easily molded into the New World Order of a one world government. This scenario is not a “tinfoil hat” pipe dream but the truth. The evidence is in plain sight if one just looks for it.

#4 Comment By Junior On May 8, 2015 @ 5:41 am

“In the first quarter of 2015, in the sixth year of the historic Obama recovery, the U.S. economy grew by two-tenths of 1 percent.And that probably sugarcoats it.”

GREAT opening and article Mr. Buchanan! Now I maaaay be going out on a limb here, but has anyone ever suggested to you that you might make a good speech writer? I think it’s something you might want to explore 🙂

“In importing all those trillions in foreign-made goods, we exported the future of America’s young. Our political and corporate elites sold out working- and middle-class America—to enrich the monied class. And they sure succeeded.”

It seems to the cynic in me that the plan is when they want to bankrupt us through trade policies (NAFTA, TPP) they put a Democrat in office. When they want to bankrupt us through foreign policy (Iraq) they put a Republican in office. They figure that when it’s a Democrat, people will say “It seems like this trade deal isn’t in our best national interest…but hey, it’s a Democrat and they’re supposed to be the party of unions so it MUST be good for our jobs.” Wrong. Or, “It seems like this war isn’t in our best national interests…but hey, its a Republican and they’re supposed to be the party of defense so it MUST be to protect us from a threat.” Wrong.

We had Democrat Clinton trade bankruptcy(NAFTA), then Republican Bush war bankruptcy (IRAQ), now Democrat Obama trade bankruptcy again (TPP). Trade then war then trade then war…and so the wheel of insanity continues to spiral out of control with us following the same bankrupting policies but expecting different results. And who is up next after this trade disaster to take Americans for a spin on the gameshow…


The clue is: W_R

Next Republican candidate after some supposed “incident” in the Strait of Hormuz: “I’d like to buy the vowel ‘A’ for 5 trillion dollars Pat.”

Cynical? Yes.
Wrong? I hope so.
The day that Mr. Buchanan referred to of putting “the American republic first” can NOT come quick enough. We have to stop hitting the snooze button and wake up and start the day already.

#5 Comment By JohnMcC On May 8, 2015 @ 10:29 am

Of interest: “China Imports, Exports Fall Sharply in April”


#6 Comment By c matt On May 8, 2015 @ 11:06 am

The private information held by this cabal on the lives of political figures must be extensive in order to apply leverage to control them.

No need. Appeal to simple greed suffices.

#7 Comment By Alan On May 8, 2015 @ 11:59 am

Central economic planning is always a major fail. Baltimore wouldn’t need protectionism if industry hadn’t been driven from our shores by high corporate taxes and manipulation of the currency by the central bank, the tax that you don’t see.

Free trade works, but we haven’t been engaged in it for some time. Protectionism is just a statist bandaid for the other features of central planning, like taxes, like the central bank, that plague the economy.

#8 Comment By Johann On May 8, 2015 @ 12:40 pm

“For as imports substitute for U.S. production and kill U.S. jobs, trade deficits reduce a nation’s GDP.”

This statement is way too simplistic. For example, increased imports may actually increase exports which will increase GDP. Domestic manufacturing may import materials as input into their manufacturing process. Truly free trade would result in us manufacturing what we are best at and most competitive at, or manufacturing what only we can do for various reasons. And we will buy from others what they can make better and cheaper or what we cannot produce at all, like bananas. The wider the free trade area, the better. Can anyone imagine restricting trade between US states? or between counties within states? Of course not. We are all better off with free trade.

The problem is though, that these free trade agreements are not really free trade. They are full of favors for special interests.

#9 Comment By Hal Fiore On May 8, 2015 @ 12:40 pm

Pat Buchanan is overly optimistic. The post-peak empire escalator only goes one way.

#10 Comment By Andrew Zook On May 8, 2015 @ 12:55 pm

And over in other comments under articles here at TAC(pertaining to Baltimore/Ferguson etc) I see people blaming only the Dems and liberal “rule” for all the ills.
It’s past time that people who align with one side or the other of the aisle come to the realization that they ALL share responsibility in this mess. WE ALL share responsibility in some way. We vote for these people… The older I get, the more convinced of this I’m becoming. It is not one party at fault for this mess. Sure, some liberal policies have probably ruined some inner cities or some other part of our society, etc. As a moderate to liberal person, I have no problem with admitting that and owning it! It’s one reason I’m leaning more and more towards not voting until some alternatives/options other than the two parties gain more traction.
But the mostly white/upper-crust/industrial/big corp/free-trade/neo-con/Judeo-Christian-Western class is infested with self-claiming “conservatives” who fund, vote for, trumpet, and propagandize endlessly for exactly these kinds of nation ruining policies…and some of you have the gall to sit in your little whitopias, pointing your fingers at those “others” for making america fall apart?
ie “Oh, look at how badly those inner city slums are run! Oh dear. The country is going to h_ll. We would never allow that…” Really? And what senator and congressmen have been voting for in the last 30yrs? Oh, right. That Bible-thumping “pro-life” neo-con who loves defense contractors, big-box store lobbyists, suburban sprawl, going to war in the middle east at any opportunity, kissing Bibi yahoos you-know-what and etc etc. Own it you “conservatives” Own your role in part of the demise of this republic… It’s the first step towards a possibility of something different.

(BTW I commend EliteComminc for exemplifying this, at least in word here)

#11 Comment By James Canning On May 8, 2015 @ 2:05 pm

The US indeed has squandered trillions of dollars on unnecessary military adventures, and on unnecessary weapons etc., since “9/11”.
This has weakened the country in relation to China.

#12 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 8, 2015 @ 4:17 pm

If we could put the words of this Pat Buchanan column to music, it could serve as the anthem of tens of millions of us — tens of millions of working Americans who have been betrayed — tens of millions of working American who have seen both American sovereignty and American social justice sacrificed to the gods of the global economy.

American workers have been stabbed in the back by American capitalists who were not content with normal profits, but who demanded to be able to reap super-profits, mega-profits – even if to achieve those mega-profits they had to ship millions of American manufacturing jobs overseas – even if this export of American jobs brought the destruction of both the American middle class and the American Dream.

All around me I can feel the anger rising. When that anger is given a voice and is organized, a lot of things are going to change. Count on it!

#13 Comment By hooly On May 8, 2015 @ 5:11 pm

@libertarian jerry,

Instead of America being the main obstacle to the NWO, that honor should go to China. The Chinese are the ones who seem to be the LEAST cooperative when it comes to world trade and integration so beloved by the globalist elitists, constantly going their own way when it comes to international institutions, creating the AIIB, SCO, etc, making a mockery of climate change initiatives, protecting their markets, pursuing trade deals that benefit only China, expanding their influence around the world, snuffing out foreign infiltration by NGO’s and non-Han religions, etc, etc…

#14 Comment By Jon Socrates On May 9, 2015 @ 10:10 am

These disastrous trade policies are proof that Republicans can be just as idiotically ideological as many progressives. The underlying assumption seems to be that what’s good for American businesses is good for average Americans and the country as a whole. However, this relationship only holds true when businesses reinvest their profits in the country and in American workers. Globalization (free trade and unchecked immigration) means that companies increasingly invest their profits in foreigners and foreign countries. Of course, these companies also want protections and perks from the government.

Enough about Elizabeth Warren. How about #draftPatBuchanan2016

#15 Comment By tzx4 On May 9, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

@libertarian jerry
–Since I regard many readers and commenters on this site fare more knowledgeable than I, a disclaimer here, this commentary is based on personal opinion and views.–

I am still reserving ultimate judgement on what you said, but your perspective has come to my mind many times over the past 20 years. It is quite plausible.
If in fact it is the truth, it is ironic that the home party of the ones who fear “one world government” is the GOP, the party which is the one who most tends to kow tow to men and corporations of of great wealth regardless of whatever nationality they are or are(mostly)not aligned.
This greatly feared one world government is shaping up to be neither democratic, socialist,fascist, or communist. It is not one based on government of any legal foundation. It will be pure lawless plutocracy. Much national sovereignty has already been compromised,and our current president, so derided as Marxist and Communist by Fox News faithful (and don’t forget who owns Fox News / News Corporation), appears to be fighting to surrender even more sovereignty via the TPP.

#16 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 12, 2015 @ 12:59 am

What Jon Socrates wrote:

“How about #draftPatBuchanan2016”


#17 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 12, 2015 @ 7:17 pm

A breakdown of today’s “fast track” Senate vote:


#18 Comment By steve in ohio On May 13, 2015 @ 4:14 pm

“How about #draftPatBuchanan2016”

I voted for Pat in the 1992 and 1996 primaries. He is now 75 and looks it (sorry Pat). We need to find somebody younger with similar views–perhaps Rep. Duncan of Tenn–and elect that person to statewide office. From there he/she would have a better shot at the presidency.

#19 Comment By Tim Kimrey On May 17, 2015 @ 1:36 am

I’ve pretty much always viewed Pat Buchanan as an agent of the Catholic right and near Falangist with his constant talk of admiration for dictators like Franco, Pinochet, and such.

I’ve for the most part consider him to be the antithesis of my democratic socialist mindset.

But for the life of me I can’t believe that I am in full agreement with every word published in this article.

His critique of Liberalism(a god that failed if their ever was one) is breathtaking.

#20 Comment By Tim Kimrey On May 17, 2015 @ 1:40 am

Of course I meant to type a Neo- in front of Liberalism. I hope I don’t confuse any of my more reactionary comment mates with solidarity in their beliefs.

I assure you I have no such solidarity.

#21 Comment By Alex On May 19, 2015 @ 3:40 am

The US is a bankrupt country owned by China pure and simple.