Thursday, after the AFL-CIO officially endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported the nation's foreign trade deficit is skyrocketing.
According to the report, during the January-March quarter, the trade deficit climbed 9.9 percent to $124.7 billion, the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2008, when it was $152.5 billion at the height of the financial crisis. The downturn erased a $2 billion decrease in the deficit on merchandise trade, as well as a $400 million increase in the surplus on services.
Much of the sharp decline was related to a $9.6 billion decline in the surplus on investment earnings. The overall deficit is approximately 2.7 percent of gross domestic product, up from 2.5 percent in the preceding quarter. For all of 2015, the U.S. trade deficit was $463 billion, an increase of more than 18 percent over 2014. Economists closely watch these figures because they indicate how much the U.S. needs to borrow from foreign nations. Clinton's Republican counterpart, Donald Trump, was quick to point out the irony of having the nation's largest union endorse the candidate who he says has done more to hurt American job prospects than any other. "Hillary Clinton has supported virtually every trade agreement that has cost this country millions of jobs and is on the exact opposite side from rank-and-file union workers whose jobs she has destroyed," he said. "Clinton has helped negotiate the [Trans-Pacific Partnership] and is its biggest booster—there is no doubt she would enact it if given the chance—yet more betrayal of union voters whose jobs would vanish as a result of this deal." When Clinton was Secretary of State, she exploded the trade deficit with China, plunging millions more American workers into poverty. Crooked Hillary epitomizes the Wall Street agenda of globalization and outsourcing. "Trump's campaign also released a number of news articles and trade data to back up their candidate's claims, all of which is part of the "dirt on Hillary" he had promised to drop on the Democratic presidential nominee-in-waiting last week. A planned news conference where he was set to unveil the information was postponed due to the Islamist attack in Orlando, Fla.
"Sadly, with this endorsement of Hillary Clinton—who is totally owned by Wall Street—the leadership of the AFL-CIO has made clear that it no longer represents American workers," Trump added. "Instead they have become part of the rigged system in Washington, D.C. that benefits only the insiders. I believe their members will be voting for me in much larger numbers than for her."
He said Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have "made hundreds of millions of dollars doing favors and selling access to Wall Street, special interests and oppressive foreign regimes." Then, he invoked Clinton's primary challenger, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), who said Wall Street "owns" her and "she will do whatever they tell her to."
"Bernie Sanders is also 100-percent correct when he says that Hillary Clinton 'vote[d] for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions of jobs,'" he added. "Hillary supported NAFTA and she supported the trade deal with China, Vietnam, South Korea—and if elected will implement the TPP she loves so much—guaranteed.
"While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton racked up a $1 trillion trade deficit with China, all while China was funneling a small fortune to Hillary via speaking fees paid to Bill. On immigration, Hillary Clinton sides with Wall Street, too. Bernie Sanders correctly warned that open borders 'would substantially lower wages in this country,' and yet Hillary has put forward a plan that would completely open America's borders in her first 100 days in office."
Trump also briefly attacked Clinton's job-killing proposals on energy, taxes, and regulation. He said, if elected, she would "economically destroy" poor communities, hurting African-American and Hispanic workers.
"Hillary Clinton is the enemy of working people and is the best friend Wall Street ever had," he said. "I will fight harder for American workers than anyone ever has, and I will fight for their right to elect leaders who will do the same. I will be a president for all Americans."
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