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Trade Deficit and Energy Independence

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to talk about a statistic that came out last week that says a lot about the direction of the United States of America, and that was the trade deficit for April. That is the deficit between what the United States exported and what we imported from overseas. Essentially, when we run a deficit, we are borrowing money to buy things that are made overseas. That has long-term implications in terms of U.S. indebtedness to foreign nations, particularly China which is growing more rapidly than our debt to any other nation, and the loss of the jobs that comes from that. The trade deficit for April was 63.4 billion jobs.

Now, the Commerce Department, the Bush Commerce Department likes to tout our trade policy and talk about how it creates jobs, and they say for every billion dollars of trade, you create 20,000 jobs. Well, if you are running a deficit, then that must mean you are running a negative number in terms of the creation of jobs. In this case, that would be about 12 million jobs lost in 1 month's trade deficit. Three million of those are manufacturing jobs. We are outsourcing all of the United States industrial base to China. That also has national security along with economic implications in the future. But down at the Bush White House and at the Bush Commerce Department and the Bush appointees at the Federal Reserve, they say this is great. It shows how strong our economy is that the world is willing to finance our borrowing to buy things that they make that we used to make that we don't make anymore.

Now, what world do they live in? Americans are losing jobs. Wages are being driven down. They think that is good actually. The President did have an economic adviser last year who said the exported jobs was just the greatest new manifestation of the benefits of trade, outsourcing of jobs. So they are totally sanguine about a $63.4 billion trade deficit, about the fact that we are borrowing $2 billion a day from foreign countries to buy things made elsewhere in the world. That is not a sustainable model. It now exceeds over 6 percent of our total gross domestic product. That is worse than Argentina before they collapsed in a heap a few years ago. This is not sustainable. It is ultimately going to lead to a crash in the dollar and a huge run-up in interest rates here in the United States that make the Jimmy Carter interest rates of 16 and 17 percent look like a bargain.

But the Bush administration says, no, it is working just fine. It is working just fine for a bunch of corporate CEOs and a few boards of directors and other preferred people in this country. It is not working well for American workers, and the American consumers are getting a Faustian bargain here. We may see some cheaper prices in the short term, but long term things are going to get much more expensive.

It also reflects a failed or, let us say, a lack of any energy policy on the part of the United States of America. $24 billion of the April deficit was due to oil imports. So while we fund Saudi Arabia and other countries that harbor and have harbored and created terrorists that attack the United States of America with billions of dollars every month, the Bush administration, totally enthralled to Big Oil, wants to continue to just say, no, let the markets, let Big Oil solve our energy problems. After all, they are making a pile of money. ExxonMobil made $100 million a day last year. Things are working really well in the energy markets. Yet, if we look a little south to Brazil, 30 years ago when there was an oil crisis, Brazil said they were going to become energy independent, and they have. If the people of Brazil can become energy independent, I believe the people of America could if we were well led, if we had an energy policy that determined to lead us toward energy independence instead of being in hock to Big Oil and OPEC and Saudi Arabia and other hostile interests around the world.

We could do much better for ourselves and we could have long-term stable and more affordable energy, but it is going to require an investment. It is also going to require standing up to Big Oil. Short term, we have got to take on the price gouging and the profits and the manipulation of markets by Big Oil and bring the price down while we transition to a more sustainable model, and then we have got to invest in the new technologies that will lead us to energy independence and efficiency.

But, sadly, the Republican majority and the Bush White House have no interest in taking America in that direction. The petroleum industry is a very, very generous campaign contributor. Eighty-five percent of their massive contributions out of that obscene profit flowed to the Republican Party and the Bush White House last year, and they are not going to take them on. Well, we should take them on for the interest of America and the American people. And I tell you, this is one Member, and I believe there are other Members on this side and even a few on that side who are willing to take them on. We have to deal with the trade deficit, and part of that is getting a sustainable energy policy.

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