A strategy to reduce trade deficit (Sen. Sherrod Brown & Sen. Byron Dorgan)

From 2002 to 2008, the U.S. trade deficit nearly doubled from $468 billion to $816 billion. While the lopsided imbalance of trade temporarily closed during a short period during the deepest part of the recession, the trade deficit has once again resumed widening.

When we run a trade deficit, we ship jobs overseas. It’s as simple as that. Continuing to ignore our trade deficit, as it once again starts to rise, is irresponsible and unsustainable. We must, at the very least, get a group in place to recommend what we must do to get our fiscal house in order.

I fully support President Obama’s goal of doubling exports over the next five years. However, by itself this initiative won’t solve the deep, structural problems facing the country. Exports nearly doubled in the five years between 2003 and 2008, but so did the trade deficit.

Since Congress enacted free trade with China ten years ago this month, our trade deficit with China has skyrocketed upwards of 200 percent. As of June of this year, our monthly trade deficit with China was a staggering $26 billion dollars, and Ohio companies are suffering as a result. A Trade Deficit Commission is one step toward creating a long-term plan to combat our sharply rising trade deficit and boost exports, which will in turn help put our country’s economy back on track.

The Dorgan-Brown bill would establish an “Emergency Commission to End the Trade Deficit” composed of 11 members appointed by the president and bipartisan leadership in Congress. It would report on the causes of the trade deficit, and develop a detailed plan to reduce the trade deficit and specific bilateral trade deficits.

The Commission would present its findings and a set of recommendations to achieve its goals to the President and Congress within 16 months of the bill’s enactment.