Another Record Trade Deficit

Chimpy thinks this is good news. Then again, he’s admitted he doesn’t know who holds our debt.

The U.S. trade deficit set a record for the fifth straight year in 2006, reflecting a huge jump in America’s foreign oil bill and a record imbalance with China. The year ended with the December deficit increasing more than had been expected.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the gap between what America sells abroad and what it imports rose to a record $763.6 billion last year, a 6.5 percent increase from the previous record of $716.7 billion set in 2005. For December, the deficit rose a bigger-than-expected 5.3 percent to $61.2 billion.

The Bush administration attributed the string of deficits to the United States outpacing other countries in terms of economic growth. Officials said that President Bush would continue to pursue a strategy of opening foreign markets to U.S. goods rather than erecting protectionist barriers to keep out imports.

“Our focus is on growing our exports, growing our economy, reducing our unemployment and keeping inflation in check,” Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said in an interview from New Delhi, India.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats sent Bush a letter urging him to work with Democrats to craft a new trade strategy to deal with the exploding deficits.

“The consequences of these persistent and massive trade deficits include not only failed businesses, displaced workers, lower real wages and rising inequality, but also permanent devastation of our communities,” the Democrats said in their letter to Bush.

The Democrats noted that more than 3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since Bush took office with about one-third of those losses attributed to the rising deficit in manufactured goods.