Foreign Policy Speech Vol. 4: Obama Has “Crippled” US with Trade Deficit

In our fourth installment fact checking Donald Trump’s April 27th foreign policy speech, we look at a popular whipping boy for Trump: trade deficits. He blamed Obama for a laundry list ills in the US, including trade deficits:

“[Obama] has crippled us with wasteful spending, massive debt, low growth, a huge trade deficit and open borders. Our manufacturing trade deficit with the world is now approaching $1 trillion a year.”

There are a couple of problems with that statement. Trump blamed Obama for a “huge trade deficit” but the trade deficit has gone down under the Obama administration. According to the good people at, the trade deficit has shrunk by a significant amount since the Bush administration. In 2008 the trade deficit was $708.7 billion, which has dropped to $539.8 billion in 2015. That’s a 24% reduction in the trade deficit under the Obama administration.


It is hyperbole and an exaggeration to say that the trade deficit is “approaching $1 trillion a year.” The all time record for the US trade deficit was $762 billion in 2006, hardly “approaching $1 trillion” even at the highest point ten years ago. As stated above, the deficit has shrunk since the mid-2000s, and has stayed stagnant in the $500 to $600 billion range for the last 7 years. Again, hardly “approaching $1 trillion.”



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