Ho hum, hot off the presses is yet another lacklustre just-released American trade report for the month of November. With imports on the rise (mostly due to energy) and exports on the wane, let's just say US trade performance is not going to be contributing as positively to their GDP figures in Q4 2011 as hoped. You may recall back in 2010 when Obama set a target to double US exports by 2015? Let's just say they're not moving towards that goal with any alacrity as evidenced by the latest trade figures or with the figures to date.
What to do? It's probably just rearranging deck chairs on the US Titanic, but just in is word that Obama intends to (finally) merge various government agencies handling trade. Moreover, the move is calculated to receive Republican support by reducing a sprawling network of agencies:
The Commerce Department would cease to exist after the consolidation of trade agencies that President Barack Obama is seeking, a White House budget official said on Friday. It would create a new yet-to-be-named department focused on exports, said Jeffrey Zients of the Office of Management and Budget.That said, Obama mooted doing so in March of last year to no avail. Busybody activity aplenty perhaps, but to what end?
Parts of the Commerce Department that are unrelated to trade and businesses, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, would be moved to other government agencies, he told reporters. The U.S. Trade Representative would remain a cabinet-level position and the head of the Small Business Administration would also be made a cabinet post, Zients said. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the overhaul proposal would save money and should get bipartisan support in Congress.
UPDATE: The WSJ adds more details, including some lawmakers on either side of the aisle reluctant who are reluctant if it involves dismembering the USTR:
"Taking USTR, one of the most efficient agencies that is a model of how government can and should work, and making it just another corner of a new bureaucratic behemoth would hurt American exports and hinder American job creation," House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) said in a joint written statement.