Biden’s 1st Year, Biggest Ever Trade Deficit; Small Business Declining Optimism; No $109B College Program

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President Joe Biden’s first year in office has not only seen inflation run at the fastest pace in four decades. It has also seen the trade deficit expand to the widest import-export gap on record.

The trade deficit of goods and services grew by 1.8 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted $80.7 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, slightly less than the record deficit of $80.8 billion reached in September.

The full-year trade deficit for 2021 increased 27 percent to $859.1 billion, passing the previous record of $763.53 billion set in 2006. Commerce Department records go back to 1960.

The sharp increase comes from a U.S. economy stricken with a weakened manufacturing sector that could not expand to match consumer demand as the country emerged from the pandemic. American consumers spent heavily on goods which in past decades would have expanded U.S. production but now fuels imports.

A gauge of prices at small businesses hit its highest level since 1974 in January, data from the National Federation of Independent Business showed Tuesday.

The tidal waves of inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, and shortages of both goods and workers that have soaked the U.S. economy have hit small businesses especially hard. Many larger businesses often have deep connections to suppliers and distributors, as well as more leverage when it comes to negotiating over prices, that smaller, independent businesses lack.

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Twenty-two percent of small business owners say inflation is their most important business problem, according to the NFIB’s January survey. That matched the December level, which was the highest level since 1981.

Jill Biden said Monday that taxpayer-funded community college won’t be included in the administration’s Build Back Better agenda.

“Congress hasn’t passed the Build Back Better agenda – yet,” she said in a speech before the Community College National Legislative Summit in Washington. “And free community college is no longer a part of that package.”

The first lady, who teaches English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College, said she was “disappointed.”

“But Joe has also had to make compromises,” she said.

President Joe Biden initially asked Congress for $109 billion in taxpayer money to pay for two years of community college for all American students, including people brought to the U.S. as children by migrant parents.

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Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of American Association of Community Colleges, said community colleges are engines for economic development.

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