The Great Outsourcing Debate: Romney, Obama and the Facts

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July 18, 2012 by Nash Riggins

Throughout recent weeks, Republicans have launched an aggressive campaign in which they seek to directly associate President Barack Obama with the outsourcing of American jobs abroad; however, the majority of said attacks may not be completely warranted.

Indeed, critics from all sides of the political spectrum have condemned both presidential candidates for their heavy support of business abroad, citing numerous examples of ways in which they have instigated some form of ‘outsourcing’ that contradicts the predictable pledges made by both campaigns in order to drastically increase domestic employment. As a result, both the Obama and Romney campaigns have latched onto these accusations against each other as a means of winning the vote of America’s working class – yet upon further investigation, it appears that the definitions of ‘outsourcing’ as expressed by these attacks are blatantly inaccurate.

In general, outsourcing can be loosely defined as the act of a domestic company hiring another (typically foreign) company to carry out work for them as part of a larger business initiative. This act does not include the firing of domestic workers – although this can sometimes be an indirect consequence – and most typically takes place only when a key aspect of an industry’s infrastructure is unavailable in said country. It is for this reason that even small business has become a creature of multinationalism, and is also why many American brands have found outstanding success in multiple countries throughout the world.

That being said, the assumption being held by both Republicans and Democrats is that said practice always leads directly to Americans missing out on job opportunities – regardless of the irrevocable truth that the latter is only occasionally incidental, and more often than not, that the two factors are mutually exclusive.

The Obama campaign has blasted Mitt Romney relentlessly based upon this false presumption – in particular, via the intense proportion of foreign investments overseen by Bain Capital, asserting that the latter has undoubtedly negatively impacted America’s working-class. However, this assertion is fairly unwarranted, as it would be quite presumptuous indeed in order to reprimand private organisations for the ways in which they choose to invest their money. Does Mitt Romney’s track record with regards to heavily favouring foreign investments – as well as his tidy collection of offshore bank accounts – lend any credit whatsoever to his reputation as a ‘regular Joe’? Absolutely not, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the way in which he has accumulated his intimidatingly large fortune has stolen jobs from hard-working Americans.

Likewise, the GOP’s assertion that Barack Obama is America’s ‘Outsourcer in Chief’ is a misinterpreted and unprecedented work of fiction. In fact, the Republican Party even took the time and effort in order to promote these fabrications via a single-serving website – obamanomicsoutsourced.com – that features a map in which visitors can click on each nation of the world in order to learn how the stimulus package has ‘funded’ ventures abroad rather than benefit America’s working class.

“If there is an outsourcer-in-chief, it’s the President of the United States, not the guy who’s running to replace him,” Romney has since said. “This president has been outsourcing a good deal of American jobs himself by putting money into energy companies, solar and wind energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States.”

Indeed, the majority of the accusations of ‘outsourcing’ being made by the GOP’s new top-dollar site involve renewable energy investments. As the Energy Department begins to focus on long-term renewable energy investments – in particular, large-scale wind farms – it cannot be ignored that 60% of domestic, stimulus-funded wind farms greatly rely on foreign manufacturers in order to obtain components, as there is no such industry-specific infrastructure currently available domestically. Similarly, around 20% of government-subsidized solar panels are being supplied via Mexican manufacturers (the other 80% are manufactured in California), which can also be blamed on the US solar industry’s inability to meet its government’s demands.

Given that all of the government-contracted renewable energy companies are privately-owned, neither of these stimulus-funded ventures can be pegged as ‘outsourcing’ in the sense that it will hurt America’s working class, as they merely exemplify the Republican hallmark of free enterprise in a global economy. Domestic renewable energy manufacturers are – for the first time in American history – being utilised to their full capacity, and the American people will be the sole beneficiaries of the end result of said multinational cooperation.

In fact, in one case of President Obama’s evil plot to unemploy America, stimulus money went to a German turbine manufacturer so that the foreign-owned company could build a factory in Arkansas – employing over 700 US citizens. Other examples of President Obama’s ‘outsourcing of American jobs’ include privately-owned companies such as stimulus-aided General Electric opening a factory in Thailand, as well as public awareness campaigns by the EPA in order to help developing countries understand the impact of their carbon emissions upon the environment.

Like it or not, business is not exclusive to American enterprise – after all, if business was not truly global, how else would a crisis in the US housing market inadvertently cause a recession in Ireland? The US economy is a beast of global proportions, and most major employers of US citizens hold countless investments overseas and hire foreign workers. In turn, new foreign companies are investing in the United States and hiring American workers every single day. Indeed, if critics wish to argue that the given examples of the Obama administration’s falsely interpreted foreign investments are outsourcing, it should be noted that said critics do not support capitalism or free-enterprise. After all, as one of Romney’s senior advisors rationalized after similar accusations were made against Mr Romney, foreign investments of this calibre are merely “companies that are expanding into new markets.”

Mitt Romney may not be the best personification of the American people and their collective fiscal situation, but that does not mean that he is responsible for the closing of US factories. As for the GOP’s over-the-top website and its arguments that President Obama is America’s ‘Outsourcer in Chief’ – even the man who inadvertently compiled the report behind the attacks admits that the Republicans have used his findings completely out of context.

“The RNC’s website does correctly cite some of the data we uncovered in the course of our investigation,” investigator Russ Choma said. “Most of that reporting is over two years old and the RNC site presents just a snippet of what we found … I don’t think we saw anything that indicated the Obama administration pushed jobs overseas.”

Just because money is invested in foreign organisations does not mean that it will take work away from American citizens – and it sure as hell doesn’t mean that Americans are being harmed as a direct result of said investments. In fact, if privately-owned ventures didn’t invest money in foreign enterprise, the American economy would without doubt shrivel into oblivion and die within a matter of months. If Republicans and Democrats wish to trade blows regarding which presidential candidate cares less about America’s working class, that’s fine; however, neither party should make an attempt in order to drive their campaign forward with misinterpreted facts that are based upon misleading and outdated reports.

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3 thoughts on “The Great Outsourcing Debate: Romney, Obama and the Facts

  1. George Laney says:

    I wish somebody told all this to Fox News….

  2. Nick Miller says:

    Well written, but you’re kind of marginalizing the entire debate by restricting it to the private sector.

    • Patricia M says:

      That’s the whole point! Outsourcing is only applicable to the private sector. Anything else, especially if the President does it, is just foreign relations and not outsourcing. If Mitt Romney wins the Oval Office he’ll have to give money to other countries too, but will his Republican pals call that outsourcing? Nope, they’ll call it defending freedom or something like that.

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