Candidates’ role in outsourcing jobs under the spotlight

July 15, 2012

Both President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney were scrutinized last week over their purported role in outsourcing U.S. jobs to other countries.

Since both candidates have made the economic recovery — including ways the government can give incentives to U.S. businesses to hire American workers — the center of their campaigns, questions over their part in outsourcing jobs are especially relevant. They intensified after a Washington Post report last month found that under Romney’s leadership, Bain invested in companies that pioneered the practice of moving jobs from the U.S. to China, India and other countries.

For Obama, it was critics on the left who said the president has failed to take action that would have protected American jobs from being moved overseas, the Post reported last week. Manufacturing groups said Obama should declare China a “currency manipulator,” which could allow the U.S. to put tariffs in place to protect American industries. And engineers have criticized Obama for not revising the rules of the H-1B visa program that they say encourages the outsourcing of technology jobs to other countries. The White House has said that Obama has fought to preserve and create new U.S. jobs and that it’s up to Congress to pass a tax plan the administration introduced in January that would discourage outsourcing.

Meanwhile, Romney faced new criticism over his record at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded. The Boston Globe reported that despite Romney saying he left the company in 1999 to run the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake — important because he has maintained he’s not responsible for outsourcing and job losses Bain was involved in after 1999 — his name remained on SEC filings as Bain’s chief executive and chairman through 2002.

The report helped trigger new pressure on Romney to disclose more information about his personal finances, with Democrats calling on him to release additional tax returns.

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for the Capital Business section of The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.
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