Coclanis said the 825 new Siemens jobs in Charlotte are dwarfed by 2,500 positions being created at two new poultry plants near Rocky Mount, N.C. Sanderson Farms said it chose the location because of the area’s 13.4 percent jobless rate, which guarantees it can find workers at $11 an hour. Siemens’s new hires make twice that, on average.
“One could make a plausible case for either the classic Democratic vision for investing in education and human capital or the Republican fix of cutting taxes and regulation — creating a, quote unquote, good business environment,” Coclanis said. “If you’re a poultry processing plant, you’re not going to want to move to Charlotte. You’re going to want to move to the eastern part of the state, where you can pay workers next to nothing.”
Romney’s plan for growth centers on slashing government spending while cutting tax rates sharply for everyone. Romney claims his approach would create 12 million jobs over the next four years, a conclusion that relies heavily on research by Alan Auerbach, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley.
Auerbach, who has studied the economic effects of tax cuts, said lower taxes on savings and investment do cause people to plow more money into new investments, which “should lead to faster economic growth.” But “how much, how fast” is harder to say, Auerbach said. And that approach is, in any case, less likely to be effective in a sluggish economy, he said, when businesses are holding back on new investments not because they do not have the cash but because they are “looking first at whether they can sell stuff.”
“If the question is what would [Obama and Romney] do right now to spur economic activity,” Auerbach said, “I’m not sure either platform is particularly well designed for that.”
Meanwhile, the austerity budgets favored by the GOP would cut government spending in the very areas that do seem to matter. In his most recent budget, Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), proposed spending 25 percent less on transportation over the next decade than Obama and 31 percent less on education and training.
As part of their campaign to shrink the size of government, House Republicans also tried to kill the Export-Import Bank, which encourages exports by financing the foreign purchase of U.S. goods and services, turning a profit for taxpayers. Spiegel said the bank was a critical factor in Siemens’s decision to build turbines for export in the United States.
The battle over job creation has come to define the 2012 presidential campaign, as well as politics in North Carolina. Obama narrowly won the state in 2008; this year’s race is a tossup.