The Republicans are trying to make a lot of noise to distract from the fact that Mitt Romney was an outsourcing pioneer —Ben LaBolt, Obama campaign
After President Barack Obama hit GOP challenger Mitt Romney with attacks on his business record and claims of outsourcing, the Republican National Committee struck back Tuesday with the launch of a new website, obamanomicsoutsourced.com.
The outsourcing issue first began with a Washington Post article published June 21, which claimed that Mitt Romney's financial company, Bain Capital, invested in firms that specialized in relocating jobs to countries like China and India.
The Obama campaign quickly jumped on the report, citing it in ads, interviews and campaign speeches.
"The Washington Post reports that as CEO, Mitt Romney advised companies that were 'pioneers' in outsourcing jobs overseas," barakobama.com said. "As governor, Romney drew from the same playbook and outsourced state jobs. And today, Romney has proposed eliminating all taxes on companies' foreign profits — which would actually encourage companies to send jobs overseas."
"Mitt Romney's not the solution," one Obama ad said. "He's the problem."
"Mitt Romney's companies were pioneers in outsourcing U.S. jobs to low-wage countries," another ad said. "He supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. President Obama believes in insourcing."
"Does Iowa really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House?" a third ad asked.
"As a corporate raider, (Romney) shipped jobs to China and Mexico," a fourth ad said. "As governor he did the same thing, outsourcing state jobs to India."
Three ads cite the Washington Post article, but the Washington Post's fact checker said the Obama campaign is wrongly defining what the article said.
"The actual article, in fact, does not say that transfers of U.S. jobs took place while Romney ran the private equity firm of Bain Capital," the fact check said. "The campaign clearly seized on this report because their interpretation fit with a long-term 'outsourcing' attack they have waged against Romney. One of their outsourcing ads before the article ran, in fact, earned Four Pinocchios. These new ads would not fare much better; there is little in the Post article that backs up the Obama campaign's spin."
FactCheck.org said that after reviewing corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, news accounts, company histories and press releases and the evidence offered by both political campaigns, there is no evidence to support Obama's claim that Romney helped ship American jobs overseas while at Bain Capital.
After the Obama campaign complained about FactCheck.org's analysis, FactCheck.org released another post saying the Obama campaign's evidence of Romney's outsourcing is "weak or non-existent, and contrary to statements Romney has made on official disclosure forms under pain of federal prosecution."
National press secretary for the Obama campaign Ben LaBolt again cited the Washington Post article during a July 10 appearance on MSNBC, dismissing the FactCheck.org posts and saying the fact checker must not read The Washington Post.
On Tuesday, weeks after the outsourcing attacks began, the Republican National Committee launched obamanomicsoutsourced.com, which highlights stimulus projects and where money was sent.
"As (Obama) racked up trillions in new debt, billions of dollars did go to create jobs that were outsourced or spent overseas," the site said. "Whether is it electric cars made in Finland or solar panels in Mexico, taxpayers would be astonished to learn that their hard-earned money went abroad for jobs that weren't created in the United States."
According to the website, Switzerland, China, Finland, Denmark, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, Italy, Russia, Germany, Luxembourg, El Salvador, Great Britain, India, Spain, Indonesia, Japan and France have connections to companies that received stimulus funds or grants, or received stimulus funds directly.
Many of the companies that received funds have ties to the green energy industry, such as Fisker Automotive, which built cars in Finland, or the California Solar Valley Ranch, which included some solar panels built in Mexico rather than at the SunPower California plant.
"The Republicans are trying to make a lot of noise to distract from the fact that Mitt Romney was an outsourcing pioneer," LaBolt said on MSNBC, downplaying the new RNC website. "Look, there's a big difference."
ABC News looked at this issue in 2010, reporting that nearly $2 billion in stimulus money had been spent building wind power turbines, but most of it had been spent overseas. Nearly eight out of every $10 stimulus dollars for wind power went to foreign companies, the news report said.
National Reviews' Jim Geraghty wrote that if off-shoring jobs is wrong, that same standard should be applied to the federal government. He cited a Monday Washington Post article that reported the Russian government has more than doubled its U.S. contracts after the United States retired its shuttle fleet last year. Companies run by the Russian government received $792 million in direct federal awards in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, compared with $342 million the year before, the article said.
Another Washington Post article published July 9 said Obama is also facing outsourcer complaints from the left, with critics saying he should have confronted China, reigned in unfettered trade and reworked a U.S. visa program that may send high-tech jobs abroad.
According to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, large American companies in 2010 increased numbers of workers in the U.S. by 0.1 percent, but expanded their foreign workforce by 1.5 percent, the article said.
"The president could not have been more emphatic about his vision for trying to eliminate the incentives for offshoring and increase incentives to create jobs here," Brian Deese, deputy director of Obama's National Economic Council, told the Post. "We have tried to use all the tools available to us to make creative administrative changes where we can to discourage offshoring."
In an exchange with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell after the RNC website debuted, Romney surrogate John Sununu said that the White House could keep pushing the outsourcing claim, but that it won't be a winning issue for Obama.
"Isn't Mitt Romney more vulnerable than the president on the issue because there still is the whole question of private equity of outsourcing?" Mitchell asked. "Isn't it a bigger problem for Republicans than for the White House?"
"No," Sununu answered. "When you've sent $500 million to Fisker and it goes to Finland immediately, when you send the solar money and it goes to Mexico, when you send the turbine money and it goes to Denmark — and we can go on all day. There is $29 billion worth of purchases that came out of this administration; outsourced jobs to foreign countries."
Romney also jumped into the outsourcing battle while campaigning in Colorado Tuesday, saying the president has been running "some interesting attack ads."
"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," Romney said. "If there's an outsourcer-in-chief, it's the president of the United States, not the guy who's running to replace him."
"There's a stark difference between where (Romney) and President Obama want to take this country," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith responded. "The American people deserve a president who will fight to create jobs here in America, not the outsourcer-in-chief Mitt Romney promises to be."