(UPDATE )Campaigning in Grand Junction, Colorado on Tuesday, Mitt Romney seized on a Washington Post report that said that liberal critics charge President Obama has failed to protect American jobs from being moved overseas, saying he has failed to confront China, rein in unfettered trade nor reworked a U.S. visa program that sends high-tech jobs overseas.
“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 is an outsourcer in chief, it’s the president of the United States, not the guy who’s running to replace him.”
Romney was quick to point the finger at Obama after the president's re-election team has been painting the picture that Bain Capital, Romney's old private equity firm, had invested in companies that specialized in helping other firms relocate work overseas, another story reported by the Post that Obama first referenced in his appearance at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa last month.
The issue is obviously a sensitive one, and the GOP couldn't wait to seize on the Post story on Tuesday, producing a website called Obamanomics Outsourced: The Truth About How Obama Shipped The Recovery Overseas.
The website says that Obama used taxpayer dollars” to build solar panels in Mexico, windmills in Denmark and batteries in South Korea. The accusation involves money from the 2009 stimulus package that went to foreign-owned companies or to companies relying on foreign suppliers.
The White House responded with a six-page document that begins:
President Obama has fought continuously to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, fostered incentives for companies to bring jobs back to America and doubled the rate of trade enforcement actions we’ve taken against China to ensure an even playing field for American workers. That’s a record that stands in stark contrast to Mitt Romney, who profited from investments in companies that were pioneers in shipping American jobs to India and China, vetoed legislation that would have prevented outsourcing and supports a tax policy that would encourage companies to ship American jobs overseas.
(Update: The New York Times on Wednesday spoke with several of the companies featured on the GOP's website, and they contend that a lot of the information on there is inaccurate).
According to the Republican committee, ABB Inc., a global energy and technology company, “received over $16 million in stimulus funds to create green energy manufacturing jobs” and has “laid off workers in the U.S. and transferred work to Mexico.”
“That sounds like somebody taking facts and just twisting them,” said Barry Dillon, the spokesman for ABB, based in North Carolina. Mr. Dillon said the company employs 19,000 people in the United States, and another 8,000 across Canada and Mexico. Employment is up in the United States, he said.
“There’s nothing wholesale that we moved from the U.S. into Mexico,” Mr. Dillon said. In a detailed e-mail, Mr. Dillon wrote that the company has been expanding in both the United States and Mexico to meet rising demands of the market.
The R.N.C. also accuses Mr. Obama’s administration of sending $1.3 billion in loan guarantees to a company that will manufacture solar panels in Mexico.
A spokeswoman for the SunPower Corporation, based in California, said a “large number of the panels” would be built at the company’s facility in Milpitas, Calif., for installation at a “solar ranch” in California. Some will be built at its plants in Asia and Mexico, said the spokeswoman, Natalie Wymer. The federal loan guarantee, which was closer to $1.2 billion, actually went to another company, NRG Solar, which owns the solar ranch.
And Fisker Automotive, a manufacturer of luxury hybrid electric cars based in Anaheim, Calif., said the Republican committee’s description of the company as a “stimulus recipient” was false. The Obama administration approved up to $529 million in loans for the company, but they were under a George W. Bush-era program intended to spur more fuel-efficient technologies, not the stimulus package. The company has taken only $193 million of the loans.
The original Washington Post story reported that during the nearly 15 years that Romney ran Bain, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components.
Expect this issue to dominate the news cycle for the next few days, and probably longer.