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Why the offshoring bill?

One other thing about the Democrats' dumb anti-offshoring proposal: They don't expect it to pass. No one does. The bill increases the deficit by about $700 million, and so Ben Nelson will vote against it, and so too will every Republican. I understand playing small ball when you're doing it because it's the only game in town. But if you're content with losing so long as you get to message, why not choose something that will actually excite a few people, and that, if you can run on it successfully, would do some good if it passes? Why not choose the Fair Elections Now Act? Or if you want to do jobs, go for a full payroll-tax holiday, rather than a payroll-tax holiday that only employers only get if they also fire a foreigner?

By Ezra Klein  | September 28, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

It's easy. Because Senate Democrats as a group are stupid and corrupt(there are good Senators like Al Franken, Sherrod Brown, Feingold and Bernie Sanders). If DeMented's nonsense doesn't seal the deal for filibuster reform, I don't know what does.

Posted by: Calvin_Jones_and_the_13th_Apostle | September 28, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Ezra: I agree that the legislation is idiotic. But if it's the case that it can't get to Obama's desk, what's the harm? Are you really so sure it won't generate some excitement among downmarket voters? I actually think it's pretty clever: Although most analysis I've seen suggests that Tea Partyers themselves tend to more affluent than the median voter, surely protectionist resentment of Big Capital is not an unknown emotion among this cohort. And surely there are plenty of Tea Partyers -- and needless to say zillions of non Tea Party persuadable voters -- for whom economic anxiety is issue numero uno. I think the legislation -- at least to the extent it gets reported on by the media -- sends a loud and clear message that undercuts the Tea Paty/GOP's claims to be standing up for Ordinary Voters. I certainly think it's possible the proposal could help the odd endangered Democrat (cough, Feingold, cough) in the Midwest.

Posted by: Jasper999 | September 28, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

On the bright side, talking about the anti-offshoring bill is more helpful to the Incumbent Social-Democrats than is talking about the ongoing FBI investigation of former SEIU President Andy Stern.

As the Associated Press notes in its report today, "The disclosure about the federal inquiry of Stern — who abruptly resigned as president of the 2.2-million member SEIU in April — comes just weeks ahead of contentious congressional elections in which the union is spending an estimated $44 million to support its favored Democratic candidates."

Posted by: rmgregory | September 28, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The senate's post health care performance is making me seriously consider voting for Crazy Carly in CA.

At least when I vote for her, I know I'm getting someone that doesn't care about my interests, and is in the pocket of the rich. If I was to vote for Boxer, I'd be voting for someone who is capable of doing nothing good for anyone.

Part of this is taking the longer view... I think if we get Republican majorities now, it's much more likely to swing back to Dems in 2012... maybe by then, the party will have matured enough to get something accomplished. If Dems retain their majority, they are certain to lose it in 2012.

Posted by: will12 | September 28, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

The rules to this game are anything but new.

The dynamic has been going on for so long, the only answer that makes sense is the one that people don't really want to consider:

Democrats are getting the results that they want to get.

As Ezra relates, this is not rocket science. We need a third party, a Progessive Party, instead of the Democratic Party that tries to run to the center which is itself to the right of East. Then, we can build coalitions for change, and not this semblance of change in which Right and Left are the same corporate stooges.

Posted by: terraformer5 | September 28, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Sigh... sadly my plan will not work. Obama will still be on the presidential ticket in 2012. If the economy is still bad, I suspect it will be since at the rate we're adding jobs we will never reach full employment, let alone 7% unemployment, Dems will be punished.

Yay! We're doomed!

Posted by: will12 | September 28, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Presumably blue collar workers do care about offshoring unlike the DC pundits. Meanwhile, there's no reason in the world to believe that campaign finance reform will matter at all, nor that Democrats should campaign on destroying social security's finances.

Posted by: Hopeful9 | September 28, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"Presumably blue collar workers do care about offshoring unlike the DC pundits."

Sometimes there's nothing Congress can do to help:

Some UAW members just voted themselves onto the unemployment lines because they didn't think $15.50/hr + up to a $35,000 bonus over two years + the option to transfer to a GM plant was acceptable. Some might be able to transfer to another GM plant anyways, though that option would have been retained had the union accepted the offer.

"We are withdrawing from pursuing the plant any further," JD Norman Industries announced after autoworkers voted 457-96 against a concession contract that would have cleared the way for Norman to buy the plant and cut wages by nearly half."

http://www.indystar.com/article/20100927/BUSINESS/9270390/UAW-turned-down-contract-to-retain-GM-plant

Posted by: justin84 | September 28, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

justin84 implies that the UAW is somehow in the wrong for not taking whatever offer is on the table.

That's really not how negotiations work in the real world. The wages cited are well below industry standard, and "up to $35,000 bonus over two years" doesn't mean very much.

Apparently well over 80% of the people voting on the offer felt that way.

I like the tone of the "blame the worker" argument. Rich corporations are entitled to be cutthroat, while workers who don't accept that are stupid.

The reality is that all these things are negotiable.

Posted by: rick_desper | September 28, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Hi Ezra,

I am really offended by your attacks on the offshoring bill. They really betray your ignorance of how life and careers work in the US. The H1B visa system has truly been systematically abused to dis-employ tens of thousands of high skill US-born workers, usually in their forties and fifties. And the high school educated American workforce has been deeply, terribly abused in the construction trades, meatpacking and other, previously unionized industries by the systematic importation of non-union immigrant labor.

Finally, I cannot believe that you do not see the corrosive effects of offshoring. Millions of American families have lost their principal livelihood by factory and department closings in nearly every industry, in favor of offshoring the work.

The loss of millions of middle class jobs through these abuses of trade and immigration policy and enforcement have not created some utopia of economic theory. They have hollowed out millions' of families' economic well being, and this loss of national wealth is the hidden story of the Great Recession that really began in 1999.

Yes, the offshoring law is poorly designed. Yes, we need immigration reform. But we also need stable families, and strong local economies. Thank God the Democrats are at least acknowledging the need. You just don't seem to see it.

Posted by: Dollared | September 28, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Jasper, you're right. Wisconsin has been hard hit by the recession, but has also been a survivor (how Paul Ryan keeps his district in Janesville when he would have killed GM is beyond me....). It would help Feingold to see more results from the Dems

Posted by: Dollared | September 28, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Ok, let's start at the beginning. Let's agree on a few Democratic Party principles. All right, let's skip that step, we'll get to it later.

What comes next is a strategy. You're right that's too hard. We'll put that aside for now. It's too close to the election to matter anyway.

At least let's agree on critical issues that can be a litmus test to support our brand and differentiate ourselves from the Republicans. Oh, that's right, there's really no differentiating factors and we don't really want to have a strong united brand.

So that leaves us with . . . everybody for themselves and doing inconsequential things that make us look weak and foolish.

Mission Accomplished!

And two last things - quitcherbithen and don't be irresponsible or we might lose the House and the Senate. And that would be bad. Because, just because.

Posted by: LosGatosCA | September 28, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"UAW is somehow in the wrong for not taking whatever offer is on the table."

rick_desper,

All I imply here is that no bill out of Congress is going to fix this type of problem. The offer was work for a living wage or the plant shuts down and most of the workers are unemployed.

What makes it worse is that 96 reasonable people are out of a job because 457 idiots couldn't see the writing on the wall.

If a guy puts a gun to my head and says "your wallet or your life", I'm going to hand over the wallet, however much I might not enjoy doing so as it beats the alternative. Hoping the thief is willing to negotiate would be, to put it mildly, wishful thinking.

"That's really not how negotiations work in the real world. The wages cited are well below industry standard, and "up to $35,000 bonus over two years" doesn't mean very much."

Unfortunately, in the "real world" we have ~500 more unemployed people earning even lower wages (I'd say zero but of course they will be getting unemployment courtesy of the taxpayer) and a shutdown factory.

The workers had much the same attitude as you - the wages weren't industry standard and thus had to be rejected, nevermind the fact that we're in a modern day depression in an environment of global wage arbitrage and the industry standard of yesteryear is out the window.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather have $15.50/hr, my bennies, and perhaps a nice bonus after two years as opposed to a $300/wk unemployment check.

"I like the tone of the "blame the worker" argument. Rich corporations are entitled to be cutthroat, while workers who don't accept that are stupid."

This country in stuck in the wake of a financial crisis with 10% unemployment and workers voted their jobs away because they didn't like the pay. The rich corporation, while possibly upset that they didn't close the deal, will be fine. The workers of course will struggle on their unemployment checks. This isn't a morality tale - this is just how things are right now.

As long as this type of mentality continues, jobs will continue to be lost regardless of what bill passes Congress.

"The reality is that all these things are negotiable."

The reality is that these workers are out of a job.

Posted by: justin84 | September 28, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"But if you're content with losing so long as you get to message, why not choose something that will actually excite a few people?"

Because Obama is above such things! He's "changing the way Washington works"! It's time to get past the old battles between left and right! He's pragmatic, not (shudder) idealistic!

Posted by: B405 | September 28, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

"I actually think it's pretty clever: Although most analysis I've seen suggests that Tea Partyers themselves tend to more affluent than the median voter, surely protectionist resentment of Big Capital is not an unknown emotion among this cohort."

I'm sorry--do you REALLY think there is a snowball's chance in Hell of the Democrats getting a noticeable amount of support from Teabaggers? And even if they do, wouldn't the same amount of effort (intelligently directed) get much more support from Democratic voters?

Sheesh.

Posted by: B405 | September 28, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Americans, WE can STOP the hostile takeover of the United States by Greedy Corporations. How?

Get rid of their enablers. The NAY voting US Senators who vetoed S.3816, Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act

Vote out EVERY corrupt NAY voting politician of EVERY party

Find out which Senators in YOUR district support Corporate Greed, NOT people in need by checking the Senate Roll Call Vote here

http://tinyurl.com/vote-them-out

We live in the United States of America, NOT the United States of Microsoft, India or China.

Send FAT CAT Senators who chose to represent their corporate benefactors, not the people who elected them home - let them personally experience unemployment

Posted by: ReplacedbyH1b | September 28, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, we are finding that US business - trying to maintain some ability to innovative in the fiercely competitive global environment - will explore (whether outwardly or through back-channels) the value of offshoring.
The evaluation of investment and sourcing location transcends boundaries - and in this report from KPMG - there are plenty of good "deals" in Canada and Mexico.
http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/north-america-outsourcing-5482/5482/

Posted by: NSAmericas | September 29, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

How is trying to stop the continuing theft of American jobs in order to further enrich a small segment of already obscenely rich people playing "small ball?" I would like people like Ezra Klein to come out and say whether they think so-called off-shoring is good or bad for the American economy and the American people as a whole. What good comes for the American people from this practice? If Klein thinks off-shoring is bad, what would he do about it? Offshoring is not some natural, unstoppable disaster, like a tsunami. It has developed as the result of many conscious decisions made by our elected representatives under the direct influence of the rich SOB's who benefit from this. The Democrats could ride this truly Populist issue to electoral success, but they won't because they're addicted to that corporate cash, almost as much as the Republicans. The people have nowhere to turn on this issue.

Posted by: ejs2 | September 29, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

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