Can Obama shift his off-shoring attack to policy?

posted at 12:41 pm on July 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

If Obama really wants to make his attacks on Mitt Romney stick, he’ll have to show how private-sector business deals from more than a decade ago will impact policy.  Can he do that?  So far, Obama seems incapable of distinguishing between outsourcing and off-shoring, a distinction that reinforces Obama’s unfamiliarity with the business world, but Obama wants to try linking history with policy.  He has already begun, by attacking Mitt Romney’s plan to reform the corporate tax code as a stealth method of rewarding off-shoring:

President Obama put a new spin on his attack on Mitt Romney as an “outsourcer,” citing a new commentary in a campaign speech today that suggests that his rival’s policies will lead to American jobs shifting overseas. …

Speaking at a town hall-style meeting in Cincinnati, Obama referenced the analysis by Reed College columnist Kimberly Clausing in Tax Notes that found Romney’s support for changes in the territorial tax system would “increase employment in low-tax countries by about 800,000 jobs.”

At the heart of the Obama campaign’s argument is Romney’s support for eliminating U.S. taxes on foreign profits by American companies, which it says encourages U.S. companies to move their operations overseas. Clausing, an expert in international taxation, says the policy shift would lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs being shifted to China, India, Canada and other countries.

“There is a new study out by a non-partisan economist that Gov. Romney’s economic plan would in fact create 800,000 jobs,” Obama said. “There’s only one problem. The jobs wouldn’t be in America.”

The GOP jumped all over Obama for referring to Clausing as “non-partisan,” as our own Erika Johnsen did.  Clausing is an Obama ally who has at least a political interest in attacking Romney’s territorial tax plan.  But what about other partisans who work with Obama — specifically, his own advisers?  Jake Tapper reported yesterday that no fewer than three of Obama’s advisory panels backed Romney’s approach over the last two years, and for the exact same reasons:

The president will make the argument today that those overseas jobs would be created at the expense of jobs created in the U.S.

Romney is far from alone in endorsing a territorial tax system, which would allow the profits made by an American corporation in another country to escape U.S. taxation. In fact, a number of advisers to the president support the idea as well – including members of the President’s Export Council, the commission the president set up to recommend ways to reduce the deficit, and members of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

The Export Council was established almost 40 years ago and continues to this day as an established economic advisory panel whose expertise is precisely in this area.  The other two panels — Simpson-Bowles and Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness — were established by Obama specifically to address perceived incompetence on the part of his administration on fiscal and economic policy.  Obama sold these as expert panels whose recommendations would get serious attention, but on both the budget and the corporate tax, Obama has ignored their proposals.

In my column for The Week, I argue that Obama is about to hand Romney a very big bat by attacking a proposal that has been repeatedly made by the President’s hand-picked advisers — especially as polling shows that no one thinks of Obama as anything other than a politician these days:

A new poll on the subject of ethics and business gives even less reason to believe that this strategy will pay dividends. Rasmussensurveyed 1,000 likely voters last Friday and Saturday on whether Mitt Romney’s business record gives voters a reason to vote for or against him. While 74 percent of respondents had followed the debate over Romney’s business dealings somewhat or very closely, the result was a split at 41 percent for voting for or against. Independents narrowly tilted toward support, 40-37, but that is still in the margin of error. Middle-age and senior voters broke more strongly positive, however, 48-39 and 57-31, respectively — which may mean that Team Obama is reinforcing a strong Romney point among the voters most likely to turn out in this election.

On the question of ethics, the news turns even worse for Obama. Slightly more voters see Romney as more ethical than the norm among politicians (27 percent) than there are voters who see him as worse than the norm (25 percent), with 40 percent seeing no real difference. The numbers for Obama go the other direction. Thirty-six percent believe Obama to have worse ethics than the norm, while 32 percent believe Obama to be an improvement, while only 28 percent see him as the norm. That’s a damning indictment for the man who won in 2008 on the platform of hope and change.

Expect a return of the incompetence argument when Obama brings up corporate tax reform:

And what about President Obama’s own Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, formed to enhance common perception about Obama’s economic policies? The panel not only supports the territorial tax plan proposed by Romney, it made the same argument at the end of last year that the lack of such reform kept badly-needed capital overseas — capital that could fuel job creation in the U.S., and protect American firms from foreign takeovers …

Instead of making the case that Romney will increase off-shoring, Obama’s refusal to adopt the territorial tax system that Obama’s own advisers have repeatedly proposed makes the case that Obama can’t grasp the problem at all. Furthermore, if Obama attacks Romney as an “outsourcer” and extremist in economics on this basis, the existence of these proposals within his own administration will deepen the impression that Obama’s ethics make him just another politician willing to say anything to get re-elected, and incompetent on economics to boot. For a candidate whose main campaign promise was to change that very impulse in Washington, and whose economy has gone into serious retreat, that will all but eliminate any argument Obama has for a second term.

What’s more, the strategy risks getting voters interested in the debate as it turns to today’s economy, and not that of 1999.  As one GOP consultant said on Sunday, that will only help Romney:

“You can’t run on biography anymore. That’s Mitt’s weakness, because the ads destroy biography,” Republican consultant Mike Murphy said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It going to come down to a jump ball of who’s got the better forward plan on the economy.”

“I’ll take Romney in that fight,” he added, “but the sooner it starts the better.”

Maybe he should send the White House a thank-you note for accelerating its start.


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This, too, shall backfire on the administration. They should drag out Julia again.

John the Libertarian on July 17, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Without government roads, Mitt could never, er, uh, offshore these jobs?

John the Libertarian on July 17, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Talk about anything but the horrendous economy TFGRP has created, but it won’t save the dog eating fud.

Bishop on July 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

No.

GOPRanknFile on July 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

“You didn’t build that” = “I voted for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.”

Romney has his tag attack line for 2012; will he take it?

aquaviva on July 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Add another one to the “I vote with my pocketbook, and I’m not supporting them….” list.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2012/07/17/Mark-Hamill-Romney-Not-Human

actually, make that two (plus I guess Robert Downey).

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2012/07/14/Whedon-Goes-On-Anti-Capitalist-Rant

Mitt, how do you like being the new SARAH PALIN to the left?

To the left, any republican is Sarah Palin, Ronald Reagan, Robert Bork, Antonin Scalia, etc.

PappyD61 on July 17, 2012 at 12:51 PM

So far, Obama seems incapable of distinguishing between outsourcing and off-shoring

..so far, this putz cannot distinguish between the profits and price: profits to earnings ratio.

The War Planner on July 17, 2012 at 12:51 PM

I argue that Obama is about to hand Romney a very big bat by attacking a proposal that has been repeatedly made by the President’s hand-picked advisers

swing hard Mitt, Out of the ballpark buddy

cmsinaz on July 17, 2012 at 12:52 PM

“You didn’t build that” = “I voted for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.”

Romney has his tag attack line for 2012; will he take it?

aquaviva on July 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM

No, Mitt is saving his $$$$ that we’ve sent him for that period after Labor Day when the DOTUS has already defined him as the evil BANE, and Obama-Biden are the dynamic fricking duo.

Lord have mercy……….MITT YOU’RE SUCKING WIND.

You should be 10 points ahead of the Communist in the Oval office, and you’re fricking 2 points behind any poll?

PappyD61 on July 17, 2012 at 12:53 PM

on top of this, obama has a new ad out asking of mitt paid his taxes….

gets uglier day by day

cmsinaz on July 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM

PappyD61 on July 17, 2012 at 12:51 PM

..Jeeee-zus! Hamil looks like the proverbial three-day-old ham sammich. The years have not been kind to Luke and Princess Lay-ya.

The War Planner on July 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM

It’s exactly what Obama and the leftists want, punish “you, the ‘rich’”.

It’s all by design:

NASA killed, check,

Defense destroyed, check

Jobs destroyed, check

Redistribution, check

To hell with the country, check.

These are charlatanic destroyers of the first degree, theft by thuggery and utter destruction.

Schadenfreude on July 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM

“If you got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” -Barack Obama

No, you built it. True, govt protects the free enterprise system, but beyond that, it was your effort.

anotherJoe on July 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Watch the video – it’s a great shakedown of the leftists’ talking out of both sides of the mouth.

Schadenfreude on July 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM

“Your capital, my profit” — Obama 2012

“Hate and Shame” — Obama 2012

Schadenfreude on July 17, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Simpson-Bowles and Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness — were established by Obama specifically to address perceived incompetence on the part of his administration on fiscal and economic policy. Obama sold these as expert panels whose recommendations would get serious attention, but on both the budget and the corporate tax, Obama has ignored their proposals.

….JugEars didn’t ignore them by himself!…he has had the MEDIA’s help!

KOOLAID2 on July 17, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Just let Obama make a few more speeches, like last Friday’s and grab a domestic beer and enjoy the show.

bflat879 on July 17, 2012 at 1:01 PM

I’m of the opinion that Team Romney is simply gathering these gifts from Obama and storing them up, waiting for August.

Strategically it makes sense to let Team Obama keep flailing. It has paid dividends to date. Time is not on Obama’s side.

The longer Team Obama has been making mistakes and the more the pressure mounts the more frequent those mistakes will become.

Its already been pointed out that Obama has resorted to near hysteria in fallaciously calling Romney a felon and its only July.

I think that the strain of not knowing what tact Team Romney means to take, in or about August, and not being able to devise a strategy for the debates, particularly in regard to who the VP choice is that Biden will be debating, is wearing on Team Obama.

thatsafactjack on July 17, 2012 at 1:10 PM

From what I understand, Obama is now, as he did in 2008, offshoring his campaign to get more money from overseas donors.

Or should that not be mentioned?

Liam on July 17, 2012 at 1:16 PM

Offshoring is evil!1!!!!!!!

What? No – I didn’t pay $4000 for my iPhone.

gwelf on July 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM

thatsafactjack on July 17, 2012 at 1:10 PM

How does that quote go – “if your enemy is busy destroying himself – don’t interfere” or something like that.
I agree and hope that Romney’s team is busy putting the appropriate ads together for an all-out blitz when we get closer to the election.
I don’t really care what the polls say right now – they’ve seldom been an accurate forecast of the actual election.

dentarthurdent on July 17, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Obummer can’t possibly put policy in place that would stop or reduce offshoring – because his answer would be to punish companies. The real answer that would actually work is to reduce the government and union burdens on companies – and they would all flock back to the US.

dentarthurdent on July 17, 2012 at 1:24 PM

What? No – I didn’t pay $4000 for my iPhone.

gwelf on July 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Yes – ever notice that left-leaning Apple is always the libs’ favorite – yet all of their products are made in China?

dentarthurdent on July 17, 2012 at 1:25 PM

From a drudge link about youtube pulling a Romney ad because of “copy right” concerns:

Mitt Romney’s new web video, featuring audio of President Obama singing a few lines from Al Green’s, “Let’s Stay Together,” has been pulled down from YouTube via a copyright claim of BMG Rights Management.

According to a release, the video, titled, “Political Payoffs and Middle Class Layoffs,” used news reports to demonstrate that “[i]nstead of working to restore [our] economic security, President Obama is too busy rewarding his biggest donors.”

Perhaps ironically, BMG and Crown/Random House (which published both of Obama’s books, his campaign plan, and Michelle Obama’s new book) are — despite Obama’s concerns about “outsourcing” — all owned by German conglomerate Bertlesmann AG, which bills itself as “the world’s most international media company.”

So it is interesting that the company that pulled down Romney’s web ad shares a German parent company with Obama’s publisher.

Indeed, Do as I say……..

FlaMurph on July 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Herein lies the crux of it all – Stephen Covey was one of the biggest charlatans in the world.

May he never rest.

Schadenfreude on July 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM

FlaMurph on July 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Interesting that Yahoo pulled Romney’s ad off You Tube… but TODAY got a brand new manager…. a women named MEYER who used to work at Google for 13 years.

She’s considered quite competent, but for some reason had been being essentially pushed back away from the center of power at Google recently. She had been managing the Search division, but had been relegated to the location based unit.

She came aboard proclaiming Yahoo to be great performer… which it was in 1999, but certainly not these days. Also problematic is that she’s about to become a mother for the first time and has said she will be working throughout her maternity leave.

I’m interested to see what becomes of Yahoo under her leadership and what steps she will take to make Yahoo competitive again.

thatsafactjack on July 17, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Yes – ever notice that left-leaning Apple is always the libs’ favorite – yet all of their products are made in China?

dentarthurdent on July 17, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Red herring. I believe your choice in phones is China or Korea. Maybe Malaysia.

When Dingy Harry made his little Olympic uniform rant someone should have asked him where his clothes on his back were made.

slickwillie2001 on July 17, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Are we talking about the same mutt-muncher who gave $ 2Billion ( maybe more) of taxpayer money to Brazil for their deep sea oil industry ? while banning the same in USA ?

burrata on July 17, 2012 at 2:19 PM

slickwillie2001 on July 17, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Ya – I agree – the Dems are trying to throw out any kind of red herring they can to take attention away from their failures.
I buy whatever I need at the best price available – regardless of where it was made. If the government would get off the backs of businesses, we would have more stuff made in the US.

dentarthurdent on July 17, 2012 at 4:11 PM