Having It Both Ways

Several Democrats and a few Republicans lined up to attack the White House last week because of a comment from a key economic adviser to President Bush who said shipping some jobs overseas would be good for the U.S. economy in the long run. Leading the way was John Kerry, who said his economic policy would be “not to export American jobs but to reward companies for creating and keeping jobs in America.”

Odd, wasn’t Kerry one of the 513 lawmakers who helped pass a bill last fall (in a single day!) to give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to establish a national do-not-call registry without even considering the economic impact it would have? Didn’t Bush ignore the warnings that thousands of Americans would lose their jobs because of this legislation and sign it into law in some big White House ceremony a day or two later?

For much of last week, White House officials stood behind the comment made by Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, but Bush finally caved on Thursday, saying: “There are people looking for work because jobs have gone overseas. And we need to act in this country. We need to act to make sure there are more jobs at home and people are more likely to retain a job.”

Lawmakers are doing all sorts of things to show their concern, too. A few states have discussed legislation that would make it more costly for companies to use overseas call centers. Last week, Sens. Tom Daschle and Edward Kennedy proposed legislation that would require outsourcing companies to tell employees and the government where the jobs are being sent, how many and why. And Kerry introduced a bill last fall that would make U.S. companies require call center reps to disclose their physical location at the start of each call. “When people pick up the phone they hear people who’ve been trained to speak in an American twang and dialect, so you won’t know where they are,” he said a few weeks ago.

Guys, you have a funny way of showing your support. If you want more jobs to stay on American soil, here’s a thought: Go easier on the laws that make it difficult for companies to stay in business here at home and not have to look overseas to cut costs. Still, I wouldn’t expect anything less from our politicians, who are exempt from the no-call registry. How hypocritical can you get? Though several call centers have blamed the DNC list for having to close down in recent months, we’re nowhere near the 2 million telemarketing job losses that some predicted. But even one job loss is not good in this economy.

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