President Bush's political advisers should be cringing over today's headlines about its annual economics report, which includes a section praising "outsourcing" and its benefits for the economy. Here's a collection:
The Los Angeles Times: "Bush Supports Shift of Jobs Overseas."
The Seattle Times: "Bush Report: Sending jobs overseas helps U.S."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Bush Economic Report Praises 'Outsourcing' Jobs."
The Orlando Sentinel: "Bush Says Sending Jobs Abroad Can be Beneficial."
The Seattle paper's opening paragraph says it all: "The movement of American factory jobs and white-collar work to other countries is part of a positive transformation that will enrich the U.S. economy over time, even if it causes short-term pain and dislocation, the Bush administration said yesterday."
An Indian newspaper also picked up the Bush report, explaining how the American president sees sending U.S. jobs there a "win-win" for both countries. The chair of the president's council of economic advisers, the Indian paper said, "made it clear that it makes no difference whether outsourcing in India, for example, is in comparatively low-skilled jobs or high-skilled jobs, say radiology. If India has a comparative advantage in radiology and the services of radiologists can be transferred over Internet or fibre optics, fewer radiologists would be employed in the US. But American healthcare services will become cheaper and doctors will specialise in other skills."
That's not a position the president is going to want to promote on the stump, unless he'd like to lose the votes of millions of American workers. No surprise that yesterday, when Bush spoke about jobs at SRC Automotive in Springfield, Mo., he did not attempt to explain the benefits of sending all manner of American jobs over fiber optic cables to Bombay.
You can bet, though, that Bush will be asked to defend his economic report someday soon. Already, reaction has been harsh. "It's a kind of flip thing to say when people are losing their jobs," Franklin J. Vargo, vice president of international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers, a group that has strongly supported the president, told the Washington Post.
And Democratic candidates flamed the Bush report, including its prediction that 2.6 million jobs will be created in 2004. "I've got a feeling this report was prepared by the same people who brought us the intelligence on Iraq," John Kerry said. "I don't think we need a new report about jobs in America. I think we need a new president who's going to create jobs in America."
John Edwards said it would come as a "news bulletin" to the American people that the outsourcing of jobs overseas is good for the country. "These people," he said of the Bush administration, "what planet do they live on? They are so out of touch."