Outsourcing spat shines light on jobs not created

July 13, 2012
To the oil and gas industry, a political spat over outsourcing must seem especially ironic.

To the oil and gas industry, a political spat over outsourcing must seem especially ironic.

Campaign ads for President Barack Obama have been lashing Republican challenger Mitt Romney for sending jobs overseas from distressed companies managed by Bain Capital, of which the former Massachusetts governor is a cofounder.

“Mitt Romney’s companies were pioneers in outsourcing US jobs to low-wage countries,” declares one recent television spot for Obama.

Romney’s campaign has retaliated by rerunning video of Hillary Clinton, now secretary of state, accusing Obama of dishonesty in her unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

The Romney camp says most outsourcing by Bain companies occurred after he left the investment firm in 1999 to run the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Obama team responds by touting Securities and Exchange Commission documents listing Romney as a Bain executive as late as 2002.

Romney’s campaign manager calls that allegation “over the top” as new ads for the challenger label Obama “outsourcer-in-chief” on the basis of stimulus money invested abroad.

This won’t end until November. The point already is clear, though, that neither side wants its man to be seen as an outsourcer.

Yet if the transport of jobs away from the US is to be treated as villainous, at least equivalent scorn should be reserved for policies that keep jobs from being created in the first place.

Reluctant oil and gas leasing of federal land would fall into this category. So would persistent proposals to raise taxes on oil and gas companies of all sizes in every way possible. Similarly, regulation of hydraulic fracturing on multiple federal fronts promises to retard a drilling surge providing rare gleam to employment indicators otherwise laden with gloom. And who can forget a certain pipeline between Alberta and the US Gulf Coast that should be under construction now but isn’t?

Politics needs a word as snappy as “outsourcing” to describe the deliberate restraint of job creation. “Unsourcing” might work.

(Online July 13, 2012; author’s e-mail: [email protected])

About the Author

Bob Tippee | Editor

Bob Tippee has been chief editor of Oil & Gas Journal since January 1999 and a member of the Journal staff since October 1977. Before joining the magazine, he worked as a reporter at the Tulsa World and served for four years as an officer in the US Air Force. A native of St. Louis, he holds a degree in journalism from the University of Tulsa.