This summer is turning out to be a period of mindless statements and demands. Witness comparing the villain in the newest Batman movie to Bain Capital because the villain’s name is Bane and then suggesting that the president and vice president are the dynamic duo, which is clever but demeaning. Congressional Republicans and Democrats play a game of chicken with the tax code and the economy and politicians’ unrelentingly demonize corporations and diminish the accomplishments of entrepreneurs.
However, nothing tops the Senate majority leader, who, upon learning that the U.S. Olympic team uniforms were made in China, wanted to institute a pre-Olympic bonfire fueled by the uniforms a few days before our team left for London. Senator, what would the team wear? Just imagine how great our team would look in front of the world in cut-offs and flip flops. But why stop there? Let’s destroy the team’s running shoes, track equipment, swim attire, rifles and bows and arrows—most of which is manufactured outside of the United States. Outsourcing has now become this year’s sound bite.
Many of you are probably reading this on a computer or mobile device. Think about where that device was assembled. Then ask yourself if you care where it was manufactured or where it was developed.
Like it or not, our economy is global. Some places with a lower cost of living will always provide cheaper labor, but we have the talent that will continue to design the wondrous things the other parts of the world assembles. We need to focus on the development of new products and innovations, and let someone else put them together. The additional profits made by this approach will grow businesses in the United States and, in turn, create more and better jobs.
Last September, I wrote a column titled “A Modest Proposal,” in which I discussed the need to train and educate people for the 21st century. I suggested that repatriating offshore corporate accounts (now approaching $2 trillion) at lower tax rates, as long as a portion of the funds are used to train and educate many out-of-work individuals so they can be groomed for jobs that need skilled applicants.
The repatriated funds could also be used to provide scholarships for talented students interested in the sciences and engineering. A student who applies for a scholarship will be obligated to work for the sponsoring corporation for four years after graduating. This seems to work well right now—just look at our four major military academies.
I mentioned this approach to a key member of the House and was told that we need to overhaul the tax code first. Why? We need something to happen now, or 8.2 percent unemployment will be the new normal. This is unacceptable.
Companies with offshore accounts need to tell Congress, “Let’s get together in a nonpartisan way and get this done on behalf of all of America.”
When the world gathers in London, remember that we are a global family. Outsourcing will continue, but if the United States is ahead in innovating new concepts and designs created by people trained and educated here, we won’t care where or who puts the pieces together.