Photo source: CBS News
The Obama campaign ad said, “Mitt Romney’s firms shipped jobs to Mexico. And China.” The Romney campaign's response: an analysis by FactCheck.org that explained the outsourcing of jobs, conducted by firms controlled by Romney’s Bain Capital, took place after he had left the company in 1999 to turn around the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. But since Romney continued to own Bain for another three years, an extremely fruitless debate followed as to what his role was during that period. Accusations that Romney “committed a felony” and that Obama was running a “dishonest campaign” filled the airwaves.
By distancing himself from these decisions, Romney leaves Obama’s premise unchallenged: that outsourcing is bad. Nothing could be further from the truth. Outsourcing, in this context, is just free trade with foreign countries – trade that would not take place unless both countries were better off. As scientist and writer Matt Ridley noted in his book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, “The message from history is so blatantly obvious – that free trade causes mutual prosperity while protectionism causes poverty – that is seems incredible that anybody ever thinks otherwise. There is not a single example of a country opening its borders to trade and ending up poorer.”
The attack on Romney goes to show – yet again – that Obama doesn’t understand where prosperity comes from. Romney missed an opportunity to set him straight.