Lauding defeat of US anti-outsourcing bill premature
The Senate might have quashed Democrat plans to force U.S. firms to produce jobs and profits at home, rather than overseas, but India Inc is wrong to think the danger has passed.
Over the past few weeks, India’s newspapers have been littered with stories surrounding U.S. President Barack Obama’s comments on curbing outsourcing, and India Inc’s gross indignation at the White House’s intentions.
No surprise, then, to see bullish headlines following the Senate vote that effectively ended legislation dubbed the Creating American Jobs and End Offshoring Act. ‘India Inc cheers defeat of anti-outsourcing bill in US‘, ran one leading daily, while another led with ‘Anti-outsourcing Bill dies a quiet death in the US‘. Death is wide of the mark.
With the crucial November mid-term elections looming, the biggest issue for U.S. voters is the economy, with many angry that the lauded economic stimulus Bill passed last year has not prevented the unemployment rate rising above 10 percent. The ball is in Obama’s court, and if he can’t rectify the situation, the Democrats will likely suffer at the hands of the electorate in two months’ time.
Thus for the Republicans — who if in power would surely be contemplating similar anti-outsourcing legislation to appease angry voters seeing jobs flourish in Bangalore instead of Baltimore — the goal is to show Obama and the Democrats as an incapable party, unable to govern and unable to fix the problems. And that means blocking legislation.
The Senate voted 53-45 for the bill, far short the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, with four Democrats crossing the aisle. Democrats portrayed the Republicans as “job-killers” afterwards, but no political analyst would deny that Republicans play the patriot card far more often than their opponents.
This wasn’t all about jobs, it was also about politics. And that’s why India Inc is not out of the woods yet.
After November, when the dust settles and – most likely – Obama faces a Clinton-like situation of governing over a split legislature for the remainder of his term, the public will demand political compromise to improve the economy.
Then, with far less gains to be had in playing politics, and the rise of the far-right Tea Party to counter, both sides may well favour a bill that protects American jobs at the expense of those elsewhere.