Democrats want to tap voter anger over lost jobs

Sen. Boarbara Boxer (AP)

Businessman Randy Altschuler had barely won a Republican primary for Congress when New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop unleashed a television ad christening him an “outsourcing pioneer” who sent jobs overseas while millions of Americans struggle.

“The company is really about Sri Lanka, the Philippines, wherever we could find the best talent,” Altschuler is shown saying in the commercial, while ominous music plays in the background. In case viewers miss the point, an announcer adds that Altschuler “made millions outsourcing jobs.”

The 39-year-old first-time political candidate stands out for having spoken candidly on camera about the benefit of foreign workers. But with Democrats struggling for political traction on the economy in midterm elections, candidates in all regions of the country are accusing Republicans of having personally sent jobs overseas or at least protecting companies that do.

These attacks come when the public seems increasingly disenchanted with the Democrats’ ability to manage the economy, an issue that pervades the midterm elections.

In a recent AP-GfK survey, 46 percent of those surveyed said they trusted Republicans to do a better job of handling the economy, and 41 percent chose the Democrats. As recently as January, Democrats held a nine-point advantage on the issue, and two years ago, support on the economy helped President Barack Obama win the White House.

But a deep recession, followed by a grudging economic recovery, has left unemployment at just under 10 percent nationally and significantly higher in some areas.

In many parts of the country, “people think their jobs have gone overseas with a lot of basis in fact,” says Steve Murphy, a Democratic campaign consultant.

Adds Pete Brodnitz, a Democratic pollster, “People are trying to figure out what happened to our economy and how do we improve our economy,” adding that in their view “you have to get back to policies that really encourage manufacturing in America and making things in America.”

In California, where unemployment stood at 12.3 percent in July, Sen. Barbara Boxer recently began running a commercial that says Republican candidate Carly Fiorina laid off 30,000 workers while she was CEO of computer giant Hewlett-Packard.

“When you’re talking about massive layoffs, which we did, perhaps the work needs to be done somewhere else,” Fiorina says in the ad. The announcer adds, “Fiorina shipped jobs to China, and while Californians lost their jobs, Fiorina tripled her salary, bought a million dollar yacht and five corporate jets.”

In Ohio, where joblessness was most recently calculated at 10.3 percent, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland is wielding a similar club against Republican challenger John Kasich. An ad that started running statewide in late August shows Nilda Ramos of Lorain, Ohio, saying her husband was laid off in 2006 from a job he had held for 22 years at Invacare, a manufacturer of wheelchairs and other medical equipment.

“John Kasich sat on Invacare’s board as a director and signed off on jobs being outsourced and sent to China and Mexico,” she says. “I believe they sent those jobs overseas so they could make more profit.”

Republicans generally respond by pointing out that the economy has deteriorated during Obama’s administration, and by accusing their attackers of supporting job-killing policies in Congress.

“Congressman Tim Bishop needs to stop lying,” said Rob Ryan, a senior communications adviser to Altschuler. “He knows it’s a fact that Randy Altschuler has created well over 700 jobs for hardworking Americans. Tim Bishop is the real outsourcer in this race. He’s voted for the big spending, high taxing, job killing policies” of Obama and the Democratic leaders of Congress.

Andrea Saul, a spokesman for Fiorina, said that in Boxer’s time in Congress, she has “voted for more than $1 trillion in higher taxes on hardworking Americans, championed job-killing legislation that cripples small businesses and voted to increase our debt to historic levels.”

Kasich’s spokesman, Rob Nichols, said that with his ad, “Ted Strickland’s hypocrisy is reaching new heights. After using taxpayers’ money to outsource Ohioans’ jobs to El Salvador and twice voting to give China special trade status, he turns around and makes his fourth negative attack ad about these very same things.” The governor is a former member of Congress.

Several Democrats said they first noticed the potential political significance of job outsourcing for this year’s campaign to fill a vacancy for a House seat in southwestern Pennsylvania.

“We used it very hard and it was very effective,” said Democratic Rep. Mark Critz. His victory in April was widely viewed as a mild upset, and Republicans privately say his opponent responded slowly and ineffectively to the attack.

In the wake of Critz’ election, Democratic campaign committees commissioned surveys to measure the impact of the issue nationally, and have urged individual candidates to incorporate it into their campaigns, according to several officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. They declined to be identified because they said they were not authorized to discuss campaign strategy.

They said the surveys found that an allegation of outsourcing was most effective when leveled against a candidate who had a personal connection to the migration of jobs overseas, as a businessman, for example.

In other cases, including races in Wisconsin, Illinois, Nevada, Virginia and elsewhere, Democrats have seized on a no-tax-increase pledge signed by Republican incumbents or candidates as evidence they want to protect breaks for companies that export jobs.

In still others, the allegation is that a Republican will support a new trade deal that promises to result in the loss of jobs overseas.

In a few cases, Democrats are trying a far softer approach. In the Syracuse, N.Y. area, Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y., has aired a commercial that attacks no one.

Instead, the announcer says, “he wrote the bill that ends tax breaks for outsourcing and gives tax breaks to companies that stay in the U.S.”

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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10 Responses to "Democrats want to tap voter anger over lost jobs"

  1. woody188  September 20, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I really wish I could have heard the answer to this question just to hear the BS pour from the horses mouth!

    Incumbents better watch out judging from this woman’s bold question to the President!

  2. Guardhouse lawyer  September 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    This is Obama’s response, according to the White House:

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think that you describe exactly what is the bedrock of America — a veteran who’s working for veterans, somebody who is a CFO and I am sure knows how to manage their money, have made good decisions. I’m not saying once in a while you don’t want to get a new pair of shoes. So the life you describe — one of responsibility, looking after your family, contributing back to your community — that’s what we want to reward.

    Now, as I said before, times are tough for everybody right now, so I understand your frustration. But I would just — when you say there are things that you’d like to see happen or you’re hoping to see happen that haven’t happened yet, let me just give you a couple of examples.

    I right now have two children — it sounds like you’ve got kids, as well.

    Q Two girls.

    THE PRESIDENT: Two girls. You’re going to be thinking about college soon.

    Q Next year.

    THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Now part of what we did over the last year and a half is to make sure that billions of dollars that were going to subsidize financial service industries under the federal student loan programs are now going to be going directly to students so that millions more students are going to be able to get loans and grants and scholarships to go to college. Now, that’s going to have an impact on a whole bunch of kids out there, including maybe yours.

    If you have a credit card, which I assume, you do –

    Q No.

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, see, now you’re really — now you’ve shown how responsible you are. (Laughter.) But if you have a mortgage or a credit card or any kind of financial dealings out there, as a consequence of the changes we made, the credit card companies can’t increase your interest rate without notifying you, and they can’t increase your interest rate on your previous balances. In terms of getting a mortgage, they — you can’t have a mortgage broker steer you to a mortgage that ultimately is going to cost you more money, because maybe they’re getting a financial incentive to do so. Those things are now against the law. So there are a whole host of protections in there.

    You are a parent who has children — if your child, heaven forbid, had a preexisting condition, before I took office, you were out of luck in terms of being able to get health insurance for that child. Now, insurance companies have to give you health insurance for that child, and by the way, that health insurance can’t drop you if you get sick.

    So there are a whole host of things that we’ve put in place that do make your life better. But the bottom line is if your 401(K) is still down substantially from where it was a while back, if you haven’t seen a raise in a long time, if your home value went down –

    Q Keep going. (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT: — depending on where you live, all those things still make you feel like, gosh, I’m treading water.

    Q Still struggling — that’s right.

    THE PRESIDENT: And so my goal here is not to try to convince you that everything is where it needs to be. It’s not. That’s why I ran for President. But what I am saying is, is that we’re moving in the right direction. And if we are able to keep our eye on our long-term goal — which is making sure that every family out there, if they’re middle class, that they can pay their bills, have the security of health insurance, retire with dignity and respect, send their kids to college; if they’re not yet in the middle class, that there are ladders there to get into the middle class, if people work hard and get an education to apply themselves — that’s our goal. That’s the America we believe in. And I think that we are on track to be able to do that.

    • Carl Nemo  September 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm

      I listened to the President’s response and sure enough he always comes through at what he does best; ie., “slick-talkin’ his way out of a tough situation”. He’s a likeable guy, but in the end all he did was punch the woman’s t.s. card.

      We aren’t all in this together. He’s a “made man” within the corporatist mob that now runs this country. He will never suffer because he will always have the best of the best in terms of a pension, medical care and percs for he and his family courtesy of the American tax debtors who foolishly put him in office. The last I heard it costs the U.S. taxpayer 4.5 million per annum to maintain each former president. That data was from about ten years ago. I’m sure its more now.

      We need to get the government out of our business and lives and if government is to be involved then it should come from the local or lowest levels with the federal government providing for the common defense, border security etc. but as of now they are meddling in every aspect of our lives from womb to tomb along with a crushing wastage of tax revenues and national assets; e.g., our manufacturing base along with a crushing negative balance of trade with other nations.

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Guardhouse lawyer  September 21, 2010 at 7:02 pm

        So how exactly are the state and local governments gonna come up with things like air traffic control, safety standards in the workplace, safety standards for autos, highway administration and standards, weather forecasting, drug safety, environmental protection, disease control, census data which is so vital to our national commerce, control of banks and bankers, consumer protection, and all the other things which, if the Federal Government did not do them, would not get done, to the detriment of each and every one of us?

  3. Carl Nemo  September 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    “etc….” extract from my post

    Thanks GHL for providing more to the list. You are correct that there is a place for national continuity of services that benefit the common good, but they do fail in many areas when it comes to controlling pilferage and wastage of taxpayer revenues. Medicare/caid fraud alone is up to an estimated 40 billion dollars per annum up from about 8 billion a few years back which in itself is horrible. As far as the DOD engaging in the same who knows what the actual figures might be, but surely it dwarfs the aforementioned amount for Medicare/caid fraud.

    Why can’t the states provide medical care for their respective populations without depending on a “Big Brother” government doing so? California, Oregon and Washington have their own state sponsored medical plans for indigent to low income folks on a sliding scale etc. There are county and state hospitals across this nation too that depend solely on state revenues to support them.

    Social Security has turned into a rout due to the fact they allow a host of benefit participants that never paid into the plan period much less paid an amount that in anyway reflects what they are now getting per month as benefits. They allow landed immigrants and refugees from foreign lands to tap into SS funds. If a woman loses her husband and is left with children to raise she can claim SS. There’s also disability being paid from a fund that wasn’t designed to handle such variance in coverage etc.

    Regardless SS was solvent until Lyndon Johnson came up with the idea to pilfer the SS Trust Fund and to pitch Treasury IOU’s into a so-called “lock box” for future redemption in order to help pay for the Nam debacle. Other presidents followed up with such pilferage. This is the first year where SS came up with a shortfall of 28 billion dollars and had to redeem one of the many IOU’s tendered to the plan over the years. Too bad they are being redeemed in the worst of times. On and on this nonsense goes. We have out of control spendthrifts in Congress and there doesn’t seem to be any president with a set of cajones big enough to VETO the garbage legislation passed by our out of control legislative body at the Federal level. We’re being robbed from afar by a coterie of ballot box enfranchised pirates.

    So I’m in agreement with you that there are services that need the Federal umbrella for coordination etc.; but, there’s core rot and decay setting in due to the fact that are simply too many Federal employees not doing their jobs and getting paid handsomely in terms of wages and benefits. The average wage of Federal workers has doubled since 2000 while the private sector is being ravaged by massive unemployment with no hope in sight due to the seeming planned destruction of our manufacturing base due to offshoring, outsourcing and H1-B visas being issued far in excess of the established annual quotas.

    Thanks for your input to the discussion. : )

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. Bogofree  September 22, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Now you did it, Nemo! Out of my slumber thanks to your bring up SS. This is the ultimate Ponzi scheme that Madoff would be proud off. Let’s go to a tale of the tape.

    I have 30 years of qualified earnings under SS and I stopped contributing in 1991. Went into public service. I started collecting off SS 15 years later. I and my employers had contributed a grand total of a bit over 85K. Carry that total out at 5% per years just in the years I was not contributing. Bingo! Over 175K! Now I am not even doing a year by year progression but I once did it and it was well over 350K. What happens to all that money if I died at 61? Gone! What happens if it was in a 401(k)? It goes into my estate.

    My wife collects a public pension. If I drop dead she gets crap from SS but a death benefit of a few hundred. If we both had SS and one dies then only one collects. This program needed a small public option but with the government mentality of “If we can’t touch it you won’t get it” there is a fat chance of that happening.

    The thing is I’ve contributed to a self directed IRA since day one. Four years ago when I retired I stopped. Even in the economic slump of the last two years the earning within this balanced portfolio exceed what I get from SS and I don’t even touch the principal.

    I could go on and on but the bottom line is if you tried to sell a package like SS as part of a financial plan you would get tossed out. .

  5. Guardhouse lawyer  September 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Yes, there are Ponzi aspects to Social Security, but those aspects were not there when SS was started. Also, there is more to SS than just retirement. Included in the premiums you and your employer paid was insurance against death and disability. Had you died or become disabled say two or three years after you started paying into SS, either you or your dependents would have benefited from the premiums you had paid.

    Had you instead stuck the money into an IRA or 401(k) and died or become disabled the same two or three years thereafter you would have had the money that was in the retirement account. Nothing more. TINSTAAFL.

    And the Social Security format would have worked indefinitely had population continued to increase and had death rates not decreased. People are living a lot longer than they did when SS was started. In 1900 a newborn in the US had a life expectancy of 48, as compared to almost 80 today. Easy to see that the amounts paid out to old age survivors was more manageable. As Governor Lamm said many years ago, old people had a duty to die and get out of the way. In the main, our own success at improving longevity is what is making the current SS format unmanageable.

    On top of all that SS was never designed, nor was it touted as, a retirement program. It was a safety net for the aged to supplement what they could not save for themselves during the Depression of the 1930s. It was contemplated then, as it is now, that most people would put away something for the “golden years.”

  6. Bogofree  September 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    GHL

    It is a safety net as you said but the unfortunate thing is it is an end all for some.

    I would like to see a portion of it say just 10% directed into a ROTH style IRA. The primary purpose would be transference of wealth. Many are behind the fiscal eight ball because they do not have this.

    As far as the scenario on disability and death that is handled through the relatively inexpensive cost of term LI and disability. Also that scenario is a tiny percentage. Good financial planning is all one needs.

  7. Bogofree  September 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Forgot to include in previous post. Great book on SS is “How SS Picks Your Pocket.” I also left out in regards to GHL that if I died after a few years I would still have spouse and kids collect from SS. I did not wish to terminate the system. In 1935 it was great. In 1955 it was great. In 2010 it is worn, dated, and in dire need of an overhaul.

    Sorry for the omission.

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