Sunday, November 4, 2012

GM, Chrysler and Boeing

The latest political scandal is Romney's attempt to blame Barack Obama for GM and Chrysler attempt to drastically increase their facilities outside of US. Italian owned Chrysler is moving its Jeep production to China according to Bloomberg report, while according to Forbes, GM is outsourcing its production to Mexico, Russia, India and China. It was left unsaid that NASA is now outsourcing its manned space program to Russia, while its work is now limited to 3 main tasks (neither of which have anything to do with space). According to the head of NASA:

"When I became the NASA administrator -- or before I became the NASA administrator -- he [Barack Obama] charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering,"

While the Obama's NASA debacle is not talked about much, Romney's comments about Chrysler and GM outsourcing were challenged directly by Obama, his friends in the media as well as GM's and Chrysler's management. The main argument made by Obama, et al was that massive investments overseas by the bailed out car companies did not effect the Americans workers and thus cannot be called "outsourcing".

Yahoo diligently quotes Barack Obama attacking governor Romney:

"When you try to change the facts just because it's convenient to your campaign, that's not change.Trying to massage facts, that's not change," Obama told a lively crowd of about 2,800 supporters here at the Franklin County Fairgrounds.
"We've been seeing this out of Gov. Romney and his friends over the last few weeks right here in Ohio," the president continued. "You've got folks that work at the Jeep plant who've been calling their employers worried, asking, Is it true? Are our jobs being shipped to China? And the reason they're making these calls is because Gov. Romney's been running an ad that says so. They said, That's not true. Everybody knows that's not true. The car companies have told Gov. Romney to knock it off."

One peculiar thing about Obama's defense of GM/Chrysler's outsourcing is its inconsistency with the previous decisions by his administration. Apparently, Obama believes that if a company opens a new factory outside US, and does not cut any facilities in US, then there is no outsourcing. Yet, in 2011, when Boeing decided to extend its manufacturing capabilities to "right of work" South Carolina, and invested there 750 million dollars, the Obama administration immediately filed a lawsuit against Boeing. The reason for this swift action was apparent - Obama-friendly union of Boeing workers was in the middle of negotiations with the Boeing management, and they needed some help from their friend in the White House. And what could be better than a threat by the Labor Department to shut down Boeing's expansion to South Carolina? In the end, under the threat of losing billions of dollars, Boeing offered the unions  much better contract than they could expect otherwise:

On Wednesday night, the union announced that 74 percent of its 31,000 Boeing workers in Washington State had voted to ratify a four-year contract extension that includes substantial raises, unusual job security provisions and a commitment by Boeing to expand aircraft production in the Puget Sound area,”

It's quite clear that Obama and the media would treat an expansion of a private business to other parts of US as "outsourcing" - if such understanding may benefit unions contributing to Obama. And this is a legal decision by the Labor Department, even if the expansion includes the United States territory. But when it concerns the businesses friendly to Barack Obama, then the same theory does not hold water, particularly if it can hurt Obama's chances for reelection.

So, my dear leader, when an Obama supporter asks you about Romney's talk about GM and Chrysler outsourcing, don't forget to mention the curious case of the Boeing corporation.

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