MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Mitt Romney's calculation that under his stewardship, the private equity firm Bain Capital helped create more than 100,000 jobs has undergone extensive scrutiny from opponents and fact-checkers alike. The general consensus is that the number is either inflated or based on questionable estimates.
That hasn't stopped the Romney campaign from repeating it. "If you just look at some of the Bain startups, like Sports Authority, Staples, Bright Horizons, the job number you come up with is in excess of 100,000," Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom explained after last Saturday night's debate. "Now, there are about four or five companies that experienced job losses that get written about endlessly. Take those job loss numbers, add them up and deduct them from the gross number. You still come up with 100,000 jobs created."
But what if those jobs weren't all American jobs?
The theory that Romney's campaign is counting outsourced jobs among the 100,000 has been pushed privately by some of his critics. Bain & Company, the consulting firm where Romney worked prior to helping lead its private equity spinoff, doesn't disguise the fact that outsourcing is part of its consulting portfolio. Currently on its website, Bain has a section about strategies behind the outsourcing of information technology work.
We help clients ensure that IT offshoring and outsourcing decisions are based on business strategy and help set up deal structures, capability networks and sourcing agreements to deliver enduring results -- lower costs now and flexibility for the future.
Strategic sourcing is the process by which organizations determine how to access the right IT and business capability at the right cost. Sourcing must be managed effectively across the four key dimensions of management, resources, services and business processes.
Outsourcing of IT or business processes is just one option of sourcing strategies, often unleashing tremendous value. With strategic sourcing, Bain can enable clients to ensure sourcing decisions are based on business strategy and to help set up sourcing agreements to deliver value now and flexibility for the future.
Meanwhile, as BuzzFeed reminded voters on Tuesday, Bain Capital was outsourcing Massachusetts jobs while Romney was in the midst of his 2002 gubernatorial campaign.
Back then, the revelation obviously didn't turn out to be debilitating. Romney ended up winning the governor's chair. But in a Republican presidential primary today, it stands to reason that going after Bain for outsourcing may be more effective than attacking the private equity business overall, as several GOP candidates have. The latter opens up candidates to charges of being anti-capitalist. The former plays to a type of economic nationalism that animates voters of all stripes. Top union officials spent the 2010 midterm elections urging Democratic lawmakers to make outsourcing a major campaign theme. It wasn't. On Wednesday, however, President Barack Obama is hosting an "Insourcing American Jobs" summit at the White House.
An email to Fehrnstrom asking whether Romney was counting outsourced jobs among the 100,000 was not immediately returned.