THE BLOG
11/19/2014 01:03 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2015

Hilary's Biggest Challenge Isn't Just Bill's Outsourcing Record, It's Hers

Days after Republicans feasted on her claim that corporations don't create jobs, Hillary Clinton tried to "be absolutely clear about what I've been saying for a couple of decades. Our economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in America, not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas."

How odd that she's opposing outsourcing when it most likely was her husband's most significant undertaking while POTUS -- along with participating in the deregulation of Wall Street.

As Economic Policy Institute founder Jeff Faux observed in a recent post, New Year's Day 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which "opened the door through which American workers were shoved, unprepared, into a brutal global competition for jobs that has cut their living standards and is destroying their future."

Remember back in 1996 when that quirky independent presidential candidate Ross Perot warned of a "giant sucking sound" to Mexico that would drain the country of American jobs if NAFTA were passed? While Clinton promised that the deal would bring "good-paying American jobs," NAFTA cost the U.S. a loss of 700,000 jobs.

Clinton went on to outsource jobs to China, says Faux. "Clinton and his Republican successor, George Bush II, then used the NAFTA template to design the World Trade Organization, more than a dozen bilateral trade treaties, and the deal that opened the American market to China -- which alone has cost the U.S. another net 2.7 million jobs. The result has been 20 years of relentless outsourcing of jobs and technology."

As Richard McCormack observed in the American Prospect, between 2001 and 2009 the U.S. lost 42,400 factories and 32 percent of all manufacturing jobs -- a devastating drop that the "lamestream media" has failed to cover. The last time fewer than 12 million people worked in the manufacturing sector was in 1941.

And it's not just the future of blue-collar factory jobs that's at stake. Between 30 million and 40 million high-end U.S. service sector jobs could be outsourced, according to Alan Blinder, former vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Fed and a member of Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers.

Given Bill Clinton's track record, it's not surprising that in 2012 when President Obama took on Mitt Romney's outsourcing record as head of Bain Capital Clinton told Obama to "back off Bain," praising Romney's "sterling business career."

China's meteoric rise has been astounding; at the same time it surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest export nation in 2004, only five years earlier the U.S. exported double the amount China did.

In September of this year imports from China rose 13 percent to an all-time high, and the trade deficit hit $35.6 billion, also a record, thanks largely to iPhone sales.

Today Apple is the biggest company in the U.S. but employs fewer than 50,000 employees here and more than 700,000 abroad. (An Apple spokesman told me Apple employs around 72,000 people in the U.S. and only around 36,000 work for overseas companies such as Foxconn but neither he or his colleagues appear to have corrected multiple articles putting the estimate at 700,000 or higher.) Compare these figures to 1955 when GM was the largest company, with more than 475,000 employees and only around 75,000 employed by overseas contractors.

What's more, Hillary's own track record while senator from New York flies in the face of her posturing on outsourcing. Among labor officials, a nagging question about her commitment to protecting U.S. jobs stemmed from a deal she helped broker for Tata Consultancy Services, one of India's largest technology firms. Clinton aides said she has raised more than $2 million in contributions at Indian-American events.

In 2002, Clinton helped Tata land an agreement to open an office in Buffalo and to create at least 100 jobs in the depressed community. But five years later Tata employed just 10 workers there. Tata is one of the largest users of the temporary worker visas that have allowed U.S. technology companies to fill jobs with high-skilled lower-paid Indian workers.

"The India issue is still something people are concerned about," AFL-CIO policy director Thea Lee told the Washington Post. "Her financial relationship, her quotes -- they have both gotten attention."

While Republicans may contend that most Americans support outsourcing because it's "free enterprise," a recent survey by Consumer Reports showed that 78 percent of Americans would rather buy an American product than an identical one made abroad. More than 80 percent of those people cited keeping American manufacturing strong in the global economy as very important reasons for buying American.

Bottom line: electing a DINO president in 2016 is risky, given that the future of work is at stake.