Supporters of DISCLOSE aimed harsh words at significant U.S. employers since the bill's introduction and as a final scare tactic to push the legislation through the House last week. This "Us" vs. "Them" mentality from our elected officials betrays an embarrassing lack of knowledge as to who actually employs their constituents.
The DISCLOSE Act was ostensibly intended to promote greater transparency in the U.S. election system -- a laudable goal. However, far too many Members of Congress used the occasion to brandish an alarmist, "anti-foreign" sentiment that illustrated a gaping disconnect between some U.S. policy makers and the realities of a world marketplace. Five and half million Americans work at the U.S. operations of foreign companies - including a wide variety of familiar brands with long-time commitments to the U.S. economy, such as Siemens, Verizon, Anheuser- Busch, Dove and Nestlé.
According to a prominent supporter of the Bill, "... the American voter doesn't want foreign-controlled corporations dumping millions of dollars into U.S. elections." Absolutely, go ahead and target Hugo Chavez and Chinese government-owned entities, but don't tell the thousands of Americans working for companies like Sodexo and Bayer that they should be lumped into the same category. These Americans do not want Congress to second guess their patriotism. Lumping purely commercial firms of global corporations into the same category as Hugo Chavez is one sure fire way to choke off beneficial worldwide investment from the U.S. economy.
The significant contributions these companies bring to the United States are a result of our government's traditional open investment policies. By law, these companies have the same rights and obligations as any other U.S. corporation. Targeting them as second class businesses creates a climate that the world will see as a disadvantage of investing in our country.
Foreign direct investment in the United States was down 52 percent last year. While you would expect a decline during a recession, it was far more than the decline of U.S. investment abroad. Congressional speechifying on the ignorance of what it takes to create a successful dynamic economy is the last thing our country needs as it continues to work itself out of a downturn. If we want more companies to invest in the United States and insource jobs for Americans, we must promote a competitive, non-discriminatory environment.
If the Bill makes its way to the Senate floor this summer, hopefully cooler heads will prevail. Outdated anti-foreign rhetoric that tries to make distinctions between multinational companies with no differences isn't just disappointing; it's uneducated.