Politics and Public Opinion, Elections

Campaign absurdities: Jeeps ‘made in China’

Image Credit: Autoviva.com  (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Image Credit: Autoviva.com (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

In this campaign, economic “truthiness” has long since disappeared. The latest evidence of this is the flap over Governor Romney’s claim on the campaign trail and in ads running in Ohio that Chrysler is planning to ship jobs to China by opening a plant to make Jeeps in that country. Another ad makes a similar claim for General Motors. This produced sharp rejoinders from GM and Chrysler, and earned Romney four Pinocchios from the Washington Post’s factchecker, Glenn Kessler. My cynical side mainly deplores the ineptitude of Romney’s timing: He should have waited until later in the week before the election in order to avoid the blowback from the Obama team and zealous factcheckers.

But more seriously, there is a depressing, deeper irony in all of this. On the one hand, Romney long ago should have stepped up to the plate with a full-throated defense of offshoring/ outsourcing as a key element of the competitiveness of US (and other nations’) corporations—and ultimately as a force for generating additional jobs back in the US. These ads undercut the larger economic message on the imperatives of global competition his campaign has fitfully attempted to mount.

But not to fear. Help has come from an unlikely source: The eye-opening defense of Chrysler and GM mounted by Obama’s surrogates. Last evening on the Chris Matthews show (I know, hardly the place for economic wisdom or even literacy), Matthews and Steven Rattner (backed by NY Times reporter Bill Vlasic) ridiculed Romney by pointing out that offshoring/outsourcing by corporations was a positive good for the US in that in today’s global economy, in order to survive and succeed, US corporations had to produce their products in the markets they wanted to serve.

Rattner stated that this is a basic fact of life for the automobile industry. Jeeps made in China would feed a growing Chinese consumer demand for this iconic car, and would not come back to the US. This basic fact flies in the face of Obama dogma, which largely equates foreign investment by US corporations as the work of “Benedict Arnolds,” as John Kerry asserted in 2004.

I suppose it’s too late to demand that the Obama guys pull down all those ads condemning Romney as the “Outsourcer-in-Chief”; but maybe the Romney team can quickly flood a few Ohio TV markets with the “Rattner defense.”

4 thoughts on “Campaign absurdities: Jeeps ‘made in China’

  1. GM took $50 billion in taxpayer dollars and got its balance sheet cleansed. So what did we get in return?

    GM now builds and sells more cars in China, and hires more folks in China, than it does in the USA. GM has tax-loss carry-forwards that last for years–it pays no taxes. And its stock has to hit $53 (GM is in the low 20s) for us taxpayers to break-even on its bailout. GM is still losing market share and it shut down the production of it taxpayer-subsidized Chevy Volt.

    GM remains the poster boy for failure–it pays no taxes, owes billions of dollars to us taxpayers and set up shop elsewhere–not the USA. Its a welfare company.

    Let’s face it folks, Obama F’ed America bigtime.

  2. Again, we are handed nonsense by this site masquerading as business aptitude. You AEI people are clueless. A bunch of liars, or idiots. There’s no middle choice.

    it’s one thing for a U.S. manufacturer to build products overseas for the market they wish to serve. Hyundai, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Nissan and others have done precisely the same thing here, building plants throughout the US. Concurrently, they maintain production facilities in their native lands to service their domestic markets.

    It’s quite another matter when a firm closes up shop, fires it’s workers, and moves its entire production apparatus overseas to support US consumption. Of course, the author pretends that this “outsourcing” is the same thing as an American firm operating a factory overseas to cater to the needs of a specific market. If the author knew what he was talking about, he would know that Chinese Buicks, which are quite popular, have little in common with their Detroit brethren.

    American production overseas is a welcome return of something the US has been losing over the years: international market dominance. When Kodak film could be found in the most remote places in the world, you can bet the Kodachrome you bought in Asia or Europe was not made in Rochester. Chevrolet is now the #1 auto nameplate in the world, and we should be proud of that accomplishment.

    This article is so infantile and dishonest, I can scarcely understand why anyone takes the AEI seriously as a proponent of market capitalism, American industry, or just business in general: these hired scribblers know little of any of this. I mean they have a genuine lack of knowledge of the real business world.

  3. So where did the taxpayer bailout billions go and who benefited?




    This doesn’t look like an all-American list to me; it looks like a global bailout. Had we let the first two cripples fail and then disappear, their production capacity and employees would have long ago been absorbed by the many successful and profitable transplants located right here in the USA–Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Hyundai, BMW, Subaru, etc.

    When you keep inefficient and uneconomic production capacity alive and on life support, you destroy the pricing and profit structure of the entire industry and discourage expansion, new jobs and related incomes.

    The “illusion” of rescue will disappear over time as the parasite companies slowly suck the life-blood out of their successful competitors. GM and Chrysler are losing market share and they will revisit Chapter II again. Market solutions can only postponed–they can never be avoided.

  4. Just a note here: Mr. Barfield’s CV shows that he was a professor in Munich in 1968 and 1969. This is the home of Bavarian Motor Works, or BMW. They also have a successful plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    I wonder what the old gent would think of BMW cutting all European production, and moving it lock, stock and barrel overseas?

    Care to comment, Mr. Barfield? Or can we chalk up your silence to another pathetic AEI screed we can easily dismiss as twaddle?

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