Republican leaders play role of rally-stoppers on stimulus

You’ve seen it happen in business: The senior staff is brainstorming how to solve a vexing problem or take advantage of a business opportunity. Suddenly, there’s a breakthrough. One person has a game-changing idea that inspires others. All around the conference table staffers are chiming in, fleshing out and expanding upon the new idea. The mood is euphoric.

Until one staffer — the old rally-stopper — lets all the air out of the balloon with a negative comment why the new scheme just might not work. Everyone deflates. Meeting over.

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Government has rally-stoppers, too. Serious rally-stoppers are to be found in the GOP leadership in Congress. Whatever the Democratic proposal to ease our current economic crunch, even if it’s one their own party championed just weeks earlier, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) show up pinch-faced and negative.

When Democrats recently increased the size of the stimulus from $775 billion to $825 billion, Boehner’s reaction was “Oh my God!” This is a man whose party presided over the wildest spending spree and the most disastrous meltdown of our economy in history, turning billions in surplus to trillions in deficits, and he’s shocked, shocked, at such spending!

Then there’s the party ideologues in the South who demonstrated during the Big 3 auto bailout hearings they would rather beat up on unions than help solve the country’s economic problems.

Most Republicans appear ready to join in the bipartisanship Obama has been promoting ever since he won the election. During the inaugural ceremonies, one TV reporter asked Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) about the dinner Obama had just the night before with his election rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Graham was ecstatic. He said Obama’s outreach to McCain for his help sent just the right message that both parties must work together for the good of the nation. “I think Barack can make this work.”

It will be interesting down the pike to see whom voters reward — those officeholders who worked together to solve problems, or the rally-stoppers.

Washington

‘Buy America’ is misguided notion

From Nancy McLernon, president and CEO, Organization for International Investment

Lawmakers may have good intentions pursuing “Buy America” provisions, but they come with unintended consequences: inadvertently hurting American workers, stifling proven job-creation methods and putting domestic companies at risk for retaliation when they go abroad to sell their goods — not to mention, sending the wrong message to a company looking to invest in the United States.

The idea of the American job has changed. Jobs are no longer neatly categorized by country or continent. Steelworkers in Alabama and defense industry employees in Pennsylvania work for companies based in Europe. Cars, trucks and SUVs built in America by Americans are employed by companies from Japan and Germany. The Trader Joe’s where you shop found its origins overseas. And even though the Girl Scout cookies you crave are baked in the United States, the company that makes them is based in Canada. In fact, global companies with U.S. operations have directly “insourced” over 5 million jobs into the United States.

Americans can be put back to work more quickly by encouraging job-creating investment from domestic sources and from other countries. It’s simple: The economy will create jobs at a faster rate if we increase the number of companies operating in the United States.

Insourcing companies sign over $364 billion in paychecks for American workers each year. Statistics show that American employees at these firms receive average compensation of $68,317, which is 32 percent higher than all U.S. companies. A bonus: Manufacturing jobs make up 30 percent of all jobs at U.S. subsidiaries, a stated sector of focus for the Obama administration in its economic recovery plan.

For more than 15 years, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, insourced jobs have been made possible because our government has remained open to international investment. “Buy America” ignores the symbiotic relationship U.S. workers have with globally engaged companies. Even in the most inclement economic conditions, an open door to cross-border investment leads to a steady flow of new jobs. That is what we need right now.

Washington