The middle class, I’m sure you’ve heard, is under threat by cheap foreign labor. We must be having an election soon. President Obama’s assault on Mitt Romney for sending jobs overseas draws from a playbook used repeatedly by politicians of the right and left over the last two decades.
In 1992, Ross Perot ran for president on the strength of the “giant sucking sound” of jobs going to Mexico. Four years later, Pat Buchanan tried to gain the Republican nomination by promising to repeal the North American Free Trade Agreement and withdraw from the World Trade Organization. In 2004, John Kerry accused George W. Bush of providing tax breaks to outsourcers.
What’s most revealing about the political assault on outsourcing is that while the critique of foreign commerce has moved decisively from the fringes into the political mainstream, our political leaders have yet to turn their rhetorical skepticism into policy.