Will President Obama take my job away?
January 27, 2008 9:29 PM   Subscribe

What would an Obama Presidency mean for the business process outsourcing industry?

I work for a company that creates marketing materials for US clients. A growing number of my countrymen also work for call centers that do a lot of business with US companies. Barack Obama hinted in his SC victory speech that he would bring back jobs outsourced abroad. What does that mean for my company and its employees?

Has he made any concrete policy positions that would deal with business process outsourcing in particular?

I was impressed by Obama's SC victory speech, but I couldn't help but wonder if I was cheering for someone who would make life very difficult for my employers (and me) in the near future.
posted by micketymoc to Law & Government (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Without taking too much for granted, it is safe to say that no single president will be able to forestall outsourcing or globalization generally. The benefit to American consumers is so great that any president that tried would be incredibly unpopular. Without "outsourcing", most goods and services we Americans hold dear would become too expensive.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:37 PM on January 27, 2008

This is boarder line chat filter and any response is going to be pure speculation.

However, from a policy standpoint statements made by pols (particularly victory speeches and other "unofficial" statements) are largely meaningless. Obama is speaking to a particular theoretical constituent, someone who has different interests than you. Will that translate into a fully realized policy tact in the future which will harm or help you? Probably not. Politics and policy don't work that way.
posted by wfrgms at 9:40 PM on January 27, 2008

No, he has not made any concrete policy positions that would deal with business process outsourcing.
posted by rhizome at 9:59 PM on January 27, 2008

And what politician follows through on campaign promises anyway? Sure, they have platforms and issues on broad things, but "the business process outsourcing industry?" Kind of specific.
posted by gramcracker at 10:27 PM on January 27, 2008

While none get too specific, the generally vague line popular among Democratic pols (I'm sure if you search Obama transcripts, you can find him saying something similar) is that they'll stop "subsidizing" outsourcing. They claim that right now the US tax code gives incentives to companies who outsource. They claim they will get rid of such incentives (arguing for a "neutral" playing field). They don't want to seem anti-globalization or overtly protectionist, but they don't want the government involved in hastening the loss of American jobs to foreigners.

If such incentives do exist and were repealed, it would only slow (if that) the expanding outsourcing/globalization movements. An Indian call center might take two years to double its number of employees instead of one. If a Democratic president had a completely cooperative legislature and no opposition, maybe he or she could even get government subsidies to American businesses to keep some jobs here. Even that's a long shot, though, and would have minimal effect.

To those in other countries making money off Americans, your current jobs are safe, as are growth perspectives. Maybe not as off-the-charts great as they seemed three years ago, but you're still sitting pretty.
posted by aswego at 10:33 PM on January 27, 2008

Aswego is correct, from my understanding of the position.
posted by Pants! at 2:52 AM on January 28, 2008

Yeah, he didn't say he would get rid of outsourcing, just that we shouldn't have "tax breaks" on outsourced labor. But I'm not sure how you would enforce that, but basically it would mean that outsourced work would be taxed the same way American labor is taxed.
posted by delmoi at 11:07 AM on January 28, 2008

Outside the US you may not be aware of the context in South Carolina, which used to have a thriving textile industry. Many of those mills have closed in the face of lower-cost foreign competition. In his speech, this passage comes in the example of a Maytag worker (who assembles washing machines) losing his job because the factory shut down and working for a lower wage at Wal-Mart instead. Obama is speaking here to organized labor and other Democratic constituencies who have lost or fear losing high-wage factory jobs. It doesn't have anything to do with call centers, which typically were low-wage job in the US even before they went overseas.
posted by Robert Angelo at 12:19 PM on January 28, 2008

And whoever the president is, they will have little actual control over such things. Congress makes the laws. The president can certainly affect the tone and content of discourse, but he can't make changes like that without getting some laws changed.
posted by gjc at 7:50 PM on January 28, 2008

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