The Washington Post reported today that Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mitt Romney headed for 15 years, invested extensively in companies that moved jobs overseas to low-wage countries like China. The practice contradicts the rhetoric of candidate Romney, who since announcing his presidential ambitions, has criticized government policies that have led to jobs, particularly those in manufacturing, moving offshore.
Rather than dispute the substance of the article, the Romney campaign has responded to the Post piece by parsing words, claiming that the story is “fundamentally flawed” for not differentiating between the technical definitions of “outsourcing” and “offshoring”:
“This is a fundamentally flawed story that does not differentiate between domestic outsourcing versus offshoring nor versus work done overseas to support U.S. exports. Mitt Romney spent 25 years in the real world economy so he understands why jobs come and they go,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “As president, he will implement policies that make it easier and more attractive for companies to create jobs here at home. President Obama’s attacks on profit and job creators make it less attractive to create jobs in the U.S.”
Technically, the campaign is correct. The official definition of outsourcing is pushing activities outside of the company that could have been performed in-house. A company can outsource, while keeping the activity domestic. Offshoring is the practice of sending jobs overseas.
However, outsourcing is commonly used to describe the practice of moving jobs to foreign countries. But just to be clear, ThinkProgress has changed the text of the Post article so that the proper technical terms are used:
While Bain was not the largest player in the
outsourcingoffshoring field, the private equity firm was involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to this outflow of employment.
Bain played several roles in helping these
outsourcingoffshoring companies, such as investing venture capital so they could grow and providing management and strategic business advice as they navigated this rapidly developing field. […]
According to a news release issued by Modus Media in 1997, its expansion of
outsourcingoffshoring services took place in close consultation with Bain. Terry Leahy, Modus’s chairman and chief executive, was quoted in the release as saying he would be “working closely with Bain on strategic expansion.” At the time, three Bain directors sat on the corporate board of Modus.
This simply doesn’t change the fact that Bain, under Romney, invested in companies whose sole purpose was to move jobs to other countries, directly countering the narrative that Romney has been trying to set.