On Tuesday, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina won the Republican Senate primary in California, setting up a general election matchup between her and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). And it’s becoming clear that a key selling point Fiorina intends to focus on is her time as a chief executive, despite the face that the centerpiece of her tenure — HP’s merger with Compaq — has been described as a “total flop” and “disastrous.”
Yesterday, Fiorina said that “of course” she would still cut 10,000 jobs if she were the HP CEO today, like she did in 2003. Last night, on CNBC, she doubled down, saying that she had to make “tough choices” at HP because “China is fighting for our jobs.” She also claimed that the economic recovery act “has done nothing” for unemployment in California:
We know here in California that the stimulus bill, $800 billion worth of taxpayer money, has done nothing to alleviate the suffering in this state. We have two and half million people out of work here in California, many hundreds of thousands for more than six months and many hundreds of thousands more have quit looking for work altogether. The facts are we’re destroying jobs in this state through bad government policy. During my time at Hewlett Packard, yes, I had to make some tough choices like families and businesses all across California are making tough choices. China is fighting for our jobs. North Carolina fights for our jobs…We know what it takes to create jobs: cut taxes.
CNBC’s Larry Kudlow asked Fiorina if her time at HP qualifies her “to go after the government payrolls…to make the spending cuts in their salaries and their benefits.” Fiorina said “sure.”
Let’s unpack these one at a time. First, Fiorina’s comment shows that she is not backing down from her staunch defense of offshoring American jobs. In fact, she’s fully embracing it! As Zaid Jilani pointed out, she has referred to the practice as “right-shoring” and in 2004 she proclaimed that “there is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore.”
Second, it is not true that the stimulus has done nothing in California, even though that state is undeniably in terrible shape when it comes to the labor market. According to employer reports, more than 70,000 stimulus jobs have been created in the Golden State. Overall, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the recovery act saved or created 2.8 million jobs, and an estimated 3.7 million by September.
Finally, Fiorina is jumping on the bandwagon of right-wing politicians demonizing public employees. And while public employees do, on average, have higher salaries and benefits than private sector workers, it’s because they’re more highly educated and the government doesn’t pay its employees below poverty-line wages (which drags down the private sector average). Once you look at the top-end, public employees make far less than their private sector counterparts. As CAP’s Lawrence Korb and Jacob Stokes pointed out, “this makes sense: why do so many senior officials leave to take lucrative positions at private firms if not for the money?”
And of course, Fiorina’s only real solution to anything is to cut taxes. But that doesn’t do much good for those who are already out of work and have no taxable income, and it doesn’t spur demand that will give businesses more customers and thus a reason to expand.
Before continuing to bash the steps Congress has taken, Fiorina should take a look at Ronald Brownstein’s article noting that, “if the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency.”