Group That Attacked Bill Halter For Outsourcing Supports Outsourcing

May 04, 2010 2:09 pm ET — Walid Zafar

The US Chamber of Commerce has long supported the practice of outsourcing American jobs overseas.  As Tom Donohue, the Chamber's president, put it several years ago, "there are legitimate values in outsourcing -- not only jobs, but work -- to gain technical experience and benefit we don't have here, to lower the price of products, which means more and more of them are brought into the United States."

So it makes very little sense when one of the group's affiliates, the Virginia-based Americans for Job Security, goes on the attack and accuses someone who sat on the board of a company that set up shop overseas, of supporting outsourcing.  (The group spun off from another group, Americans Working for Real Change, which was formed by the Chamber.)

Americans for Job Security recently launched a blatantly racist political ad -- which reportedly cost the group $900,000 -- going after Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who is challenging Sen. Blanche Lincoln, in the Democratic primary for the Senate.  In the ad, actors posing as Indians thank Halter for outsourcing American jobs to Bangalore, India. 

Not only is the ad tinged with racism, but as the Associated Press reports, the claim is completely without merit:  "Although the company said it saved costs by opening a Bangalore office, there is no evidence that it cut American jobs to do so." 

Some interesting things to point out, however.  Americans for Job Security is registered as a 501(c)(6) -- which includes trade associations.  As Public Citizen has pointed out, 501(c)(6)'s are "prohibited from engaging in efforts to influence elections as their primary purpose."  But that seems to be all they do. 

The Chamber is also a 501(c)(6) and equally political.  They played an instrumental role in Sen. Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts and have pledged millions of dollars to get Republicans elected in November's midterm election.

Furthermore, Americans for Job Security got $1 million in seed money from the American Insurance Association.  AIA, itself a trade association, represents "approximately 300 insurers."  Outsourcing, of course, is part and parcel of the insurance industry.  It's likely that at least one of the group's 300 members outsources jobs overseas.  Since Americans for Job Security will not release information on its funders, it's not clear how many of its members themselves outsource jobs overseas. 

The practice of sending jobs abroad, as the quote from Donohue illustrates, is a component of the free-market philosophy the Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Job Security advance.  As Donohue put it, "the benefits of offshoring jobs outweighs the cost."

And that's what makes the race-baiting attack against Halter even more absurd.  Republican-aligned advocacy groups are speciously attacking a Democrat for allegedly supporting something that they themselves endorse.