Romney’s Independence Day Advice: Buy Foreign

Leo Gerard

America commemorates its Independence Day this week with food, festivity and fireworks. To supply these events, Mitt Romney recommends: Buy foreign.

Americans naturally think the patriotic choice would be to buy American. But for Romney, capitalism trumps patriotism. Romney goes where the money is. He made big bucks as CEO of Bain Capital by investing in a series of companies that specialized in shipping American jobs off shore. For him, it’s fine to kill an American job as long as he can make a buck on it.

Americans must decide then. Do they pledge allegiance to money-grubbing? Or do they pledge allegiance to the United States of America? If it’s the United States, then on this Independence Day, demonstrate patriotic pride by deliberately buying American. Search for that “Made in USA” label. Pick the product that will create American jobs, the one that is an investment in an American company and the American economy.

Romney’s decisions over his business and political career clearly illustrate that for him the most important symbol isn’t the American flag. It’s the almighty dollar. As the CEO of Bain Capital, he could have invested in any sort of company. He chose several that helped corporations move or expand off shore. In fact, Romney was, as the Washington Post put it, a pioneer in this area.

Romney took that “buy foreign” philosophy with him to the Massachusetts governor’s mansion. There he specifically permitted state contractors to move work overseas. He vetoed legislation to forbid the practice. Romney thwarted lawmakers’ attempt to stop a contractor from using state tax dollars to move work from America to India and Bangladesh. As a result, unemployed Massachusetts residents who called the state government for information on food stamps got connected to foreign nationals performing jobs that unemployed Americans could have had.

Some American CEOs deliberately do the opposite of Romney. They find ways to buy American. Iconic American companies Starbucks and Google are examples. Last week, Google released a wireless home media player, the Nexus Q, that is made in America. The New York Times said “the most intriguing feature” of the player is the inscription on the bottom: “Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.” It’s fascinating, the Times explained, because:

“It has become accepted wisdom that consumer electronics products can no longer be made in the United States.”

Google, always an innovator, decided that accepted wasn’t wise. Starbucks did too.

Starbucks stopped buying its mugs overseas. It located a tiny pottery manufacturer in Ohio and gave the business to that firm – American Mug and Stein Co. As a result, American Mug added eight workers. That’s how American jobs are created: one American Mug at a time.

The mugs are part of Starbucks’ Indivisible project. The sale of Indivisible merchandise supports the Starbucks “Create Jobs for USA Fund,” which helps small businesses.

Similarly, last month, Starbucks decided to build a factory in Augusta, Ga., to make its Via instant coffee and ingredients for its Frappuccino drinks. That will create 140 American jobs.

Later this month, Congress is scheduled to vote on two measures that would, like Starbucks and Google, create American jobs. One is the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would end tax loopholes that, inexplicably, reward companies for firing Americans and moving their jobs overseas. At the same time, the Bring Jobs Home Act would give tax credits to companies that shift work from overseas back to the United States.

The other measure is the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act. It would prohibit federal grants and tax breaks to companies that send call center jobs overseas. It also would require those firms to tell customers where their calls are being directed and provide the option of a U.S. call center. This would prevent companies from getting millions in tax subsidies based on promises of U.S. call center employment that are quickly broken when the centers lay off the American workers and move their jobs overseas.

Romney does not approve of the Bring Jobs Home Act. That’s clear from the pledge he signed with Washington lobbyist Grover Norquist to protect tax loopholes. In fact, Romney would go further to encourage companies to offshore manufacturing and jobs. He promised to eliminate all taxes on foreign profits.

But then, Romney’s a quarter billionaire who owns a $100,000 horse and installed a car elevator in one of his mansions. To him, it’s all about profit and not at all about patriotism.

To working people, however, the Bring Jobs Home Act and the call center act make sense. Working Americans don’t want to pay corporations to move jobs overseas. American taxpayers don’t want to subsidize call centers that quickly close American operations and offshore the jobs

So on this July 4, tell your Congressman to vote for these two proposed laws, then buy American-made American flags; red, white and blue American-made pinwheels, and American-made baseball bats for the backyard game.

ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer makes buying American easy by listing American-made products by state.

And, of course, buy American-made sparklers to celebrate. There’s still one company manufacturing them in the United States. It’s Diamond Sparklers in Youngstown, Ohio. Phantom Fireworks stores stock them.

America just isn’t independent if it’s dependent on foreign manufacturers for its Independence Day celebrations.

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