Playing the China Card
Republicans are being hammered by a series of Democrat commercials suggesting that Bain Capital, and Mitt Romney by association, were instrumental in outsourcing jobs to China. At the same time, campaign commercials represent President Obama as the "made in America" candidate. Indeed, Mr. Obama is cast as the savior of General Motors (GM) and thousands of American jobs. These are just two of the stereotypes of the 2012 campaign to date, neither of which stands up to a fact-check.
In spite of the Obama claims, the CEO of GM, when he speaks in China, is singing another tune. Dan Akerson is fond of telling the Chinese that "GM is well established for the future of China." He also brags about the eleven GM assembly plants in China, four GM power train plants in China, and plans to transfer most high-tech research to China. Akerson also boasts that 70% of GM vehicles are made in China.
Mr. Akerson's favorite partner is the Shanghai Automobile Industries Association (SAIC), a venture wholly owned by the Chinese government, a polity which is in turn wholly owned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Akerson's contracts with the CCP apparently are routinely predicated on open-ended technology transfer.
If there is any truth to the "outsourcing" claims, we would have to know how many jobs GM has created in China since the U.S. tax-dollar bailout. GM has 200,000 employees in the U.S.; how many jobs are underwritten by GM in China? Is a subsidized Detroit subsidizing underpaid Chinese employees? If so, how many?
Meanwhile, back in the world of an honest living wage, GM is taking a bath in Europe and America. GM Europe is hemorrhaging cash like the Medicaid program, and the domestic American market is again being lost to the Japanese. Toyota is passing GM as the world's largest auto-maker. Recall that the Japanese had to overcome a tsunami, a nuclear disaster, and a lousy world economy.
The ongoing controversy at GM today over their advertising priorities also undercuts the GM success mantra. The brouhaha can be summarized this way: GM canceled adverts with American professional football while purchasing rights to sponsor English professional soccer. First it was GM jobs for the Chinese; now it's GM jobs for the Brits. Throughout, Mr. Akerson flails American employees who leak such tidbits as "traitors." Hard to believe that Dan Akerson doesn't choke when he accuses his subordinates of treason. No competent general blames failure on the troops.
Alas, the General Motors jobs program might be summarized with another Akerson gem: "China is the crown jewel in the General Motors universe!" Indeed! GM stock might see $20 again someday when the CEO just stops talking.
G. Murphy Donovan writes frequently about politics and national security.