The manufacturing industry has lost 2.8 million jobs since Mr. Bush took office in 2001. Although it 's difficult to ascertain how many of these have been outsourced, a study by the Economic Policy Institute estimated that about 60 percent of manufacturing jobs were sent abroad. Almost one million jobs have been lost in the professional service and information sectors. Although the manufacturing industry has been hit the hardest, job losses in the information technology (IT) sector are a close second.
During President Bush 's first term his administration viewed outsourcing as business as usual. The Economic Report of the President in 2004 announced, "When a good or service is produced at lower cost in another country, it makes sense to import it rather than to produce it domestically. " N. Gregory Mankiw, Chairman of President Bush 's Council of Economic Advisors, was asked to defend the findings of the report and he stated, "Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade. More things are tradable than were tradable in the past. And that 's a good thing. " But for millions of Americans who have lost their jobs to overseas employers, this is hardly "a good thing. "
Some policies of the Bush administration are supportive of outsourcing. During the first three years that President Bush was in office his administration only brought ten cases before the World Trade Organization for violating trade rules with America. By contrast, during the second Clinton administration, 33 cases of trade violations were lodged with the World Trade Organization. In March of last year a petition was filed with the Department of Labor claiming that China 's suppression of workers ' wages and export prices was violating the Trade Act. Passed by Congress in 1974, the Trade Act allows the president to sanction a country committing unfair trade practices that gives them an improper trade advantage. Unfortunately, the Bush administration rejected the petition, maintaining that imposing sanctions on China could lead to "economic isolationism. "
In 1974 Congress passed the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act (TAA) to help workers who lost jobs owing to increased imports and outsourcing. The TAA, which provides for income assistance and job retraining skills, was renewed in 2002. However, the Bush administration has purposely failed to promote it. Despite 2.8 million manufacturing jobs having been lost since President Bush took office, few workers have been able to take advantage of the TAA. In 2002, only 233,204 workers were approved for assistance; in 2003, only 197,024 workers were approved. Approvals declined even further last year, to 147,658 workers.
If President Bush wants to ensure that every American has a job, he will have to change how his administration has viewed outsourcing. The government will have to encourage keeping jobs at home, something it has been reluctant to do for fear of alienating big business. It must lobby Congress to impose penalties on companies who outsource needlessly. And the Bush administration must provide widespread assistance to workers who have fallen victim to outsourcing.
Gene C. Gerard taught history, religion, and ethics for 14 years at a number of colleges in the Southwest and is a contributing author to the forthcoming book Americans at War, by Greenwood Press.