Know Your Obama and Romney Outsourcing Claims

You can see why Mitt Romney and President Obama love claiming the other is an outsourcer. Still, it's important to know that some of the outsourcing claims check out more than others. Here's a guide to both sides.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

You can see why Mitt Romney and President Obama love claiming the other is an outsourcer. Still, it's important to know that some of the outsourcing claims check out more than others. Here's a guide to both sides.

In an election about the economy and jobs, accusing the other guy of sendng jobs overseas is a concrete way (some Chinese kid got your job) to explain something abstract (our complicated, interconnected global economy). But the campaign trail slogans are not so straightforward, and despite howls of fact-checkers, "the two candidates and their allies have all but stuck their fingers in their ears while continuing with their outsourcing attacks," The New York Times' Michael D. Shear and Richard A. Oppel Jr. write. This is what all the arguing is about.

Company: ABB Inc., based in North Carolina.

Alleged Outsourcer: President Obama

Alleged Outsourcing: The Republican National Committee says the energy and tech company “received over $16 million in stimulus funds to create green energy manufacturing jobs” and “laid off workers in the U.S. and transferred work to Mexico.”

Fact: ABB spokesman Barry Dillon tells the Times the company has 19,000 employees in America -- an uptick -- and 8,000 more workers in Canada and Mexico. Nothing has been moved to Mexico, Dillon said.

Company: SunPower Corporation, based in California.

Alleged Outsourcer: President Obama

Alleged Outsourcing: The RNC says the government gave SunPower a $1.3 billion loan to build solar panels in Mexico.

Fact: SunPower will build a "large number of the panels" in California and others in Asia and Mexico, and the panels will be installed on a solar ranch in that state, the Times reports. The federal loan guarantee actually went to the solar ranch owner, NRG Solar, and it was worth closer to $1.2 billion.

Company: Fisker Automotive, based in California.

Alleged Outsourcer: President Obama

Alleged Outsourcing: The RNC says the hybrid maker was a "stimulus recipient" and that money "went abroad for jobs that weren’t created in the United States."

Fact: Fisker told the Times they got $529 million in federal loans, but they were from a George W. Bush-era program, not the stimulus. While Fisker's electric car, the Karma, is being built in Finland, the company says the federal money used for the Karma were spent hiring people in California and Michigan. That money amounted to about $169 million, the Times reports.

Company: CSI/Stream International

Alleged Outsourcer: Mitt Romney

Alleged Outsourcing: Obama's campaign has aired ads calling Romney an "outsourcing pioneer." The claims are based on a June 21 Washington Post story calling Romney a pioneer in moving jobs overseas. The Post reported that when Romney was running Bain in 1993, it bought CSI, which provided services like customer service to companies like Microsoft. By the mid-90s, CSI was setting up foreign call centers, and two years after Bain invested in it, CSI merged with another company to form Stream International. "By 1997, Stream was running three tech-support call centers in Europe and was part of a call center joint venture in Japan, an SEC filing shows," the Post reported.

Fact: The Romney campaign tried unsuccessfully to get Bain to retract the story. In a press release, it quoted Scott Murray, former president of Stream International, saying that by the time Romney left Bain, Stream had workers "in places like Massachusetts, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas." The foreign call centers were for foreigners, he said. "If you called Microsoft, for instance, in French from France, we answered your call in France." Further, the Post reported that Bain didn't become a majority shareholder in Stream until 1999, after Romney left to manage the 2002 Olympics. It's on the basis of that final point that rates the Obama commercial false.

Company: Modus Media

Alleged Outsourcer: Mitt Romney

Alleged Outsourcing: The Stream merger above also created Modus, a subsidiary that became independent in 1998, the Post reports. "In December 1997, it announced it had contracted with Microsoft to produce software and training products at a center in Australia…. Two years later, Modus Media told the SEC it was performing outsource packaging and hardware assembly for IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Computer Corp… According to a news release issued by Modus Media in 1997, its expansion of outsourcing services took place in close consultation with Bain… The global expansion that began while Romney was at Bain continued after he left. In 2000, the firm announced it was opening a new facility in Guadalajara, Mexico…"

Fact: Again, the Romney campaign tried to get the Post to retract the story, quoting Dan Beck, president of the Americas Region for Modus, who said that under Romney, the company added 700 jobs in America. The overseas facilities were set up to create products in overseas markets, Beck said. And again, says that the Guadalajara plant -- featured in an Obama ad -- did cost 200 Californians their jobs, but it happened in 2000, "more than a year after Romney had left Bain." does not address the Post's reporting that Romney initiated the overseas push.

Company: GT Bicycle Inc.

Alleged Outsourcer: Mitt Romney

Alleged Outsourcing: The Post reported Bain bought the bike company in 1993. Then, "In 1998, when Bain owned 22 percent of GT’s stock and had three members on the board, the bicycle maker was sold to Schwinn, which had also moved much of its manufacturing offshore as part of a wider trend in the bicycle industry of turning to Chinese labor."

Fact: The Washington Post's Fact Checker explains that "As part of its demand for a retraction, the Romney campaign produced a slide show claiming that many of these companies actually created jobs in the United States. The slide show, however, only shows half of the picture — these are the jobs created at these companies, but they are replacing customer service and manufacturing jobs that had once existed at other companies. Most likely, it’s a wash — no overall job creation one way or the other."

Company: SMTC Corp.

Alleged Outsourcer: Mitt Romney

Alleged Outsourcing: In June 1998, Bain acquired a Colorado company that eventually acquired SMTC Corp in July 1999, after Romney left Bain. Within a year, the company said it was " expanding production in Ireland and Mexico," the Post reported. Its prospectus said it would "capitalize" on a trend of communications companies "dramatically increasing the amount of manufacturing they are outsourcing."

Fact: Again, all this outsourcing happened after Romney left Bain.

Company: ChipPAC

Alleged Outsourcer: Mitt Romney

Alleged Outsourcing: Just as Romney was leaving Bain, the company was negotiating to buy the Hyundai subsidiary ChipPAC, which tested and packaged computer chips, the Post says. The deal was announced a month after Romney left. The company's Asian plants tested chips for American firms, which were a majority of its customers.

Fact: It happened after Romney left, so the assumption is his past leadership did not play a role.

Company: Holson Burnes Group

Alleged Outsourcer: Mitt Romney

Alleged Outsourcing: Obama's campaign says Romney shipped jobs to China because while it was owned by Bain, Holson Burnes outsourced "75 percent" of its picture framing production. Further, the company closed a South Carolina plant, and those jobs went north and then overseas.

Fact: Romney was in charge of Bain the entire time it owned Holson Burnes, from 1987 to 1995, explains. Yes, according to SEC filings, Holson Burnes outsourced most of its photo frames, but the same filings also show 75 percent of its photo albums were made in New Hampshire. The fact-checker says it doesn't know if outsourcing actually increased under Bain. As for the South Carolina plant, its closure did not mean the immediate opening of a Chinese one, because the company closed that line of business, which sold to pro photographers. It did open a foreign plant to do another line of business, the fact checker says: "after the South Carolina plant closed, Holson Burnes entered a joint venture with Chu Kwun Kee Metal Manufactory, Ltd. in mid-1994 to manufacture picture frames."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.