3/27/2012 12:42:24 PM
Los Angeles Times: Exporting America's future
Los Angeles Times
We all know the United States has a jobs crisis. President Obama further acknowledged it when he made manufacturing a top priority in this year's State of the Union address. He has his eye set on fixing the tax code to keep jobs onshore, training young people to fill them, reforming immigration to retain workers once trained and setting new standards to drive innovation and create more jobs. That's all good news for the nation; it's practically an industrial policy.
In all this, though, there's a worrisome undercurrent. The United States didn't just suddenly find itself in this crisis. Our nation has worked long and hard to get here, after decades of so-called free markets while other nations tilted the playing field, of American jobs going offshore, of politicians, economic advisors and industrialists finding common cause in letting manufacturing move to Asia and Latin America.
Jobs fled to cheaper labor markets, unprotected by U.S. health and safety standards. And they took with them wealth. Seventy large U.S. firms — including Apple, Microsoft, GE and Pfizer — hold $1.2 trillion in cash overseas, according to a recent Bloomberg survey. Much of that money is unlikely ever to be repatriated to the United States because of tax laws.