Robert Hurt, Outsourcing and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce


    (This definitely needs more exposure. Nice job, Aznew! – promoted by lowkell)

    It has been a mystery to me why Robert Hurt would support policies that would result in the outsourcing of jobs.

    It was a mystery because Mr. Hurt seemed slicker than that. Mr. Hurt is, if nothing else, the quintessential pandering politician, practiced at the art of crafting positions he believes will attract to enough voters to get him elected, while at the same time avoiding any kind of a mine field that could get him into hot water.

    His position on trade and tax legislation that could potentially result in the outsourcing of U.S. jobs, however, didn’t seem to fit that pattern. While not necessarily a position reflecting any particular principle, and arguably consistent with GOP policy, it nonetheless seemed counterintuitive in a place like the Fifth District, where outsourcing has been particularly unkind to so many workers and families.

    A couple of recent news items, however, provide a possible explanation for Mr. Hurt’s incongruous position. The inferences to be drawn from these news items suggest that Hurt may be carrying water for the very foreign corporations that benefit from the outsourcing of U.S. jobs, even as they devastate our own country, particularly Southside.

    At a minimum, these disclosures raise a number of legitimate questions that Mr. Hurt ought to answer.

    (more on flip)

    Here is what is happening:

    Mr. Hurt has taken positions on several issues that would result in greater outsourcing of American jobs – good for foreign corporations, but bad for the American worker.

    For example, Mr. Hurt has refused to “oppose expanding NAFTA-style agreements to cover South Korea and other countries,” according to the Perriello campaign.   Meanwhile, Mr. Hurt has pledged to protect tax breaks for U.S. corporations that ship jobs overseas, and has opposed extending unemployment benefits for Virginians who lose their jobs as a result.

    Given that thousands of jobs in the Fifth District have been lost to outsourcing, Mr. Hurt’s positions on these issues are simply, well, inexplicable. So far, however, Mr. Hurt has not felt a need to explain his positions; his strategy now is clearly laying low and trying to run out the clock to Election Day, so he just denies and defects any questions without really addressing the substance of the issue.

    Then yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, publicly endorsed Hurt. According to news reports, the Chamber has also began to run some new anti-Perriello ads in the District, though I haven’t seen them yet.

    The Chamber has previously been active in Virginia. In January 2010, the Appomattix News reported that the Chamber had spent $1.34 million on attack ads in the commonwealth, with some $95K of that devoted to Perriello.

    So far this cycle, the Chamber has reportedly spent some $75 million attacking Democrats.

    On Oct. 5, the website Think Progress reported that the Chamber was collecting foreign funds into its general account, from which it has been funding these attack ads. And while the Chamber argued that it had controls in place to ensure foreign funds were not used to influence U.S. elections, it provided no specifics beyond saying, “Trust us.”

    But the Think Progress piece is damning, and it suggests that foriegn money might be coming into the Fifth District to influence our election.

    A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections.

    According to Think Progress, among the foreign countries where the Chamber has a strong and aggressive fundraising presence in “China, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Russia, and many other places.” Think Progress says more than $100K was raised in Bahrain, and more than $200K in India. (The Think Progress piece is worth a read to see how this scam is run.)

    Put these facts together, and perhaps Hurt’s out-of-character position on outsourcing begins to make sense. It’s a fairly direct line from foreign corporate funding of the Chamber of Commerce, to the Chamber of Commerce’s support of Robert Hurt, to Robert Hurt’s support of policies that would promote outsourcing of U.S. jobs, thus benefiting foreign corporations (where is Glenn Beck and his chalkboard when you need it?)

    Look, I don’t know what is in Mr. Hurt’s mind. Perhaps he is not being bought, but is simply being duped, but if that is the case, he is now on notice and can correct the record.

    At a minimum, the direct line from Mr. Hurt’s positions on issues related to outsourcing to foreign corporations raises the inference that Hurt’s calculation is that he is better off serving the  corporate and foreign interests who can fund his campaign, rather than the people he says he wants to represent. And why not, since Hurt has gotten away so far with refusing to face the voters of this district and answer questions, or to debate these critical issues with his rivals?

    But here is an incontrovertible fact: Whatever else it stands for, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of rich corporations and the CEOs who run them, not the interests of the American worker.

    Given the revelations concerning the Chamber’s possible use of foreign funds in influencing U.s. elections, hopefully Mr. Hurt will now see it in his interest to answer a few questions.

       (1) Will Mr. Hurt clarify his position on new trade agreements that will outsource American jobs?

       (2) If elected, will Mr. Hurt continue to support tax breaks for U.S. companies that outsource jobs?

       (3) Given the fact that some of its funding is from foreign sources, will Mr. Hurt disavow the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?


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