December 10, 2003
Free Trade Group Hits Kerry On Call Center Outsourcing Bill
A new free trade foundation today assailed Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, currently vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, for a bill that would require foreign-based telephone or Internet service centers to disclose their locations to callers. The National Foundation for American Policy used Kerry as one example of what executive director Stuart Anderson called "creeping protectionism" against companies that farm out various service functions to India and elsewhere, from accounting to customer complaint telephone answerers. Kerry's bill would require foreign-based employees of these telephone centers to identify their countries to U.S. callers. The bill presumably also covers U.S.-based call centers.
"Sen. Kerry's legislation appears to carry with it an ugly premise," Anderson said in a report released at a news conference on state and federal legislation restricting foreign-based outsourcing. "It assumes that if Americans discovered they were speaking to foreigners, they would either hang up the telephone or protest in another manner." Anderson said the premise appears to be that American jobs would be saved through "intolerance." Anderson agreed that Kerry is not viewed as a protectionist but said he found his bill "a little shocking" and "out of character."
A Kerry spokesman, asked for comment, did not return a call by presstime. The foundation established by Anderson, a former staff director of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, said legislation to curb or discourage foreign outsourcing of industrial service jobs was basically inefficient, would cost taxpayers money and hurt U.S. global competitiveness. While the Kerry bill introduced last month has gone nowhere, Anderson pointed to another restrictive outsourcing bill sponsored by Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., nearing final congressional approval inside the omnibus appropriations bill. That legislation would prohibit companies with federal outsourcing contracts under the OMB Circular A-76 fromperforming work outside the United States. -- by Michael Posner – December 10, 2003