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Rattner off-message: Outsourcing is inevitable!

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Getting mighty crowded in that woodshed: Obama’s ex-semi-auto czar, Steve Rattner, goes off message and says he doesn’t “believe we can reverse” the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. Apparently it is not Mitt Romney’s fault. Rather, the wage gap is just too great. Using GM as an example, Rattner says the company’s Michigan workers make $55/hour, its Mexican workers make a little more than $7/hour — while in China it’s $4.50 an hour and in India $1/hour. [Video is from Brookings Institution, 7/12] … Caveats: Rattner’s obviously including benefits in his $55 figure — I’m not sure it’s directly comparable. The difference between $7/hour in Mexico and the $14-plus that Volkswagen is paying in its Tennessee plant doesn’t seem insurmountable in itself, given the compensating advantages (e.g., better control) of manufacturing in the U.S. …

Rattner himself could have done a lot to make the U.S. more competitive if he’d pushed Detroit’s unsustainable UAW wages in VW’s direction when he was coordinating Obama’s auto bailout. Too bad he didn’t. UAW autoworkers didn’t lose a penny in hourly wages, even as their employers were driven into bankruptcy — something Rattner himself has noted. You have to wonder if his comments are tainted by guilt over his failure. …. [Thanks to alert reader V]