President Obama has accused Mitt Romney of raking in profits from investing in companies that ship American jobs overseas, but according to his most recent financial disclosure, he and First Lady Michelle Obama have hundreds of thousands of dollars in a mutual fund that has large holdings in corporations that outsource jobs.
“(Romney) invested in companies that have been called ‘pioneers’ of outsourcing,” Obama said at a Saturday campaign event in Glen Allen, Va. “I don’t want a pioneer in outsourcing. I want some insourcing.”
But Obama’s own portfolio shows a willingness to invest in American corporations that have shifted employment overseas.
In his most recent financial disclosure from 2011, Obama and his wife reported having between $200,000 and $450,000 in the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, which invests in the largest U.S. corporations. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as of Sept. 30, 2011, the fund’s biggest holding was 8,272,039 shares of Apple Inc., then valued at $3.2 billion.
The New York Times reported in January:
Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas….
“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last year was an economic adviser to the White House.
“If it’s the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.”
The mutual fund that the Obamas have invested in also held 94,582,281 million shares of General Electric, valued at $1.4 billion, as of the SEC filing. The multinational conglomorate has a long history of outsourcing – according to a new book cited by the New York Times, in 1989, “G.E. became the first U.S. company to outsource software work to India.” Obama also has close ties to GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, who was appointed as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers last year.
In addition to Apple and GE, the Obamas’ fund listed 10,655,961 shares of International Business Machines, valued at $1.9 billion. As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2009, “The technology giant has been steadily building its work force in India and other locations while reducing the number of workers based in the U.S. Foreign workers accounted for 71% of Big Blue’s nearly 400,000 employees at the start of the year, up from about 65% in 2006.”
The point in this is not to say outsourcing is wrong. Corporations are supposed to maximize profits for shareholders. But Obama’s own portfolio shows that despite his heated rhetoric, he makes investment decisions without regard to whether companies are outsourcing.
You can look at a full list of the fund’s holdings as of Sept. 30, 2011, here.