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Politicians, Vendors Square Off Over Outsourcing

The political debate over offshore outsourcing is growing more intense as the November elections edge closer.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has unveiled a plan that would end some investment tax credits for companies that send jobs overseas. Meanwhile, a group representing leading technology-industry CEOs released a position paper arguing that the computer industry needs unfettered access to global labor markets.

Kerry presented his "workers' bill of rights" plan while stumping in Bedford, N.H., on Jan. 7. He charged that current polices give companies "special treatment while they ship American jobs overseas."

A paper released the same day by the Computer Systems Policy Project, a lobbying group that includes Dell's Michael Dell, Hewlett-Packard's Carly Fiorina, Intel's Craig Barrett, and IBM's Sam Palmisano, argues that legislative efforts to limit offshore outsourcing would hurt the U.S. economy. "With the winds of protectionism blowing in Washington, it seemed timely to us to reach out to policy makers on both sides," says the group's executive director, Bruce Mehlman, who previously served as assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy in the Bush administration.

The group's paper claims that 60% of revenue for U.S. technology companies originates outside the country. "Any trade barriers created by the United States in an attempt to avoid global competition could lead to retaliation from our trading partners and even an all-out trade war," the group warns.

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