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Obama vows to cut tax breaks of firms that ship jobs abroad

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: US President Barack Obama has revived the bugaboo of outsourcing by vowing to slash tax breaks to American firms that move jobs abroad and to help those who create employment within the country.

“Job creation would be the country’s number-one focus in 2010,” Obama said, pushing for a new jobs bill in his first State of the Union address to a joint session of the Congress Wednesday even as he acknowledged the step would not compensate for the seven million jobs lost over the last two years.

“To encourage … businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America,” he said.

“Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps. As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same, and I know they will,” he said.

Even as he promised to curb outsourcing, unlike in the past he did not mention India which, with its large English-speaking workforce, has earned the name of “back-office of the world” with half of the Indian IT-BPO industry’s 71.7 billion dollar revenue coming from the US.

“But the truth is, these steps won’t make up for the seven million jobs that we’ve lost over the last two years,” Obama said. “The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth.”

He also announced that US would invest massively in skills and education of its people and double US exports in the next five years to take on competing economies like China’s.

“We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores,” Obama said.

“But realising those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules,” he said, adding that the US will continue to shape a Doha Trade Agreement that opens global markets.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])