One of the last questions in the debate concerned how to bring Apple’s manufacturing jobs ‘back’ to the United States.
Mitt Romney went first and said China is stealing intellectual property, designs, cheating on currency, hacking into computers, and isn’t playing fair to U.S. workers: “We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level.”
Obama went second and said the U.S. doesn’t necessarily want the low-skill, low-wage jobs and education and skills will bring higher-paying jobs home: “There are some jobs that are not going to come back. [...] I want high-wage, high-skill jobs. That’s why we have to invest in advanced manufacturing [...] make sure that we have the best science and research in the world.”
And the President should know: Steve Jobs told Obama in February 2011, according to Walter Isaacson, “If you could educate these [30,000] engineers, we could move more manufacturing plants here.”
The New York Times dived deep on this and probably has better answers than either politician.
[UPDATED with full transcript below]
CROWLEY: Mr. President, we have a really short time for a quick discussion here.
iPad, the Macs, the iPhones, they are all manufactured in China. One of the major reasons is labor is so much cheaper here. How do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?
ROMNEY: The answer is very straightforward. We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level. China’s been cheating over the years. One by holding down the value of their currency. Number two, by stealing our intellectual property; our designs, our patents, our technology. There’s even an Apple store in China that’s a counterfeit Apple store, selling counterfeit goods. They hack into our computers. We will have to have people play on a fair basis, that’s number one.
Number two, we have to make America the most attractive place for entrepreneurs, for people who want to expand their business. That’s what brings jobs in. The president’s characterization of my tax plan…
ROMNEY: …is completely…is completely…
ROMNEY: …is completely false. Let me tell you…
CROWLEY: Let me to go the president here because we really are running out of time. And the question is can we ever get — we can’t get wages like that. It can’t be sustained.
OBAMA: Candy, there are some jobs that are not going to come back. Because they are low wage, low skill jobs. I want high wage, high skill jobs. That’s why we have to emphasize manufacturing. That’s why we have to invest in advanced manufacturing. That’s why we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the best science and research in the world. And when we talk about deficits, if we’re adding to our deficit for tax cuts for folks who don’t need them, and we’re cutting investments in research and science that will create the next Apple, create the next new innovation that will sell products around the world, we will lose that race.
If we’re not training engineers to make sure that they are equipped here in this country. Then companies won’t come here. Those investments are what’s going to help to make sure that we continue to lead this world economy, not just next year, but 10 years from now, 50 years from now, 100 years from now.
CROWLEY: Thanks Mr. President.
CROWLEY: Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs.