The transfer of American jobs overseas to cut the cost of doing business has emerged as a key issue in the battle for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination between Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and North Carolina Senator John Edwards.
For David Bevard of Galesburg, Illinois, the concern over lost jobs is not an abstract issue.
He has worked for 30 years making refrigerators for the Maytag Corporation and now faces the prospect of having to look for a new job just as he was approaching retirement.
"We have always believed that if you worked hard, paid your dues, played by the rules and produced a quality product that you would get rewarded in the end," he said. "Instead, our reward is that Maytag is taking the 1,600 jobs out of Galesburg [Illinois] and moving them to Reynosa, Mexico, and South Korea. This is going to be devastating to our community of 34,000 people and, quite frankly, we are not alone."
Mr. Bevard spoke at a rally this week sponsored by the AFL-CIO, the country's largest federation of labor unions, representing more than 13 million workers. The union organization now backs Senator John Kerry for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
The concern over lost jobs has become a driving issue in the Democratic race and may have helped Senator John Edwards to a stronger than expected second place finish in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary.
Senator Edwards says he has been less supportive of free trade deals than his rival, Senator Kerry, and he now focuses on the job loss issue in his campaign speeches.
"We have shipped more than a million good jobs overseas in a race for cheaper labor," said John Edwards. "I don't know if you heard this, but the administration - the White House - said about two weeks ago that the outsourcing of American jobs is a good thing. What planet do these people live on? Let me tell you what would be a good thing is to outsource this administration!"
For his part, Senator Kerry is now critical of free trade agreements and says future agreements should include tougher job and environmental protections.
The job loss issue has become a potential weakness for President Bush as he gears up his re-election campaign. The president's difficulties on the issue were compounded recently when the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, Gregory Mankiw, said the outsourcing or transfer of U.S. jobs overseas was a good thing for the U.S. economy.
Jack Pitney is a political scientist at Claremont-McKenna College in Los Angeles. He says the comment amounted to a political stumble for the White House.
"Well, from the standpoint of strict economics you could make that case," he said. "But politically, that was a terribly damaging statement to make and naturally the Democrats are taking advantage of it."
Democrats are seizing on the issue, charging the president is responsible for the loss of 2.7 million jobs.
abstract [5AbstrAkt] adj. 抽象的，深奥的
devastating [5devEsteitiN] adj. 破坏性的，全然的
sponsored [5spCnsE] vt. 主办
AFL-CIO abbr. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization 美国劳工联盟及产业工会联合会
federation [7fedE5reiFEn] n. 联合，联盟
outsource [aut5sC:s] v.（将……工作、业务等）外包
tough [tQf] adj. 艰苦的
stumble [5stQmbl] n. 错误