Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who many say aspires to be the Senate Majority Leader should Nevada’s Harry Reid lose his election or step aside, has proposed a new bit of legislation that may be of interest to SM readers:
In an effort to slow the exodus of U.S. telephone work to overseas services, Sen. Charles Schumer is introducing legislation that would impose an excise tax on companies that transfer calls with American area codes to foreign call centers.
The measure would also require telling U.S. customers that the call is being transferred and to which country.
Companies use call centers to give customers technical product support, answer billing questions or provide other information. They often use several operators.
The fee would be 25 cents for calls transferred to foreign countries. There would be no fee for a domestic call center. Companies would have to report quarterly their total customer service calls received and the number relayed overseas. [BusWeek]
p>The 25 cent fee isn’t ideal. It is anti-business and too nativist for my taste, but this is a tough economy and the Senator is engaging in a bit of phony “I feel your pain” to protect his right flank. What I really don’t agree with is the second part of the proposed legislation,which requires a company to announce which foreign country the call is being transferred to. Turning that into a law does nothing but encourage the worst in people. What’s next, pass a law that requires the call center worker to use their real names and accents as well?
In a survey of American economists in 2006, Robert Whaples found nearly 90 percent agreed the U.S. should eliminate remaining protectionist tariffs and trade barriers, like the new one Schumer is proposing, that there are lower costs and a net gain from free trade. Most also agreed the U.S. should not restrict American employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. [BusWeek]
p>And India of course is the main outsourcing punching bag. It doesn’t matter that Ireland and Israel are the beneficiaries of a great deal of outsourcing as well. Only countries like India and the Philippines get the bad public image.
Please let Schumer know that proposing stupid legislation, just to protect himself from a Republican opponent that is a “terror warrior,” is not the right way to get the South Asian American part of his base to turn out on election day or open their checkbooks for his campaign.