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Everywhere they go, Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown each tout their own record of supporting businesses.
It’s been a familiar topic on the campaign trail, in TV ads and during debates in one of the most-watched Senate races in the country.
During their first of three televised debates on Oct. 24, 2014, Shaheen, the Democrat, took it to the Republican Brown, saying he voted to give tax breaks to companies that move jobs overseas.
"One of the problems with our tax code is we encourage companies to outsource our jobs. We actually provide tax credits for companies that ship jobs overseas," Shaheen said directly to Brown. "When you were in the senate, you voted to reward those companies to ship jobs overseas."
Brown had a definitive response: "I have never voted to outsource jobs."
The exchange sounded like a job for PolitiFact. In this item, we will look into Shaheen’s claim that Brown "voted to reward" companies to ship jobs overseas.
As evidence, the Shaheen campaign pointed to Brown’s vote on a 2010 bill introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called the Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act (S. 3816).
The bill aimed to give companies incentives to bring overseas jobs back to the U.S. and to reduce tax breaks that companies can benefit from when moving jobs outside of the country, according to a summary of the legislation by the Library of Congress. In some cases, the 2010 measure would have taken away a firm's option to defer taxes on profits from goods made overseas but sold here.
The bill drew opposition from major businesses and industry groups as well, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Koch Industries, both of whom registered to lobby on the bill.
"S. 3816 would create a payroll tax holiday for employers moving jobs to the United States from overseas in a purported attempt to stimulate job growth," wrote R. Bruce Josten, the executive vice president of government affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which now endorses Brown in the race. "However, the concept of economic growth is not a zero-sum game. Replacing a job that is based in another country with a domestic job does not stimulate economic growth or enhance the competitiveness of American worldwide companies."
PolitiFact previously checked a claim by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a co-sponsor of S.3816, who said the country’s tax code allows companies to deduct the expense of moving jobs overseas. That statement was found to be true.
Shaheen voted yes, and Brown voted "no."
However, he’s got some cover.
First, while the intention of the Durbin bill was "to create American jobs and to prevent the offshoring of such jobs overseas," it never came to an up or down vote.
The bill died on a procedural vote to end debate, known as cloture. It gained only 53 of the 60 votes required to shut down debate and move to a final, up-or-down vote. Senators voted mostly along party lines: 52 of 57 Democrats voted yes (one didn't cast a vote), and 40 of 41 Republicans voted no (with one not casting vote). The chamber’s two independents were split.
So Brown never cast a vote on the merits of the measure.
However, Brown openly criticized the bill on Sept. 27, 2010 -- the day before the Senate vote -- saying it would hurt job creation and harm the economy.
"Mr. President, this bill on the floor tonight is not about job creation. It’s about the campaign and November," he said at the time. "They want to call us the party of ‘No’– I get it. Some pollster says that it plays well back home when politicians talk about ‘companies that ship jobs overseas.’ I get that too."
He added, "Major employers in Massachusetts that I’ve talked to have said that these proposals are like getting a small piece of candy with one hand and hit with a sledge hammer with the other."
The second bit of cover for Brown is that Shaheen exaggerates somewhat when she says that Brown "voted to reward" companies "to ship jobs overseas."
As we’ve noted previously, there is no tax break or loophole that addresses outsourcing or insourcing jobs specifically. When Democrats refer to "tax breaks" for outsourcing, they are typically referring to standard business expense deductions. Companies can write off many business-related expenses as tax-deductible -- including relocation.
This provision of tax law isn’t targeted at businesses that move outside of the United States. A business would get the same deductions for money spent moving from New York to California.
Jeanne Shaheen says Scott Brown voted to reward companies to ship jobs overseas.
A bill in the Senate in 2010 called the Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act was aimed at giving companies incentives to bring overseas jobs back to the United States and reducing tax breaks that can benefit companies that move jobs outside of the country. On a procedural vote to move the bill forward, Shaheen voted in favor and Brown against.
Brown did openly oppose the bill in a speech, but his actual vote was procedural -- not on the merits -- and it’s debatable whether his opposition amounted to "rewarding" companies that outsource or simply kept a status quo that treated all companies equally.
On balance, we find Shaheen’s statement Half True.
Library of Congress, Text of S.3816
Library of Congress, Vote on S.3816
Govtrack.us, Summary of S.3816
National Association of Manufacturers, Opposition to S.3818, Sept. 27, 2010
Press release, Scott Brown, Sept. 27, 2010
PolitiFact Rhode Island, Whitehouse says companies get a tax break for moving jobs overseas, Nov. 21, 2010
Politifact, Is there a corporate tax break that ships jobs overseas?, Sept. 16, 2014
Center for Responsive Politics, Clients lobbying on S.3816: Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act.
Email interview, Elizabeth Guyton, spokeswoman for Scott Brown, Oct. 24, 2010
Email interview, Harrell Kirstein, spokesman for Jeanne Shaheen, Oct. 24, 2014
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