Treasury Secretary John Snow says outsourcing of American jobs, a hot issue in the presidential campaign, can help make the economy stronger.
"It's part of trade," Snow said. "It's one aspect of trade, and there can't be any doubt about the fact that trade makes the economy stronger."
Snow said in an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer that technology is allowing U.S. companies to downsize and become more efficient by linking contract workers through the Internet.
"You can outsource a lot of activities and get them done just as well, or better, at a lower cost," Snow said during a stop here Monday. "If we can keep the American economy strong and growing and expanding, we'll create lots of jobs."
Snow's comments on outsourcing followed remarks on the same subject last month by N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, who stirred controversy by suggesting that shipping U.S. service jobs overseas could be good for the economy.
Mankiw was forced to apologize for his comments after they were attacked as being insensitive to the huge job losses the country has suffered over the past three years. Bush himself addressed the issue, saying he knew people in America were looking for work "because jobs have gone overseas."
Mankiw said his comments should not have been construed as praising U.S. job losses because "nothing could be further from my view."
Snow's visit to Ohio came on the heels of last week's Ohio Poll from the University of Cincinnati showing Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry running neck and neck among voters in the battleground state of Ohio.
While in Cincinnati, Snow met with Kroger employees, visited a bank's operations center and dined with members of the Cincinnati Business Committee.
Talking about their business, Kroger managers summed up the current economic situation, Snow said. "The economy's stronger, sales are going up, competition's tough," he said.
"I think that's a message that you probably find repeated in every boardroom around America," Snow added.
"I was struck by the fact coming in this morning, the number of foreign companies that have operations right here, proudly displaying their logos," he said. "America can compete with anybody. What we need to do is not build walls but tear walls down."