Obama, Romney cite Apple, tech issues in debate

Romney says U.S. policies push American companies to China; Obama says research investments will keep U.S. on top

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"I want to close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China; that allow them to profit offshore and not have to get taxed, so they have tax advantages offshore," Obama said.

Obama said that Romney wants to expand tax breaks in ways that will encourage outsourcing. Those breaks pushed by Romney will create jobs, Obama said, adding that "the problem is they'll be in China, or India, or Germany."

Crowley fired off her own outsourcing question after Obama finished responding to Romney.

Asked Crowley: "[The] 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?"

"The answer is very straightforward," said Romney. "We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level," he said.

Romney said China has been "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," he said.

Obama said "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."

To help get those jobs created, Obama said his administration is investing in efforts to produce advanced manufacturing tools.

"That's why we've got to make sure that we've got the best science and research in the world," said Obama.

"And when we talk about deficits, if we're adding to our deficit with 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."

On high-skilled immigration, Romney emphasized permanent visas, or green cards, "to people who graduate with skills that we need. People around the world with accredited degrees in science and math get a green card stapled to their diploma, come to the U.S. of A."

Some proposals for green cards in Congress limit them to students with advanced degrees who are graduates of U.S. universities.

Obama didn't address the high-skill green card issue, but has previously called for green cards for graduates of U.S. universities with science, technology, engineering math degrees.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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