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Who's the real 'outsourcer in chief'? Why Obama, Romney both shoulder blame.

The trend of outsourcing US jobs predates either President Obama or Mitt Romney, but both have contributed to it in different ways, according to one economist. 

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President Obama speaks at the TPI Composites Factory, which manufactures wind turbine blades, earlier this year in Newton, Iowa. Republicans say Obama's energy policies have led to outsourcing.

Charlie Neibergall/AP/File

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Team Obama says Mitt Romney has been a big outsourcer of US jobs. Now Mr. Romney fires the same charge back at President Obama.

Who's right? And how important is this issue to voters?

Although both sides have used the phrase "outsourcer in chief" about the other, it wouldn't be fair to view either the president or his Republican rival as a prime culprit in the shift of US jobs overseas. That trend became well established without either of them playing a central role.

But some economists say it's valid to find some fault with both leaders on the issue of jobs moving offshore. And it's an issue that many voters care about, so you can expect to see more attack ads on this subject between now and Election Day

Instances of inappropriate outsourcing "swell the trade deficit, which imposes great costs" on the economy, economist Peter Morici argues in a written analysis Wednesday. "Both President Obama and Governor Romney own some of that problem."

Amid the election campaign's broader focus on jobs and economic growth, both campaigns are purposefully confusing the issue in their political advertisements, he adds.

In one swing state, the Obama team recently asked in an ad: "Does Iowa really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House?" The ad points to a Washington Post article describing how Bain Capital, the company Romney founded and headed, invested in firms that that specialized in helping other employers expand operations overseas.

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