On Wednesday the Indiana-based Carrier air conditioner manufacturing company announced a deal brokered by President-Elect Donald Trump to keep up to a thousand jobs in Indiana instead of moving them all to Mexico. The deal helped our new president fulfill one campaign promise, and before he even takes office at that. It was a move that not only made the feckless Barack Obama look very, very bad, but it also likely completed Trump’s take over of the Republican Party in the minds of the American people.
On the campaign trail Donald J. Trump was constantly pointed in his focus on Carrier for announcing in February of this year that it was closing its Indiana-based manufacturing lines and moving several thousand jobs to a new plant in Mexico leaving thousands of Indiana residents without a livelihood.
At that time a video went viral showing a company representative telling several hundred workers that their jobs were being eliminated.
Carrier wasn’t alone at that time, either. That same week in February United Technologies Electronic Controls of Huntington, Indiana, also announced it was shuttering its Indiana plant and moving to Mexico. The closing of UTEC affected the lives of some 700 workers.
That video of the crestfallen Carrier workers enraged many and from that point on Trump used Carrier as an example of what he would do to prevent lost jobs if he became president of the United States of America.
Just for one example, in April Trump held a campaign rally in Indianapolis, the Hoosier state capital and its largest city. During his hour-long speech at the Elements Financial Blue Ribbon Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Trump mentioned Carrier by name several times.
“If I were in office right now, Carrier would not be leaving Indiana,” Trump said to a cheering crowd.
“Our jobs are being ripped out of our states, ripped out of our country,” he continued “They’re going to Mexico, they’re going all over.”
He also laid out one of his typical campaign clams of putting heavy taxes (or tariffs) on products coming into the U.S.
“When Carrier goes to Mexico and they want to sell their product across the border, we’re going to say ‘Sorry, folks,'” Trump said to cheers. “We’re going to charge you a 35 percent tax.”
But this was far from the only time Trump used these lines. For months he repeated them over and over at nearly every campaign stop all across the nation. His insistence that he’d save jobs are a signature of his campaign.
Naturally, the left thought Trump’s campaign rhetoric was outrageous. Indeed, his claims brought President Obama to incredulity. At a town hall event sponsored by taxpayer-funded PBS on June 1, Obama ridiculed Trump’s claim that he could save anyone’s job.
But for those folks who have lost their job right now because a plant went down the Mexico, that isn’t going to make you feel better. And so what we have to do is to make sure that folks are trained for the jobs that are coming in now because some of those jobs of the past are just not going to come back, and when somebody says, like the person you just mentioned who I’m not going to advertise for, that he’s going to bring all these jobs back, well how exactly are you going to do that? What are you going to do?
There’s — there’s no answer to it. He just says, “Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.” Well, how — what — how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually, the answer is he doesn’t have an answer.
Still, despite Obama’s ridicule, Donald Trump kept his eye on Carrier and once he won the election he began to work on saving the jobs at the company. By the day before Thanksgiving, Trump had taken to Twitter to let his followers know that he was about to finish a deal to save those jobs.
I am working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier A.C. Company to stay in the U.S. (Indiana). MAKING PROGRESS – Will know soon!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2016
And even amidst the likely grueling work of interviewing dozens of candidates for his administration and taking meetings about hundreds of others, president-in-waiting Trump did, indeed, successfully complete that deal. On Wednesday, November 30, the company announced the deal on Twitter.
We are pleased to have reached a deal with President-elect Trump & VP-elect Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indy. More details soon.
— Carrier (@Carrier) November 30, 2016
“Today’s announcement is possible because the incoming Trump-Pence administration has emphasized to us its commitment to support the business community and create an improved, more competitive U.S. business climate,” the company said in a statement. “The incentives offered by the state were an important consideration.”
With the announcement of that deal, millions of Americans saw two things. They saw Donald Trump fulfilling a campaign promise before he even takes office and they saw that Barack Obama had no idea what he was blathering about with his ridicule of Trump.
After all, at that town hall Obama swore that Trump was a liar and wouldn’t be able to save anyone’s job. Now who looks the fool, Mr. Obama?
The deal was struck with the hands-on work of our next vice president, Mike Pence, who just happens to be the current Governor of Indiana — well, until he takes the oath of office as VP, anyway. According to The Wall Street Journal, with Pence’s guidance the state of Indiana offered Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies Corp., upwards to $7 million in tax breaks to keep their plants open in the Hoosier State.
Granted Carrier and UT Corp. are still moving other jobs to a new plant in Mexico, but even this successful campaign to keep in the U.S. half the jobs they were moving elsewhere will be seen as nothing but a massive Trump victory.
Indeed, many happy Carrier and UT workers have already been seen on TV gushing over Trump’s victory and Trump Democrats were seen thrilling at Trump’s victory. In one article such a voter noted how lucky we are to have dodged the Hillary bullet.
“If Hillary had won — and you know, she really is a swamp person — she would have had to pay back with favors all these interests that sent her money,” voter Mark Ross told McClatchy. “But better Trump’s swamp than Obama’s swamp. At least he’s gonna get us something,” he added.
Not only did Trump directly save the 1,000 jobs at Carrier and UT, he also indirectly saved the jobs of many thousands more Indiana residents and other regional citizens. He saved the livelihood of many thousands who work around these Carrier employees. People who run restaurants, clothing stores, groceries, trucking firms, and the many other manufacturing plants who sell parts and supplies to Carrier.
Other Republicans, even those who didn’t support Trump during the recent campaign have also found this deal to be a feather in the GOP cap that can be touted to good effect. Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, for instance, was seen happily celebrating the win. “I’m pretty happy that we’re keeping jobs in America, aren’t you?” the Wisconsin Republican said on Thursday.
Meanwhile Gov. Pence and his President-Elect partner made a victory lap of sorts back in Indiana.
With this win and his apparent cooption of critic Mitt Romney, it appears that Donald Trump is now firmly in control of the Republican Party.
An Aside: Speaking of Romney, even as this win will be seen as a major step toward legitimacy for the President-Elect, Trump had already essentially muted the critics among the GOP establishment who stood against him throughout the campaign. With his meetings with major critic and GOP establishment chieftain, Mitt Romney, it appears that Trump has completely wooed Romney to his side taking out one of the establishment’s biggest leaders.
So, at least for now, the Republican Party is already fully Donald Trump’s Republican Party.
Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t critics of this deal.
From the left, self-identified socialist Vermont Senator and failed Democrat Party candidate for President Bernie Sanders insisted that this deal was an example of Carrier “holding Trump hostage” for tax deals.
“In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country,” Sanders carped.
This, of course, is utter nonsense. Carrier made no such bet that announcing job cuts and plant closings in February would be a good entryway to tax deals IF Trump won in November. Indeed, no one expected Trump to win at all and as far as Carrier was concerned they were done with the failed Obama/Clinton economy.
Instead of Carrier having some sort of underhanded, long tern conspiracy to win tax breaks, it was Donald Trump who reached out and cut this deal. Sanders has no clue what he’s talking about, but his critique will resonate with lefties.
There is also criticism from the right. And it is logical criticism, too.
The best exposition of that critique came from economics reporter James Pethokoukis.
The argument Pethokoukis made is this one:
But more broadly, this is all terrible for a nation’s economic vitality if businesses make decisions to please politicians rather than customers and shareholders. Yet America’s private sector has just been sent a strong signal that playing ball with Trump might be part of what it now means to run an American company. Imagine business after business, year after year, making decisions based partly on pleasing the Trump White House. In addition, Trump’s hectoring on trade and offshoring distracts from the economic reality that automation poses the critical challenge for the American workforce going forward.
Amusingly, this is exactly the opposite of what Sanders said. Note that Sanders said it was Carrier that bamboozled Trump while Pethokoukis is saying it is Trump in the lead, here, not Carrier.
Anyway, Pethokoukis is generally right with his greater point.
Yet another argument against the deal is certainly that Trump is doing nothing but deploying crony capitalism and indulging more corporate welfare. And just after I was thinking this point, up pops Robert Tracinski to declare Trump’s deal “just cronyism as usual.”
Like I said… I fully understand the point and have much sympathy with it. I essentially agree both the crony capitalism point as well as Pethokoukis’ point. These sort of deals are not economically sound and we need to begin driving the nation away from this stuff.
However, Pethokoukis also noted that in the greater scheme of the American economy, this deal with Carrier is inconsequential. It is the long term continuation of such deals that would be the problem. But, while I agree with Pethokoukis that we need to start getting back to real business with our business sector, this particular deal was far more important for the country than sticking to what is a better long term plan and NOT making this deal. Hopefully we can begin changing direction later.
After all, this deal has buoyed the nascent Trump presidency and the country both. That was priceless at any rate.