President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday toured the Indiana factory that won’t be closing after he intervened to stop the company from shipping all its jobs to Mexico.
“They’re going to spend a lot of money on the plant and I said to some of the folks, I said companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences,” Trump said at Carrier Corporation’s gas furnace factory in Indianapolis after greeting workers. “Not going to happen.”
Bizarrely, Trump claimed that some earlier statements of his ― like “If I were in office right now, Carrier would not be leaving Indiana” and “They’re not going to move” ― were not actually intended as promises to save jobs at Carrier.
“I never thought I made the promise, not with Carrier,” Trump said Thursday, adding that he only remembered his past statements after seeing them on the news last week. “That was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like all other companies.”
Nevertheless, in exchange for keeping 800 of the 1,400 jobs it had planned to transfer to Monterrey, Mexico, Carrier is getting $7 million worth of tax breaks from the state of Indiana over the next 10 years, a spokesman for the Trump transition told The Huffington Post.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the current governor of Indiana, helped strike the deal.
“Mike has been such a wise decision for me,” Trump said of his running mate. “Everybody loves Mike.”
The downside for workers is that Carrier is still shifting some production to Mexico, and 600 Carrier positions will still be eliminated. United Technologies, Carrier’s parent company, will move forward with closing a separate Indiana plant and laying off 700 workers.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who, like Trump, had blasted Carrier on the campaign trail during his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Trump had struck a lousy deal. One reason, he said, is that the agreement doesn’t save all 2,100 jobs United Technologies had planned to send south. Another is that the company is getting tax breaks.
“Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States,” Sanders wrote in The Washington Post on Thursday. “Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives.”
On the campaign trail, Trump said repeatedly that he would stop Carrier and other companies from offshoring jobs by threatening to raise tariffs on their imports. Instead of cutting deals with individual companies, Trump campaigned on a promise of changing the free trade agreements that make it profitable for companies to shift production to countries with lower labor costs.
Another criticism of the Carrier deal is that while it’s good for the workers who will keep their jobs, it doesn’t necessarily translate into a national strategy. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Trump would need to strike another 800 Carrier deals in order to increase manufacturing employment as much as President Barack Obama has over the past eight years.
Still, the news is a symbolic victory for Trump and for manufacturing workers. Companies closing factories in favor of offshore production don’t usually get much press coverage outside of local papers, but Carrier’s case was different from the start. That’s because a Carrier employee filmed a company official telling workers their jobs would be shipped to Mexico, and the video went viral.
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