Monday, December 05, 2016

Did Donald Trump Really Save 1000 Carrier Jobs?

I've been involved in politics in one fashion or other for close to 40 years now, and if there's one thing I can say about it, it is this. Politics has never ceased to amaze me. President-elect Donald Trump, perhaps the most unpopular incoming President in American history with the possible exceptions of Lincoln and Kennedy, recently stepped up and made a pre-inauguration promise to the heating and air conditioning giant Carrier that if they kept the Indiana plant in the US instead of moving it to Mexico, he would give them a tax abatement; that is, a break on their corporate taxes. Now here is Trump, not even President yet, and he's living up to his reputation as the "Master of the Art of the Deal" which has earned him billions. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the plant is located in the home state of his choice for Vice President, Mike Pence.

In exchange for keeping the plant at home, which allegedly will save about 1000 jobs, Carrier will also get a break on its taxes. However, that's a deal Trump can't realistically keep because Congress, not the President, is responsible for controlling the federal purse (if you'll recall, that was an issue when the Supreme Court overstepped its Constitutional Authority regarding the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare, by rewriting the bill as a tax). That is, only Congress can approve tariffs, taxes, and that includes tax breaks to companies or industries. However, Vice President-elect Pence remains Indiana's Governor for a few more weeks, and as Governor, Pence could offer the company a break on state taxes as well as other incentives (with final approval of the state legislature). Secondly, Chuck Jones, the President of United Steelworkers Local 1999, which represents the employees at Carrier, said neither Trump or Carrier involved the union in the process. Lastly, Carrier had originally said they were considering moving approximately 1400 to 2000 jobs south of the border. The deal saves just 1000 of those jobs, which is still a substantial number.

"The Donald" has also publicly said that he would revisit President Clinton's North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA, which pass crammed down the throats of American workers and small businesses despite loud objections from unions and small business owners. As some of you may recall, NAFTA was supposed to be some wondrous trade agreement that would simultaneously bring economic prosperity to businesses, manufacturers, and unions operating in Canada, Mexico, and the US. It was to serve as something akin to the EU and create a single North American economic trade zone. Instead, it helped Mexico by providing a cheap labor zone to bring parts and reship them back to the US or Canada. Meanwhile, the US and to a lesser extent, Canada, loss numerous, mostly middle class and union based, jobs. NAFTA, in effect, virtually destroyed the middle class in general and union jobs in particular. Now, we have President Obama working on a new secret trade agreement, Transpacific Trade Agreement, as the second linchpin to "opening borders". According to Trump, before the US proceeds further with the TTP, he wants to revisit NAFTA and possibly renegotiate some of the various agreements, which I think could be a good thing for small business owners and workers---especially union workers.

However, things aren't quite as they seem with newly elected President-to-be which I find a little troubling. In addition to taking credit for keeping Carrier in Indy, Trump claims that through his personal intervention, he was able to keep one of the Ford plants in Louisville, Kentucky running. According to Trump, Ford was planning on moving its Lincoln SUV operations to Mexico until he intervened through his "personal contacts" to keep production where it is. However, Ford representatives stated that there was never any intentions to move the operation to Mexico or anywhere else. Hum...well, ok then. Meanwhile, Pratt & Whitney, which manufactures jet engines and other components for the military announced through its parent company, United Technologies, that it would be closing some of its manufacturing plants and relocating operations to Mexico in order to save costs (in part through the use of non-union labor). President-elect Trump stated that he would see to it that United Technologies, which also owns Carrier, would be cut out of any future federal contracts if it did.

It is seriously questionable whether Trump, or any President for that matter, would have the authority to any say in who did or didn't get a federal contract. Of course, there are specific guidelines that everyone bidding on government contract must comply with, but assuming they do, what could a President really do? I guess he could, as Obama has been alleged to have done to some conservative groups, sic the IRS on them and harass them at every turn, but I doubt he'd actually do that given the amount of money these companies funnel into various political campaign coffers and the clout their lobbyist have on Capitol Hill.

So, what should we make of all this then? Is it a bunch of posturing or is it something more? Personally, I think it shows Trumps lack of political experience. What may work in executive board rooms doesn't translate well to the quid-pro-quo world of politics. There are also certain federal guidelines which are in place for a reason. Namely, to prevent political intimidation and retribution, no matter how well intended. I think we're also seeing Trump attempting to break the "Status Quo" mold of previous Presidents and at least to try to be independent. However, I think he will find that the Presidency isn't as powerful as it is perceived to be. There are limits to its power and ability to influence within some very defined boundaries.

Still, we seem to be witnessing Donald Trump's honest and sincere efforts to protect American jobs and stepping out front to lead; something Washington has been in severe short supply of for decades. People are beyond sick and tired of Washington politics. They know the political system is broken beyond any realistic hope of reform. They witnessed the open manipulation and biased boldfaced lying of the corporate news media. America is no longer a Constitutional or democratic republic. It is an Oligarchy with two sets of laws and two sets of standards.. A corporate/political ruling class on the one hand and all the rest of us---their economic serfs---on the other.

Trump, I believe, is our final hope of any peaceful restoration of the government that once was ours, and even at that, we are seeing daily protests by those who naively think that working with or within the system will actually change anything. They are just as stuck in this quagmire as the rest of us; maybe even more so since they are more dependent (think "chained") to the status quo than some and yet suffer the most for it. Meanwhile, the powers that be are doing their very best to keep each us divided in every possible way. The more we're at each other's throats, the less likely we are to turn our attention and anger toward them. Therefore, before jumping on the corporate media's bandwagon criticizing the President-elect, why don't we wait until he actually the becomes the President and give him some time to prove himself one way or the other. I suspect that if we give him a fair chance, we might be pleasantly surprised, and if not, then we're no worse off than we are now.

After Trump pledged to keep Carrier jobs in US, company says it won't move nearly 1000 jobs to Mexico

Trump didn't save as many Carrier jobs as he claimed

Timeline: 1000 Carrier jobs saved from moving to Mexico

Trump & Carrier reach deal to keep 1000 Indiana jobs from Moving to Mexico

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