In the days following President Trump’s inauguration, he’s made quite a few high-profile and questionable — though expected — moves including the Dodd-Frank rollbacks and the now-defunct immigration ban.
But perhaps the moves that best indicate what’s in store for the next four years are the moves affecting labor, either directly or indirectly. We have an administration more focused on image than the welfare of the American people.
Trump, ever the salesman, touts these moves as actions that will create thousands of well-paying, long-term American jobs. However, the reality of the numbers doesn’t match the representation. In late November, United Technologies made the decision to end a plan that would have moved more than 2000 factory jobs from Indiana to Mexico in response to a mix of Trump transition team tariff threats and tax incentives.
“But I will tell you that United Technologies and Carrier stepped it up and now they’re keeping — actually the number’s over 1,100 people, which is so great,” Trump said during a Dec. 1 speech when he announced the deal.
As many might guess, this number wasn’t correct.
Many news outlets were quick to point out that the number of saved jobs was closer to 800. Trump had included 300 jobs that were already slated to stay in the United States. Can we expect 4 years of not being able to trust announcements from the president and then watching Sean Spicer — whose job I certainly don’t envy — try to spin truth from Trump’s easily demonstrable exaggerations?
This however, was not the end of the Trump-Carrier saga. Not only did the number of saved jobs shrink to 730 in the following week, but Carrier announced it would be terminating existing jobs in the future.
The original plan called for a $16 million investment in the plant. And while this investment may sound good at face value, the truth is that it will destroy even more jobs at the plant per United Technologies chief executive Greg Hayes.
“We’re going to … automate to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive,” Hayes said in an interview with CNN. “What that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs,” he continued.
So, Trump forced this company to stay in the United States on the threat of tariffs as high as 35 percent and announced a figure of saved jobs that was 150 percent of the actual number, of which many will be terminated in the future due to the shortcomings of the deal.
And while articles like this may talk about the discrepancies between Trump’s boastings and reality, the plain and simple fact is that every single job is a person trying to put food on the dinner table, send their children to college and save enough to retire before they die.
“Now I can put my daughter through college without having to look for another job,” Robin Maynard, a 24-year veteran of the Carrier factory, said. This relief was short-lived for many Carrier employees, as they found out they were not on lucky 37 percent of United Technologies employees keeping their jobs.
This reminds me of a quote from Rick Perlstein in reaction to a Trump statement during the first presidential debate in August 2015.
Trump said: “I had the good sense … seven years ago I left Atlantic City before it totally cratered, and I made a lot of money in Atlantic City, and I’m very proud of it. I want to tell you that. Very, very proud of it.”
“In our case, the basis instincts involve this cliche of running the country like a business. And one of the things that fascinated me so much … he said he got out Atlantic City … before it cratered,” Perlstein said about the statement in an Open Source podcast titled “Trump This!”
“You know, if you’re talking about a city with flesh-and-blood people, when something craters there are bodies underneath … we don’t run a country like we run a business because running a country is about maximizing the good for lots of folks,” he continued.
It makes sense that a businessman who made his fortune in branding would stretch the limits of truth. The difference between real estate and politics is that now people’s livelihoods are on the line. This current administration is purely focused on image, and when they’re criticized they claim “fake news.” Now more than ever, the American people must look at the White House press releases with a critical eye.