During the general election campaign, Carrier, which makes air conditioners, announced that it was moving 1,000 jobs from Indianapolis to Mexico. That Carrier would make that announcement when it did, and garner with it the headlines it did, may have been purely coincidental. Or, maybe not.
Kim Jung Don seized on Carrier’s announcement, predictably, as proof of the failings of the Obama administration and, of course, as another reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton. Once he became the President, Trump promised, companies would know better than to move jobs from the United States. He would make deals – the best deals, you’ve never seen such great deals – to keep American jobs here at home.
When Carrier announced last night that it had struck a deal with Trump and Pence, and it would no longer be moving most of those jobs out of the country, Fox News breathlessly reported that “this consummate deal maker and now president-elect has now put his negotiating savvy to work for the American people.” Trump’s deal, the headline blared, was proof that he was “already making America great again.”
This made the Laughing Chimps wonder: what persuaded Carrier to change course? Was it really Dear Leader’s iron-fisted leadership and keen dealmaking abilities? You may be shocked to learn that the answer is – probably not. Turns out that Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, has lucrative contracts to supply the military with, among other things, jet engines and parts. Those contracts are worth billions of dollars, so it may be that United Technologies decided it was worth keeping a few hundred manufacturing jobs here to protect that revenue stream.
Or maybe – just maybe – it’s because Indiana agreed to provide Carrier with new tax credits and “incentives,” all of which, to put it rather euphemistically, “helped clear a path for the agreement.” With specifics in short supply, the Chimps doubt that we’ll ever know exactly how much these tax credits and incentives might be worth to Carrier. But we bet we can come up with a reasonable estimate: figure out how much Carrier would have saved in labor and related costs by moving about a thousand jobs to Mexico over a period of, say, ten years. We’re willing to bet a shiny new tire swing that Indiana is forking over something in that ballpark – plus or minus, say, 15%, to Carrier.
Now, is any of this unusual? More importantly, is it evidence of Trump’s dealmaking prowess, as he and his sycophants would have us believe? Nope. It’s bog-standard politics. If you’re the governor of, say, Indiana (at least for another 50 days or so), and if you want to make your new boss and his incoming administration look good, one way to do that is to buy some jobs for your state, paid for with state dollars. This kind of thing happens every day. It’s Politics 101, and it’s about as far removed from sophisticated dealmaking as Donald Trump is from competent governing. Which is to say, not even in the same fucking galaxy.
Why, then, do the Laughing Chimps bother making a point of it? Because Dear Leader has, in essence, announced that the corporate ATM is now open for business. If you’re a sizable company anywhere in the country, and you decide you could use some public funds to improve your cash flow, add to the bottom line, or maybe fund bonus payouts to top execs, just announce plans to move a bunch of jobs to Mexico. Trump will meet you at the border. On our side of the wall – the one he’ll need to build to keep American jobs here.
Oh, and if you do that, be sure to put Carrier on your year-end Christmas card list. After all, it was Carrier that showed you how to play Trump like a cheap fiddle. America’s greatest dealmaker just got taken out for a walk.