Donald Trump deserves some credit if Carrier Corp. does keep “close to 1,000 jobs” in Indianapolis as the company announced today. The company, a subsidiary of the industrial giant, United Technologies, said it reached a deal with Trump, who is slated to travel to the Hoosier State on Thursday to unveil the agreement.
Undoubtedly it will be a self-congratulatory affair, with Trump pronouncing himself an “amazing, incredible dealmaker” standing up for the “forgotten men and women of our country,” and a taste of the American greatness to come.
Don’t believe the hype. This announcement is part of Trump’s strategy of creating an alternate reality of him as an all-powerful strongman who can bend reality to his will. Saving hundreds of jobs can’t paper over the fact that his administration is putting in place policies to screw over tens of millions of workers.
Here’s the backstory. Carrier became a campaign issue when it announced in February that it would transfer 2,100 jobs to Mexico as a money-making move. As such, Carrier is now saying it still plans to eliminate 1,100 jobs. That’s a big lump of coal for those families. And these deals are nearly impossible to enforce, so Carrier can easily continue to send more jobs to Mexico down the road when the cameras are no longer trained on the company.
To be fair, Trump appears to be showing that it is possible to slow the bleeding of jobs out of the country. This is in contrast to what liberals claim, “Nothing policy can do will bring back … lost jobs.”
Trump’s masterstroke looks to be using the power of the federal government as a huge purchaser. United Technologies racked up some $56 billion in revenue last year. Of that, some $7.1 billion came from the U.S. government in the form of military equipment and funds for research and development.
Trump looks to have done what Clinton and Obama should have been doing for the 16 years they sat in the Oval Office. Instead, they shrugged their shoulders as 5 million manufacturing jobs disappeared and then prattled on about retraining middle-aged workers for high-tech jobs that are few in number.
This is classic Trump, of course, the combination of theater and threats. The media are already hinting Trump leaned on the company like a mob boss: “Nice Pentagon contract you got there, wouldn’t want to see anything happen to it.”
But it will also come with promises of a bonanza for corporations. The New York Times reported that Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is also governor of Indiana, will reiterate their “campaign pledges to be friendlier to business by easing regulations and overhauling the corporate tax code. In addition, Mr. Trump is expected to tone down his rhetoric threatening 35 percent tariffs on companies like Carrier that shift production south of the border.”
In other words, this is like an organized-crime deal: keep some of the jobs and we will give you kickbacks of huge tax breaks and a free hand to trash the environment and consumer safety.
But here’s the real kick in the teeth for workers. Even as he will pronounce himself “God Emperor of Jobs,” Trump is swiftly making plans to whack tens of millions of American workers every way to Sunday.
For Labor Secretary, Trump is reportedly down to choosing between the union-busting Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin or Andy Puzder, the “CEO of of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of the fast-food burger chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.” This means putting an enemy of unions and of the Fight for $15-an-hour minimum wage movement, and of all pro-worker policies in charge of economic policies. With the federal minimum wage stuck at $7.25, it is highly unlikely a right-wing Congress and administration will raise it. Currently, 42 percent of the American workforce, more than 67 million workers, earn less than $15 an hour.
Pudzer opposes any increase to the minimum wage. He also opposes the Obama rule that would extend overtime pay to 4.2 million workers. While a judge recently issued an injunction against that rule, it did not kill it. But Trump’s department of labor will almost certainly do that, and even if it doesn’t, Trump gets to pick the swing vote on the Supreme Court and has proclaimed he will pick a new justice in “the mold of” the far-right anti-worker Antonin Scalia.
Then there is Obamacare. Trump is gunning to repeal the law as one of his first acts. He has no plans to replace it other than flimsy tax credits. According to one analysis, Trump’s plan would mean 22 million Americans would lose their healthcare after a repeal. And only 1 million of them would be able to jump through all the hoops in Trump’s plan to keep their insurance. In fact, Paul Krugman calculates that some 5.5 million Trump voters will lose their healthcare coverage.
And this is what a Trump administration looks like just three weeks into the transition to his four-year reality TV show of Tweets and threats and bombast distracting from Dickensian economic policies. There will be unrelenting attacks on worker rights, on wages, on workplace safety, even basic Constitutional freedoms that are vital for workers to organize for their interests. And he gets to play the strongman, laughing all the way to bank as he and his spawn are already lining their pockets with shady foreign deals, as the New York Times revealed.
Trump crowing about saving hundreds of jobs at Carrier is typical of his bait-and-switch tactics. A few get breadcrumbs, while everyone else gets the shaft.