On Tuesday night, the president-elect took a break from tweeting baseless claims about voter fraud to talk about a manufacturing plant in Indiana that makes heating and cooling equipment:
Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies, had announced back in February the plan to move nearly 2,000 jobs from Indiana to Mexico in order to “operate more cost effectively.” (United Technologies is a Fortune 500 company with $56 billion in annual revenue, so clearly times are tight.)
But on Tuesday, Carrier announced, after reported negotiations with the president- and vice president-elect, that it now plans to keep “close to 1,000” jobs in Indianapolis.
Shortly after, The New York Times picked up the story and called the reported deal a sign that Trump “is a different kind of Republican, willing to take on big business, at least in individual cases.”
So how did Trump take on big business?
More from the Times:
In exchange for keeping the factory running in Indianapolis, Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence are expected to reiterate their campaign pledges to be friendlier to businesses by easing regulations and overhauling the corporate tax code, according to a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump.
The state of Indiana also plans to give economic incentives to Carrier as part of the deal to stay, according to local officials.
Other reported aspects of the deal, according to The Wall Street Journal, include discussions of a tax enticement for companies like United Technologies that keep money overseas—85% of the company’s profits are currently held outside the United States: “United Technologies, like other globalized U.S. companies, also has large reserves of cash overseas—profits that corporations are waiting to repatriate to the U.S. until Congress cuts the level of tax they would pay.”
For his part, Trump has already made it clear that he plans to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. And at the state level, Indiana is already implementing a plan to bring that rate down to 4.9% by 2021.
Members of Congress, like Bernie Sanders, have pushed for legislation that would block companies that outsource jobs from receiving federal contracts while hitting them with additional taxes—United Technologies currently makes about 10% of its revenue from military contracts—but Trump has backed away from his protectionist campaign rhetoric in recent weeks.
So it seems that in exchange for keeping “close to 1,000” jobs in Indiana, Trump, with the assistance of his vice president-elect who is currently the governor of the state in question, appears to have promised the company a tax windfall and fewer regulations.
This is not Trump taking on big business, this is Trump sending up a flare that massive corporations can use their workers as hostages to get whatever tax and regulatory terms they want in return.
And while the jobs remaining in Indianapolis are currently union positions that offer a living wage, the strength of those unions is less assured under a Trump administration: the president-elect has already expressed support for a national right-to-work law, essentially scaling up the kind of union-gutting law that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker used to decimate the power of organized labor in his state.
This is a long con on workers. Trump is good at those.