Thursday, December 8, 2016
The Carrier Deal: "Politician Trump" In a Nutshell
Trump made a really big deal during the campaign that he was not a politician. He said he, unlike the long line of useless, weak and “dumb” political ignoramuses that had come before him, understood not only how best to govern but more importantly, how best to get the economic engine in America moving again. Specifically, he said he would be the best one to create jobs and keep jobs here.
This was on display August 12th in Erie, Pennsylvania. Trump was all puffed up, said “Crooked Hillary” didn’t “have a clue” about jobs, and went on a tear about how weak and ineffectual the usual political tricks were in preventing companies from moving jobs out of the US. He called out tax abatements, low or zero interest loans and other perks as “dumb” ways to keep companies here and the crowd ate it up and chanted his name. This was in the heart of steel country, after all, an area long neglected by Democrats and Republicans alike. So they responded to the attention, very expectedly, and one cannot necessarily blame them for missing Stage 1 of the long con.
For all his bashing of normal politics, Trump has made a very shrewdly political turn before he’s even managed to officially take the oath of office. He took advantage of his Vice President-Elect being governor of Carrier’s home state, took advantage of the fact that their parent company is a big government contractor, and added 7 million of Indiana’s tax dollars on top as a cherry. Candidate Trump thinks tax incentives are “dumb,” but President-Elect Trump thinks they are just the thing to Make America Great Again. And since everything political in America is about “your team vs my team,” Republican apologists and Trump true believers are lining up to say how great a deal this was for all concerned. It’s pure unmitigated bullshit, pure and simple.
Politically it was a shrewd move, seemingly widely supported by most of America. I have gotten into arguments with Trump supporters already, and have seen other supporters in public say the same things. They say Trump kept his promise, that $7 million is a drop in the bucket next to the cost of unemployment and benefits for workers without jobs and that we need to do things like this to stem the globalist tide of offshoring. But I have only one question for you: if Trump said politicians are weak, and that tax incentives are bad, how can I believe anything you or he says when he does a complete 180 degree flip-flop mere months later and you applaud him for it? And how repeatable do you think such “deals” are in a state where the VP-elect is not the governor, or where the governor isn’t compliant to Trump’s brand of “deal making?”
For all his emphatic talk about politicians, how slimy they are, how prone they are to lobbyists and special interests and all the rest, Trump will end up being like any other politician. He will be compliant to lobbyists, he will throw his own ideals and promises overboard during his term whenever circumstances require it and he will fail to come through for many of the people he said he would be a “champion” for. These are things presidents do: just ask any enthusiastic Obama supporter from 2008. This is the first of many, many flip-flops and I plan to rub every Trump supporter’s nose in it for the next four years. Which is it: was Candidate Trump right, are tax incentives which even conservative pundits have conceded are just a form of income redistribution, bad? Or are they part of good “deal making” like President-elect Trump thinks?
This story though, like anything related to Trump, has an interesting twist. After the leader of the local union got on television and called Trump out for a “promise half-delivered,” citing that the number of jobs actually saved was misreported, Trump replied in a snarky manner on Twitter as he is wont to do. An observation: this is going to be a long four years for Trump if he still cannot learn to pick his battles. One cannot respond to every two bit union leader who throws some shade his way or one will have no time left to govern. Being president is making people upset, it was after all Abraham Lincoln that said “You can please some of the people all of the time or all of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.” Trump would be well served to just shut the hell up and let his policies stand for compliment or criticism on their own without personal comment but I doubt he will. He is the most thin-skinned person to ever hold the office of President in modern times, and an intellectual child. He simply cannot let things pass.
This is what we’re in for, folks. The man cannot even go through December without holding rallies full of people chanting his name but this is not what the job entails. The job, as we have seen unquestionably during the Bush and Obama years, is being burned in effigy on a daily basis and managing to govern anyway. And while Trump was able to pull a classic political flip-flop in feeding Americans the very thing he criticized as a candidate and make them (mostly) thank him for it, he will not be even remotely successful in accomplishing his goals if every bit of criticism draws him off task. Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Trump. This job may not be all you thought it was. To those who supported him: get ready to be disappointed. Union workers are already having buyer’s remorse and it’ll be downhill from here.