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Thursday, December 1, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President-elect Donald Trump is sending a direct and simple message: “America is back in business.”


Weeks before even taking the oath of office, Mr. Trump on Thursday struck a deal with Carrier Corp. to keep 1,000 manufacturing jobs in Indiana that the company had planned to move to Mexico. During the Obama administration, there were more stories about jobs leaving the United States than those that were staying.

Mr. Trump’s determination to personally woo American businesses to stay put and re-energize the American economy could become the cornerstone of his time in office. The Trump-Carrier deal is a positive step in preserving jobs in America and encouraging a healthy dialogue between companies and the government. It’s about figuring out the incentives that motivate companies to stay. And what we are learning is that with Mr. Trump, this is not just a one-time offer but a “package deal” where companies will find a business-friendly environment, actively nurtured by the government, that leads them naturally to invest in American workers.

Beyond talking to individual companies, Mr. Trump is also pushing tax reform and regulatory relief that would also bring capital and investment back to the United States. His administration would focus on reducing the corporate tax to 15 percent, cutting taxes and repealing Obamacare. Secretary of Treasury nominee Steven Mnuchin has already addressed one of the administration’s top priorities, which is to “strip back” the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law and reduce the regulatory burden on the nation’s lenders. It’s an approach that would help regional banks and allow for more lending to small and mid-size businesses, the real engine of our economy.

Critics argue that moves like Mr. Trump’s Carrier gambit are purely symbolic — too little and too late to save the country’s manufacturers from severe low-cost foreign competition. The manufacturing industry has been in decline for decades due to automation and labor cost. Those factors may be real, but Mr. Trump is proving unwilling to give up the fight that easily, especially when good American jobs are at stake.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest tried to knock Mr. Trump’s success, arguing President Obama’s policies had created and saved far more jobs than the 1,000 or so at stake at Carrier.

“If Trump is successful in doing that 804 more times, then he will meet the record number of manufacturing jobs” Mr. Obama “created,” Mr. Earnest sniped. Jealously, perhaps?

Mr. Obama, who once conceded the “jobs of the past are just not going to come back,” unwisely ridiculed what he said was Mr. Trump’s overestimation of his own negotiating skills during the campaign.

The outgoing president remarked Mr. Trump “just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’ Well, how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually, the answer is he doesn’t have an answer.” This week Mr. Trump’s response would be: “Carrier.”

Mr. Obama’s time is up, and the verdict is already in: Under his watch, millions of manufacturing jobs left the United States. In April 2016 Mr. Obama himself stated: “We have so many companies leaving us, it is disgraceful” when he criticized companies that shield profit overseas through corporate inversions, setting up their headquarters in more tax-friendly foreign markets.

Mr. Trump promised to bring those companies and their tax revenues back, and the American worker is counting on him. The Carrier deal gives them hope that Mr. Trump sticks to his word. For now, it’s 1,000 jobs preserved, but the larger question will be how many more jobs the president-elect will be able to create with his pro-investment, pro-market policies.

Mr. Trump’s latest triumph is an example of how he will lead. He is results-driven, an unconventional leader who refuses to accept business as usual and a slow-moving bureaucracy. The direct contact with businesses like Carrier shows how he can get results. His style of leadership is already forcing U.S. companies to re-evaluate their own plans and adjusting how they will do business.

This is a win-win for our economy, as both American workers and the communities devastated by manufacturing’s decline prosper.

Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.


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