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Sunday, December 04, 2016

Cartoon leadership

by digby

Think Progress:
During a press conference on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was asked what he thought about the sweetheart deal President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence struck with United Technology to keep about 1,000 Carrier manufacturing jobs in Indiana in exchange for millions of dollars in incentives. 
“Well I’m pretty happy that we’re keeping jobs in America, aren’t you?” Ryan said to a reporter, adding that he couldn’t speak to the specifics of the deal, which won’t prevent 1,300 Carrier jobs from relocating to Mexico from Indiana. “I think it’s pretty darn good that people are keeping their jobs in Indiana instead of going to Mexico.”

Ryan’s response was a significant departure from what he’s said in the past about deals like the Carrier one. On Tax Day last year, Ryan released a statement blasting President Obama for allegedly wanting to provide “special carve-outs to his favorite industries.”

“Our tax code should not pick winners and losers,” Ryan wrote on behalf of a “simpler, flatter” tax code. “Our country can’t reach its potential with a tax code that punishes people for reaching their own.”
Ryan reiterated that sentiment in a video clip he shared to Twitter in July.

Even supporters of the Carrier deal acknowledge the approach Trump and Pence have taken is unsustainable. Scott Paul, president of the advocacy group the Alliance for American Manufacturing, told the New York Times that “Carrier is special because it happened at the right time and the right place and it gained a high profile. But obviously, Donald Trump and Mike Pence can’t intervene every time a plant closes.”

Actually that's exactly what Trump proposed over and over again on the trail. This is what he said on the day he announced his candidacy:

One of the early things I would do, probably before I even got in -- and I wouldn't even use -- you know, I have -- I know the smartest negotiators in the world. I know the good ones. I know the bad ones. I know the overrated ones.

You get a lot of them that are overrated. They're not good. They think they are. They get good stories, because the newspapers get buffaloed (ph). But they're not good.

But I know the negotiators in the world, and I put them one for each country. Believe me, folks. We will do very, very well, very, very well.

But I wouldn't even waste my time with this one. I would call up the head of Ford, who I know. If I was president, I'd say, "Congratulations. I understand that you're building a nice $2.5 billion car factory in Mexico and that you're going to take your cars and sell them to the United States zero tax, just flow them across the border."

And you say to yourself, "How does that help us," right? "How does that help us? Where is that good"? It's not.

So I would say, "Congratulations. That's the good news. Let me give you the bad news. Every car and every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we're going to charge you a 35-percent tax, and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction, and that's it.

Now, here's what is going to happen. If it's not me in the position, it's one of these politicians that we're running against, you know, the 400 people that we're (inaudible). And here's what's going to happen. They're not so stupid. They know it's not a good thing, and they may even be upset by it. But then they're going to get a call from the donors or probably from the lobbyist for Ford and say, "You can't do that to Ford, because Ford takes care of me and I take care of you, and you can't do that to Ford."

And guess what? No problem. They're going to build in Mexico. They're going to take away thousands of jobs. It's very bad for us.

So under President Trump, here's what would happen:


The head of Ford will call me back, I would say within an hour after I told them the bad news. But it could be he'd want to be cool, and he'll wait until the next day. You know, they want to be a little cool.

And he'll say, "Please, please, please." He'll beg for a little while, and I'll say, "No interest." Then he'll call all sorts of political people, and I'll say, "Sorry, fellas. No interest," because I don't need anybody's money. It's nice. I don't need anybody's money.

I'm using my own money. I'm not using the lobbyists. I'm not using donors. I don't care. I'm really rich. I (inaudible).


And by the way, I'm not even saying that in a -- that's the kind of mindset, that's the kind of thinking you need for this country.

What an alpha-male, right? Too bad his actual record doesn't match his juvenile braggadocio.

Now, this is not what happened with Ford or Carrier, we know that. Basically, Ford did what they were going to do anyway and curried favor with Trump by blowing smoke. And they got Carrier to save about 800 of the 2000 jobs they were planning to transfer to Mexico by handing them a big fat subsidy paid for by the taxpayers of Indiana, something Pence had refused to do just a couple of years ago.

Essentially, Trump's plan is to intervene in any proposed jobs move to Mexico that comes to his attention. But instead of giving them ultimatums about tariffs (something the Carrier folks explicitly made a part of their deal) he's going to give them everybody's hard earned tax dollars to keep a few jobs in the US, make huge profits and give Trump a big PR victory while making the lives of all the non-photo op workers in America demonstrably worse in every way. What a deal.

But don't say he didn't warn us. He said from the beginning that his economic plan was to hire billionaires and personally intervene to stop job losses when he became aware of them. That's ridiculous. People knew it. But he won anyway because he sounded like a big macho hero who would step in personally to save the day. Like Superman. That's what they voted for. A cartoon character. And that's what they got.

By the way, the Superman iconography was all over the campaign: