President-elect Donald Trump took a victory lap on Thursday, appearing in Indiana to salute workers at a factory that he made a campaign promise to save.
The Midwest swing is the first time Trump, who has shown an early inclination to revel in the role of showman-in-chief, has barnstormed across the country since the campaign. And both stops will feature Trump declaring victory after a campaign built on the lament that "we don't win anymore" as a nation.
Trump used the air-conditioning company Carrier's decision to keep an Indianapolis plant open as a backdrop to push his pro-business and trade reform agenda that he campaigned on in the election.
"Companies are not going to leave the united states anymore without consequences," he told the crowd at the Carrier plant. "Not going to happen."
Trump then vowed to cut the business tax from 35 percent to 15 percent and to reduce federal regulations, both of which were policy positions he touted during the campaign.
But some questions remain about the extent of victory at Carrier, which announced this week that it will keep an Indianapolis plant open. In February, the heating and air conditioning company said that it would shutter the plant and send jobs to Mexico, and video of angry workers being informed about the decision soon went viral.
The Republican businessman seized upon the impending closure and made it a key theme in his campaign, pledging to save that factory and ones like it as part of his plan to rebuild the American manufacturing industry while preventing jobs from fleeing overseas. Trump threatened to impose sharp tariffs on any company that shifted its factories to Mexico. And his advisers have since promoted lower corporate tax rates as a means of keeping jobs in the U.S.
But the scant details that have emerged so far raise doubts how many jobs will be saved.
According to the Wall Street Journal, officials in Indiana will provide Carrier with $7 million in tax breaks over a decade as part of the agreement. Carrier will invest $16 million to keep its manufacturing operations in Indiana, the report said.
Carrier said in a statement Thursday that "The state of Indiana has offered Carrier a $7 million package over multiple years, contingent upon factors including employment, job retention and capital investment."
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By enabling the plant to stay open, the deal spares about 800 union workers whose jobs were going to be outsourced to Mexico, according to federal officials who were briefed by the company. This suggests that hundreds will still lose their jobs at the factory, where roughly 1,400 workers were slated to be laid off.
Also, neither Trump nor Carrier has yet to say what the workers might have to give up or precisely what threats or incentives were used to get the manufacturer to change its mind. The company attributed its decision to the incoming Trump administration and financial incentives provided by Indiana, which is something of a reversal, since earlier offers from the state had failed to sway Carrier from decamping to Mexico.
"Today's announcement is possible because the incoming Trump-Pence administration has emphasized to us its commitment to support the business community and create an improved, more competitive U.S. business climate," the company said in a statement released Wednesday.
Trump's deal with Carrier may be a public relations success for the incoming president but also suggests that he has unveiled a new presidential economic approach: actively choosing individual corporate winners and losers — or at least winners. To critics who see other Indiana factories on the verge of closing, deals like the one at Carrier are unlikely to stem the job losses caused by automation and cheap foreign competition, and the prospect that the White House might directly intervene is also a concern to some economists.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders blasted Trump's deal with Carrier, writing in a Washington Post op-ed Thursday that president-elect broke his campaign promise to American workers.
"Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut," Sanders wrote. "Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?"