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Trump's claims about jobs saved at Carrier come into question

Donald Trump claimed his Carrier deal will save "over 1,100" jobs. The actual number is much lower -- and dropping.
President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence wave as they visit to Carrier factory, Dec. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)
President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence wave as they visit to Carrier factory, Dec. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis, Ind.
Donald Trump visited a Carrier plant in Indiana last week, touting his role in a controversial deal in which the company will receive $7 million in taxpayer money to save some domestic jobs, even as Carrier announced plans to move even more jobs to Mexico. As part of his appearance, the president-elect referenced some relatively specific numbers."I will tell you that United Technologies and Carrier stepped it up," he said, "and now they're keeping -- actually the number's over 1,100 people, which is so great, which is so great."Is that true? Not exactly. WTHR, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, took a closer look and found that the agreement "may not have saved as many factory jobs" as Trump claimed.

"We found out today that more jobs are leaving than what we originally thought," [Carrier worker T.J. Bray, who's also a communications rep for the union] said. "It seemed like since Thursday, it was 1,100 [jobs saved] then it was maybe 900 and then now we're at 700. So I'm hoping it doesn't go any lower than that."Union workers got a letter at the plant saying Trump's deal with Carrier will save only 730 factory jobs in Indianapolis, plus 70 salaried positions -- 553 jobs in the plant's fan coil lines are still moving to Monterrey, Mexico. All 700 workers at Carrier's Huntington plant will also lose their jobs.

As for Trump's "1,100" figure, the president-elect was apparently including 350 research and development jobs that, according to the local report, "were never going to move to Mexico in the first place. Those were jobs that Carrier said all along would stay in Indianapolis."Hmm. So Trump is directing $7 million to a company that's sending more jobs to Mexico than it's keeping in the U.S.; he's relying on the opposite policy he promised to pursue as a candidate; and he's exaggerating the number of saved jobs.This is the president-elect's big public-relations triumph?On a related note, over the weekend, Trump turned to -- what else? -- Twitter to share some thoughts on his outsourcing policy: "[A]ny business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. without retribution or consequence, is WRONG! There will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35% for these companies wanting to sell their product, cars, A.C. units etc., back across the border."On Sunday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence added that Trump will make these decisions about which companies to punish "on a day-by-day basis."This is a pretty ridiculous approach to policymaking. For one thing, with Carrier, Trump has already shown he doesn't intend to make use of his own policy, undermining the credibility of his threats. For another, Trump can't unilaterally impose a 35% tariff and Congress' Republican majority made clear yesterday it strongly opposes this idea.But even looking past this, there are certain conservative principles that are being shredded here. To hear Trump and Pence tell it, the incoming administration intends to arbitrarily punish companies based on whether or not the White House approves of their business decisions, picking winners and losers as Trump deems necessary.Since when is the right comfortable with tactics like these?