Carrier, Congress, and Cronies

“Crony capitalism” is the new buzzphrase, now that Donald Trump is cutting deals to keep jobs in the United States.  When previous presidents cut deals to allow companies to build new factories in Mexico and overseas while shutting down factories here, no one called it crony capitalism, even though it was; we called those deals “trade agreements” and “treaties”—or simply “NAFTA,” “GATT,” and “Most-Favored Nation status for China.”

Let’s be blunt: There is much that is wrong with the deal that Trump and Mike Pence struck with United Technologies over Thanksgiving weekend, but the problem is not that “crony capitalism” is being used now to benefit American workers rather than multinational corporations.  The fact that United Technologies employed rhetorical sleight of hand to claim that more than half of the 2,100 jobs (1,400 at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis; 700 at a United Technologies Electronic Controls plant in Huntington, 20 miles southwest of Fort Wayne) would be “saved” under the deal is a big clue, as is the fact that Trump and Pence let United Technologies get away with that sleight of hand.  The company claimed that 1,100 jobs would be saved, but, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “The deal would cover 800 Carrier workers from the Indianapolis furnace plant and an additional 300...

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