CNN Money is giving Donald Trump exactly the kind of headline that he needs and wants by giving him credit for Ford’s decision to cancel plans to move some manufacturing jobs to Mexico. In this case, Ford will invest $700 million in a Flat Rock, Michigan plant that will “produce more electric and self-driving cars.” Originally, the plan was to build a new factory in Mexico, but that plan has been scaled back, the Ford Focus will be manufactured at a pre-existing Mexican plant, and the new-tech cars will be made in Michigan.
Ford’s CEO Mark Fields met with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence before making the announcement, but was careful to insist that he didn’t make any “deals” with Donald Trump. He did say, however, that the decision was a vote of confidence in Trump and his promises to ease regulations and pursue more pro-business policies.
United Auto Workers vice president Jimmy Settles was quick to take credit for saving American jobs, too.
For perspective, we’re talking about an estimated 700 jobs that were saved here, which is not small potatoes. But President Obama bailed out the auto industry and saved an estimated 1.5 million jobs (and made the government a profit while doing it). Ford now employs about 85,000 Americans, which is “up 28,000, or nearly 50%, in just the last five years.”
President Obama didn’t accomplish this by bullying CEO’s on Twitter and threatening to illegally slap a 35% tariff on individual companies. And he didn’t need to resort to lax regulation or some business-tilted tax scheme.
I think it’s quite plausible that Ford would have gone ahead with their original plan if Clinton had been elected, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to give Trump some credit for changing the calculus here. But he’ll get more mileage out of it than he deserves, especially when you consider how ungrateful folks turned out to be to President Obama.