Bernie Sanders Rips Trump for Smoke-and-Mirrors Carrier Deal: 'Workers Should Be Very Nervous'

On Wednesday, Donald Trump—taking a break from fabricating lies about illegal voting, whining about Broadway plays, and rare media truth-telling—boasted he had saved 1,000 jobs at air-conditioning company Carrier from being outsourced to Mexico.

Unlike earlier this month, when Trump outright lied about having a part in Ford’s decision not to move a plant from Kentucky to Mexico, the Carrier deal seems to actually be connected to moves made by Trump and his Vice President-elect Mike Pence, but they are not at all what Trump would have you believe about them. Those moves were classic examples of corporate wheeling and dealing that slide huge tax cuts and other bonuses to big business in exchange for small favors.

In a Washington Post op-ed Thursday morning, Bernie Sanders calls Trump out on his lousy deal, which will ultimately cost American workers dearly—the very people the president-elect pretended to care so much about during his campaign. 

“Today, about 1,000 Carrier workers and their families should be rejoicing,” Sanders writes. “But the rest of our nation’s workers should be very nervous.”

Trump is slated to crow about the deal with Carrier—which in based in Indiana, where Mike Pence remains governor—at the company’s factory Thursday. But saving 1,000 of the 2,100 jobs at Carrier is not good enough. "Trump made a promise that he would save all of these jobs," Sanders writes, "and we cannot rest until an ironclad contract is signed to ensure that all of these workers are able to continue working in Indiana without having their pay or benefits slashed.”

Worse still are the giveaways to Carrier's parent company, United Technologies. Sanders explains:

In exchange for allowing United Technologies to continue to offshore more than 1,000 jobs, Trump will reportedly give the company tax and regulatory favors that the corporation has sought. Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to “pay a damn tax.” He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States. Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. 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?

In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country.

While Trump has used the deal to garner more of the positive press he craves, Sanders points out that we are now sliding down an oil-slicked slope. The winner here is American big business, which has learned a valuable lesson—spelled out in dollar signs—that it can reap big benefits from empty promises to move abroad. Trump, who promised to be the country’s “negotiator in chief,” has shown that he’s more than willing to trade good PR for American worker stability and corporate profit. Sanders continues:

Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren’t thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be re-evaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America? The working class of America.  

Let’s be clear. United Technologies is not going broke. Last year, it made a profit of $7.6 billion and received more than $6 billion in defense contracts. It has also received more than $50 million from the Export-Import Bank and very generous tax breaks. In 2014, United Technologies gave its former chief executive Louis Chenevert a golden parachute worth more than $172 million. Last year, the company’s five highest-paid executives made more than $50 million. The firm also spent $12 billion to inflate its stock price instead of using that money to invest in new plants and workers.

Essentially, the deal Trump made amounts to corporate welfare, Sanders says, and will make inequality immeasurably worse. Sanders goes on to lament that “after running a campaign pledging to be tough on corporate America, Trump has hypocritically decided to do the exact opposite. He wants to treat corporate irresponsibility with kid gloves. The problem with our rigged economy is not that our policies have been too tough on corporations; it’s that we haven’t been tough enough.”

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