“I’ll be the greatest president for jobs that God ever created.”
I giggled a bit when I heard President-elect Donald Trump first say that — amused and intrigued at the ambition and confidence in the statement.
We need jobs — so many people in the Rust Belt and elsewhere are hurting — but it was bold.
Flash forward to 2017, and Mr. Trump is delivering on his promise — before he has even been sworn-in as president.
Mr. Trump has the bully pulpit, pro-growth policies of lower taxes and regulations, and the negotiating skills needed in order to get Ford Motor Co. to scrap its plans to build a $1.6 billion small car plant in Mexico. The car maker announced its plans on Tuesday, hours after Mr. Trump chastised General Motors Co. for importing compact cars from Mexico on Twitter.
Mr. Trump has doggedly been going after corporations that he thinks are hurting the American economy — calling them out on his Twitter account and at his massive rallies. He’s blasted corporations planning on moving jobs overseas or south of the border, and has lambasted the titans of defense for what he sees as overpriced weapons and Air Force One.
And he’s found results.
In the weeks following his election, Mr. Trump announced air-conditioner plant Carrier Corp. planned on saving some of its jobs at its Indiana plant that it was going to move south of the border. Indiana Gov. and vice president-elect Mike Pence offered the company some state subsidies in order to solidify the deal.
Boeing, the maker of Air Force One, responded it would “deliver the best planes for the president at the best value for the American taxpayer.” At least now the company is thinking about the U.S. taxpayer, not the goldmine that is the U.S. government.
Ford’s Tuesday announcement is expected to result in 700 new jobs in Detroit. The car maker’s CEO Mark Fields said the move was “a vote of confidence for President-elect Trump and the policies he may be pursuing.” In November, Ford said it would keep production of its Lincoln sport-utility vehicles at a plant in Louisiana rather than move them to Mexico.
Mr. Fields was quick to tell reporters on Tuesday that he “didn’t cut a deal with Trump. We did it for business.”
Still, it’s impossible to say without Mr. Trump’s strong-arming, and focus on the U.S. economy and manufacturing jobs, if Ford would’ve made the same decision.
Mr. Trump has been accused by his critics of picking winners and losers in the marketplace, and not being able to prevent corporate offshoring without hurting the U.S. economy overall.
Indeed, massive tax breaks and deregulation is going to have to happen in order to both sustain the stock market’s recent highs and prove his naysayers wrong. Major policy reforms on trade deals and tariffs will likely need to be made, some of which may be disruptive.
Yet, it’s impossible not to feel good about Mr. Trump’s economic wins thus far. On Tuesday, the consumer confidence index hit a record high, with the increase almost entirely based on future expectations.
The U.S. manufacturing sector also entered the New Year with its best growth in two years.
“This is a reflection of consumer activity, and I think people are just feeling better for whatever reason about the economy,” Bradley Holcomb, who oversees the Institute for Supply Management, told the Wall Street Journal of the manufacturing sector finishing 2016 with its strongest growth in the last two years.
Will Mr. Trump’s individual corporate successes be contagious and spread to other companies? Can his message translate into broader U.S. policies that reinvigorate GDP growth?
Given his track record thus far, I wouldn’t doubt it. In fact, I’d bet on it.