Trump Takes Twitter Aim at Companies Looking to Move Jobs Abroad

by admin December 4, 2016 at 7:04 pm

President-elect Donald J. Trump during a tour of a Carrier plant in Indianapolis last week.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump on Sunday renewed his hard line on American companies that plan to shift operations abroad, using a series of early-morning Twitter posts to warn again that “there will be a tax” of 35 percent levied against goods moved “back across the border” for sale.

The Twitter messages came days after Mr. Trump went to Indiana to celebrate a decision by the heating and cooling giant Carrier to keep in that state about half of the 2,000 jobs it had planned to eliminate as it moved production to Mexico.

But in the case of Carrier, it was not a large tariff that prompted it to retain the American jobs. It was $7 million in incentives from the State of Indiana, the sort of corporate giveaway that Mr. Trump railed against during the campaign.

Moreover, replicating the Carrier success would be difficult on a large scale — an American president has limited tools to counter the global economic forces that prompt companies to shift production to lower-wage countries. And because taxes cannot be directed at specific companies, any tariffs would have to be broad, and therefore broadly painful.

In his Twitter posts, Mr. Trump said: “The U.S. is going to substantially reduce taxes and regulations on businesses, but any 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!”

A 35 percent tariff, he said, “will make leaving financially difficult, but these companies are able to move between all 50 states, with no tax or tariff being charged.”

“Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake!” he added. “THE UNITED STATES IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS.”

Mr. Trump had signaled a day before that he planned to continue to apply pressure to companies considering moves abroad, singling out on Twitter another Indiana company, the bearing manufacturer Rexnord.

“Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers,” he wrote. “This is happening all over our country. No more!”

Vice President-elect Mike Pence played down the punitive aspects of Mr. Trump’s proposals in television interviews Sunday morning, dismissing the suggestion that Mr. Trump was picking “winners and losers” or that he had inappropriately intervened in the Carrier case.

“No, I don’t think it’s picking winners and losers at all,” Mr. Pence said on ABC’s “This Week.” “What the president-elect did with Carrier was simply reach out one American to another and ask them to reconsider.”

Mr. Pence said that Mr. Trump had used the case to telegraph to companies thinking of moving operations abroad that he would pursue an aggressively pro-business policy agenda, including lowering corporate taxes and easing regulations, as well as renegotiating trade deals to protect American jobs.

“He’s going to put on the table all the tools that are going to take away the advantages of companies that for far too long have been pulling up stakes, leaving American workers behind,” Mr. Pence said.

Asked if Mr. Trump would intervene directly with other companies planning to move jobs out of the United States, Mr. Pence said decisions would be made “on a day-by-day basis.”

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