2011 Ford Motor Co. Flex sport utility vehicles (SUV) sit on display at the Capital Ford dealership in Raleigh, N.C. on Feb. 26, 2011.
Donald Trump declared with pride yesterday morning, “Big announcement by Ford today. Major investment to be made in three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!” Soon after, Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to the president, added that Ford’s investments come just “two weeks after” Trump’s meeting with auto-industry executives.
The implication wasn’t subtle: Americans are supposed to believe that the president met with industry leaders, which led to Ford’s good news soon after.
But the White House’s latest effort to take credit for good economic news is eerily similar to its previous efforts – which is to say, it was wildly misleading. CNBC reported:
The White House on Tuesday promoted a Ford investment in American plants, most of which was part of a plan the automaker first announced in 2015.
The U.S. auto giant on Tuesday outlined new details of its planned $9 billion in U.S. facility investments through 2019. The company said it planned to create or retain 8,500 jobs as part of its 2015 contract with the United Auto Workers.
A company spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeef that “the majority of what was announced” yesterday was the result of “the 2015 UAW contract.”
Steven Rattner, who oversaw President Obama’s successful rescue of the American auto industry eight years ago, noted the news and asked, “When will [Trump] stop misleading people?”
That need not be a rhetorical question. As we discussed the other day, Trump has trumpeted jobs announcements in recent months – from Ford, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Walmart, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Softbank, Sprint, Alibaba, and Charter Communications – in which the president sought credit for developments he not only had nothing to do with, but also, in most instances, pointed to Obama-era news.
A fact-check piece from the Washington Post added, “Trump’s bravado on these jobs announcements is becoming a bad joke.”
Worse, they’re also self-defeating. No president can credibly take credit for every employment development that occurs during his or her presidency – nor should any president want to.
Earlier this month, for example, JCPenny announced its shedding thousands of American workers, a move, as best as I can tell, the White House has not commented on. It hardly seems fair to hold Trump directly responsible for this, but therein lies the point: the president shouldn’t want to connect his administration to every significant private-sector decision related to jobs.
Trump may not realize the extent to which he’s inviting trouble, not only because he’s taking credit for Obama-era successes, but also because he’s inviting blame for every bit of bad news that happens on his watch.