Wall Street Journal editorial board: Trump's 'shakedown' with Carrier sets dangerous precedent

GettyImages 627024884Tasos Katopodis/Getty ImagesPresident-elect Donald Trump speaks to workers at Carrier air conditioning and heating.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board skewered President-elect Donald Trump’s deal with Carrier on Friday, characterising the political achievement as a “shakedown” that Republicans would never tolerate under a Democratic president.

Carrier, a heating and air conditioning manufacturer, announced on Thursday that it would keep approximately 1,100 jobs in the US after speaking with the incoming administration and receiving a $7 million incentive package from Indiana. Previously it had planned to move 2,000 jobs out of the country — some of those will still be outsourced.

While the deal was almost universally praised across political aisles, the Journal’s conservative editorial board expressed concern. It noted that Trump treated Carrier as a “piñata for trade politics during the campaign” and argued the president-elect’s interference into the private economy set a bad precedent.

“Mr. Trump has now muscled his way into at least two corporate decisions about where and how to do business,” the Journal’s editorial board wrote. “But who would you rather have making a decision about where to make furnaces or cars? A company whose profitability depends on making good decisions, or a branding executive turned politician who wants to claim political credit?”

The Journal argued that “America won’t become more prosperous by forcing companies to make noneconomic investments,” before comparing Trump to former President Richard Nixon:

“Like the Nixon Administration, Donald Trump’s unpredictable, non-ideological policy-making will sometimes be disorienting for those who claim to believe in free markets. Some conservatives will be tempted to tolerate bad policies that appear to be popular that they’d never accept from President Obama. Many Republicans stayed silent or supported Nixon as he imposed wage-and-price controls and created the EPA, only to regret it later. They shouldn’t make the same mistake with Mr. Trump.

“The better strategy is to support him when his policies promote growth and try to block him when he veers into big-government cul-de-sacs. In that spirit, his Carrier shakedown is a short-term political victory that will hurt workers and the economy if it becomes the norm for the next four years.”

Trump has had a terse relationship with the Journal since launching his campaign last summer. In August, the newspaper’s editorial board warned that Trump needed to “behave like a president” or “turn the nomination” over to his running mate Mike Pence.

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