Donald Trump’s vow to stop Carrier from closing a factory in Indiana wasn’t the most ambitious promise he made during the presidential campaign, and it wasn’t the most prominent. But it was one of the most persistent. The tale of the company deciding to shut down the plant and move the jobs to Mexico became a standard element of Trump’s stump speech. It wasn’t just the Carrier plant, of course: His vow either to convince the company to stay in the United States or else slap it with a huge tariff was symbolic of the protectionist view he expounded for trade. It was also a key test for his claim that the negotiation skills he said he’d honed in years of business could produce results.
That makes the deal that Trump has apparently struck to keep the jobs in Indiana a major political win—the president-elect fulfilling a major promise well before he takes the oath of office. He is a successful bully even before he takes his pulpit. It’s a sign that the theatrical, blustery persona that Trump struck on the stump can be translatable, in at least some cases to the presidency.
As my colleague Alana Semuels writes, there’s still a great deal to question about the deal and its implications. For one, Trump had unusual bargaining power in this case, because Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, depends heavily on federal-government contracts. For another, Trump seems to have gotten the deal by promising tax credits to Carrier. That creates a potential moral hazard, since while some executives may decide not to outsource to avoid a public battle with the president of the United States, others may reason that by threatening to move jobs out of the country, they may also be able to extract profitable benefits. Meanwhile, Fortune reports that Carrier is still moving 1,300 jobs to Mexico, versus 1,150 that will be preserved in Indiana.