The Problem with Trump's Claim That He's Already Saved American Jobs

November 18th 2016

Mike Rothschild

One of the hallmarks of Donald Trump's campaign for president was bringing American jobs back from foreign countries, and stopping companies from moving out.

Despite the dubious legality of the federal government either forcing a company to move back to the U.S. or stopping them from moving out - Trump has insisted he will bring jobs back, and save jobs that are already here.

On Thursday night, it looked like he'd already made good on some of that promise, claiming that his hard work had made the CEO of Ford change his mind about moving a manufacturing plant from Kentucky to Mexico. Trump had already targeted Ford for its plans to move jobs to Mexico, and announced he'd slap a 35 percent tariff on any car made in Mexico and sold in the U.S. His tweets from Thursday evening looked like confirmation that the message had gotten through.

This would indeed be good news for American manufacturing - except, it's not true.

Ford never announced plans to move any or all of its plants in Louisville, Kentucky, which produce the Lincoln Navigator, Lincoln MKC and the Ford Escape. No plans were in place to move any plants to Mexico, or to close them. In fact, the major automaker had recently entered into a binding agreement with the United Auto Workers to invest over a billion dollars in its Louisville plants, creating thousands of new jobs in the process.

According to multiple reports about Ford's plans, president-elect Trump took credit for stopping something that was never going to start. 

In reality, Ford did announce that it would shift production of the Lincoln MKC to another plant. The location wasn't given, but most industry watchers believed it would go to Mexico. However, the Louisville plant, which previously produced the MKC, would shift over to producing more Ford Escapes, a more popular model that sells ten times as many units as the luxury MKC. Contrary to what Trump implied in his tweet, the Louisville plant was not in danger of closing. 

What Ford did announce on Thursday is that it had changed its plans and would keep the MKC in Kentucky. Again, this did not mean that jobs had been saved, since these jobs were never at risk. What's more, Trump already likely knew this, as he'd met with Bill Ford in October to discuss the company's plans - and Trump's outsized criticism of the company.

At the time, Ford said: "We should be celebrated I think in some ways as the great American car company. We make more cars and trucks here than anyone else."

None of these facts stopped conservative pundits from running with the Trump narrative, which was that he'd single-handedly fulfilled his promises before even being the official acting president.

President-elect Trump might indeed save American jobs. But this time, he didn't.