US POLITICS

Donald Trump Said He Saved A Ford Plant That Was Never Leaving

The future president claimed to have saved Kentucky from losing a Ford plant that was never in danger of closing

US POLITICS
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Nov 18, 2016 at 10:15 AM ET

A man dedicated a portion of his Thursday night to tweeting falsehoods. Normally, this would not be newsworthy, except that said man is also the president-elect of the United States.

Donald Trump took to Twitter to claim that Ford would not be moving a plant from Kentucky to Mexico, and said that the car company’s chairman, Bill Ford Jr., called him personally to tell him so.

According to Trump, he is already saving Kentucky jobs by convincing car manufacturers to stay there, and he is doing it at least partially because Kentucky voted for him in the presidential election. It is concerning, if not surprising, that the future president is apparently playing favorites with states based on which ones like him best. But it is perhaps more concerning that the future president is demonstrating the same propensity towards exaggeration at best and outright lies at worst on social media that he displayed before he won the presidential election.

According to basically every reputable news source and as well as the Ford company itself, there were never any plans for either of the two Ford plants in Kentucky to leave the state for Mexico or anywhere else.

Reuters reports that “Ford has repeatedly said it has no plans to close any U.S. plants and likely could not do so under the terms of the current United Auto Workers contract that expires in 2019,” while the Wall Street Journal said that while Ford had “initially planned” to move production of a Lincoln SUV that Reuters describes as “low-selling” out of the state (though where that production would move to — Mexico or otherwise — was never stated), that was so the plant that produced it could devote more resources to the Ford Escape. In summary: The plant itself was never in danger of closing, and it doesn’t appear that it would have lost any jobs by stopping its production of that Lincoln SUV, as they would have been re-allocated to the Ford Escape.

The Louisville Courier-Journal published Ford’s statement on the matter where it diplomatically and carefully said that it “continue[d] to engage with President-elect Trump’s team” and “shared our commitment to continue to investing in the US and creating American jobs.” It said that on Thursday, Ford “confirmed with the President-elect that our small Lincoln utility vehicle made at the Louisville Assembly Plant will stay in Kentucky.” So, yes, at least part of Trump’s tweets are true. The company also made sure to note that it has invested $12 billion in American plants and created almost 28,000 jobs in the last five years (thanks Obama).

If anything, Ford’s original plans to move the Lincoln SUV’s production would have been better for that plant’s employees: According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the plant sometimes shuts down for a few weeks when demand for the cars it produces is low, so that the supply can match that demand. When this happens, employees get just 80 percent of their usual pay. This happened just a few weeks ago because, the Courier-Journal said, the Lincoln SUV wasn’t selling as well as the “fast-selling” Escape. Ridding the plant of the Lincoln model’s production may well have saved employees from a few more weeks shutdowns and 80 percent wages. Oops!

Trump’s “friend” Bill Ford said in October that Trump’s criticism of Ford’s factories in Mexico — which Trump repeatedly used as an example that America was losing manufacturing jobs to other countries as he campaigned on promises that he and he alone would bring those jobs back — was “infuriating” and “frustrating.”

Last Tuesday, Ford said it was moving forward with its plans to produce all of its small cars in Mexico by 2018. This would not result in the closure of any plants nor the loss of any American jobs, Ford said. Those plans appear to be unaffected by Trump’s phone calls with the company’s chairman.

Since his win, Trump has used his Twitter feed to yell at the New York Times and claim that “wow, @nytimes is losing thousands of subscribers” when, in fact, it has actually gained tens of thousands of them since the election. He has also tweeted two very different takes on the protests across the country over his win just nine hours apart from each other. And he has praised the electoral college system that won him the election (Hillary Clinton is almost certain to win the popular vote by at least a million when the final count comes in), which was a much different opinion than in 2012, when he thought Mitt Romney won the popular vote and lost the electoral college (Romney actually lost both) and went on a tweet rant-storm about how the “phony electoral college made a laughingstock out of our nation” and called for a “revolution” against the “great and disgusting injustice” that a presidential candidate could win the popular vote but not actually be elected president. Trump has since deleted many of those tweets, for some reason.