The Democratic President and the Republican President-elect each made early visits to Indiana to shine a spotlight on their job efforts.
And both found that over eight years, one thing hasn’t changed: Partisanship.
When President Barack Obama did it, the GOP was furious. And now that President-elect Donald Trump is doing it, Democrats are lashing out.
Obama’s first trip in the White House was to job-starved northern Indiana – where his first major legislative victory, the $800 billion stimulus package, would allow the quick injection of federal dollars to help rescue Elkhart’s lagging RV industry.
Trump’s first trip into the country since Election Day was to Indiana, as well. He championed a deal struck with an air conditioning manufacturer to hand over $7 million in state government subsidies to keep the company from moving hundreds of jobs to Mexico.
Obama’s visit was three months later than Trump’s. The scope of the stimulus was much larger. And Obama has created millions of jobs in office, while Trump hasn’t yet begun the task of advancing a national economic policy through Congress.
How Donald Trump got Carrier to stay
But both were touting how the use of taxpayer dollars allowed them to keep jobs in the United States that otherwise would have been lost.
Suddenly – and in a 180-degree reversal from 2009 – Republicans were comfortable Thursday with the notion of government choosing winners and losers, while Democrats were worried about the broader implications.
“Well, I’m pretty happy that we’re keeping jobs in America – aren’t you?” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, told reporters in Washington.
He brushed aside questions about the specifics of the deal, saying he thinks “it’s pretty darn good that people are keeping their jobs in Indiana instead of going to Mexico.”
Ryan and other Republicans, though, spent years bashing Obama over the stimulus – which Ryan called “political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism at their worst” at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
The GOP targeted the Obama administration’s stimulus-backed $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, a green energy company that ultimately failed and declared bankruptcy.
Republicans have also bashed the Obama administration’s 2013 effort to rescue the bankrupt city of Detroit.
Conservative Trump critic Erick Erickson compared Carrier to Solyndra on Twitter, writing: “Anyone know how this is different from Solyndra? The GOP opposed Solyndra. Corporate welfare isn’t conservative.”
Democrats, meanwhile, championed Obama’s stimulus package – as well as the bank bailout’s inclusion of money to rescue the automotive industry – early in his presidency.
But party officials quickly denounced Trump for his deal with Carrier.
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On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee blasted Trump, saying in a statement: “Every American job is important, but it’s clear that Donald Trump not only got rolled by Carrier, he set a dangerous precedent that companies can easily shake down taxpayers with the mere threat of outsourcing jobs.”
The deal Democrats were criticizing with Indiana is worth $700,000 per year for 10 years. It includes $500,000 annually in corporate income tax breaks and $200,000 per year in training grants.
That deal’s size is similar to other major offers Indiana economic officials have extended to businesses – and is similar to the tax abatements and credits states and municipalities run by Democrats and Republicans offer nationally.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also blasted the deal. “Trump’s Band-Aid solution is only making the problem of wealth inequality in America even worse,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
“He wants to treat corporate irresponsibility with kid gloves,” Sanders wrote of Trump. “The problem with our rigged economy is not that our policies have been too tough on corporations; it’s that we haven’t been tough enough.”
But even as Democrats criticized Trump, some members of the party said the GOP President-elect deserves credit.
Former Obama strategist David Axelrod tweeted: “Without knowing details of what was promised, any fair reading is that the Carrier intervention is a good early win” for Trump.