Trump Tells New York Times: Manufacturing Will Be A Top Priority
By Richard McCormack
President-elect Donald Trump met with the New York Times editorial staff on November 23, 2016. The big news from the event was that he was not going to prosecute Hillary Clinton as a criminal, but -- as was the case during the entire election campaign -- the New York Times didn't write much about what Trump said about manufacturing.
On numerous occasions during the hour-long discussion, Trump pulled the conversation back to his goal of reviving American manufacturing. When pressed repeatedly about his views on global warming, he noted that there was "some connectivity" to humans burning fossil fuels, but that doing something about it "depends on how much it's going to cost our companies. You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now," he said. Then he added: "About four weeks ago, I started adding a certain little sentence into a lot of my speeches, that we've lost 70,000 factories since W. Bush. 70,000. When I first looked at the number, I said: 'That must be a typo. It can't be 70, you can't have 70,000. You wouldn't think you have 70,000 factories here.' And it wasn't a typo. It's right. We've lost 70,000 factories."
Nobody on the New York Times editorial staff questioned Trump about that "fact," nor did the Times ever report Trump's assertion when on the campaign trail, but it helped him win the election.
Trump then argued that the United States is no longer a competitive nation, and that "we have to make ourselves competitive. We're not competitive for a lot of reasons." One reason for the lack of competitiveness is environmental regulations, "because a lot of the countries that we do business with, they make deals with our president, or whoever, and then they don't adhere to the deals," said Trump. "You know that. It's much less expensive for their companies to produce products. I'm going to be studying that very hard, and I think I have a very big voice in it, and I think my voice is listened to, especially by people that don't believe in it. And we'll let you know."
When asked about the potential for wind energy, Trump was dismissive, noting that "the wind is a very deceiving thing. First of all, we don't make the windmills in the United States. They're made in Germany and Japan. They're made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere, whether it's in our country or not, it goes into the atmosphere. The windmills kill birds and the windmills need massive subsidies. In other words, we're subsidizing windmills all over this country. I mean, for the most part they don't work. I don't think they work at all without subsidy, and that bothers me, and they kill all the birds. You go to a windmill, you know in California they have the, what is it? The golden eagle? And they're like, if you shoot a golden eagle, they go to jail for five years and yet they kill them by, they actually have to get permits that they're only allowed to kill 30 or something in one year. The windmills are devastating to the bird population. Okay, with that being said, there's a place for them. But they do need subsidy. So, if I talk negatively. I've been saying the same thing for years about, you know, the wind industry. I wouldn't want to subsidize it. Some environmentalists agree with me very much because of all of the things I just said, including the birds, and some don't. But it's hard to explain. I don't care about anything having to do with anything having to do with anything other than the country."
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman felt compelled to interject: "Just so you know, General Electric has a big wind turbine factory in South Carolina. Just so you know."
Trump responded: "Well that's good. But most of 'em are made in Germany, most of 'em are made, you know, Siemens and the Chinese are making most of them."
The NYT editorial staff then asked Trump if he worried about how well he will serve the needs of the workers in the Rust Belt who elected him, as opposed to following the lead of establishment Republicans in Washington like House Majority Leader Rep. Paul Ryan. Trump responded: "No, I don't worry about that, 'cause I didn't need to do this [run for president]. I'm doing this to do a good job. That's what I want to do. I think that what happened in the Rust Belt, they call it the Rust Belt for a reason. If you go through it, you look back 20 years, they didn't used to call it the Rust Belt. You pass factory after factory after factory that's empty and rusting. Rust is the good part, 'cause they're worse than rusting, they're falling down. No, I wouldn't sacrifice that. To me, more important is taking care of the people that really have proven to be, to love Donald Trump, as opposed to the political people. And frankly if the political people don't take care of these people, they're not going to win and you're going to end up with maybe a total different kind of government than what you're looking at right now. These people are really angry. They're smart, they're workers, and they're angry. I call them the forgotten men and women. And I use that in speeches, I say they're the forgotten people -- they were totally forgotten. And we're going to bring jobs back. We're going to bring jobs back, big league. I've spoken to so many companies already, I say, don't plan on moving your company, 'cause you're not going to be able to move your company and sell us your product. You think you're going to just sell it across what will be a strong border -- you know at least we're going to have a border. But just don't plan on it. You'll hear announcements over the next couple of months, but I believe I've talked [to] numerous companies -- in four-minute conversations with top people -- numerous companies that have, leaving, or potentially leaving our country with thousands of jobs."
Tom Friedman then asked: "Are you worried, though, that those companies will keep their factories here, but the jobs will be replaced by robots?"
Trump responded: "They will, and we'll make the robots too. It's a big thing. We'll make the robots too. Right now, we don't make the robots. We don't make anything. But we're going to, I mean, look, robotics is becoming very big and we're going to do that. We're going to have more factories. We can't lose 70,000 factories. Just can't do it. We're going to start making things.
"I was honored yesterday, I got a call from Bill Gates, great call, we had a great conversation. I got a call from Tim Cook at Apple, and I said, 'Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam and going to the places that you go to, you're making your product right here.' He said, 'I understand that.' I said: 'I think we'll create the incentives for you, and I think you're going to do it. We're going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you'll be happy about.' But we're going for big tax cuts, we have to get rid of regulations, regulations are making it impossible. Whether you're liberal or conservative, I mean I could sit down and show you regulations that anybody would agree are ridiculous. It's gotten to be a free-for-all. And companies can't even start up, they can't expand, they're choking.
"I tell you, one thing I would say [is] I'm giving a big tax cut and I'm giving big regulation cuts, and I've seen all of the small business owners over the United States, and all of the big business owners, I've met so many people. They are more excited about the regulation cut than about the tax cut. And I would've never said that's possible, because the tax cut's going to be substantial. You know we have companies leaving our country because the taxes are too high. But they're leaving also because of the regulations. And I would say, of the two, and I would not have thought this, regulation cuts, substantial regulation cuts, are more important than, and more enthusiastically supported, than even the big tax cuts."
Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times took the conversation to Trump's plans for a trillion-dollar program to improve the nation's infrastructure. He asked whether Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Paul Ryan were reluctant to endorse such a program, to which Trump responded: "Let's see if I get it done. Right now, they're in love with me, okay? Four weeks ago they weren't in love with me. . . "
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