There was much to do about President Donald Trump's "deal" to save American jobs at the Carrier manufacturing plant in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Even when it was first announced, to any with a more nuanced eye, the results looked rickety, but now it looks like it could be a colossal flop.
According to CNBC, more than 600 employees are preparing to be laid off next month despite assurances from the president that their jobs had been saved.
Trump had promised that 1,100 jobs would be saved out of the 1,400 Carrier originally planned to lose after closing the plant and shifting its workforce to Mexico.
"And by the way, that number is going to go up very substantially as they expand this area," he said to a cheering crowd in December 2016. "So the 1,100 is going to be a minimum number."
The devil is always in the details though.
Carrier, as part of the deal, must employ at least 1,069 people at the Indiana plant for 10 years in exchange for $7 million worth of tax breaks. However, only 730 of those jobs are actual factory jobs, which was the entire point of the deal. The company is giving the rest of those jobs to engineering and technical professionals that were never intended to be axed anyway.
In addition, United Technologies Corps, the parent company of Carrier, promised to invest $16 million in the plant, but there were no specificities as to how that money must be invested. So, Carrier plans to channel that investment toward automation efforts, spelling doom for more jobs in the future. The employees who get to stay at Carrier for the time being will slowly watch as they are made obsolete.
"To me this was just political, to make it a victory within Trump's campaign, in his eyes that he did something great," said T. J. Bray, a Carrier employee who is fortunate to keep his job due to his having worked for the company for 15 years. "I'm very grateful that I get to keep my job, and many others, but I'm still disappointed that we're losing a lot."
Trump campaigned on promises of being tough on big companies that wanted to ship jobs overseas, but paying a company to stick around for 10 years doesn't seem effective or like a solution that the government would want to become reliant on. What if companies start demanding incentives?
"If companies know they can do it and get money that's laying around on tables, money that's there for the taking, that hurts the tax base," explained Greg LeRoy, executive director of watchdog group Good Jobs First.
LeRoy said he estimates that states and local governments are shelling out $70 billion annually to keep companies around when that money would be better utilized on education, infrastructure, "and all the things that really do grow the economy over the long run, because they benefit all employers, not just those few that can game the system."
The Carrier deal (if you can call it that) seems more like a publicity stunt to give Trump a boost after a tempestuous election than an actual attempt to do right by working Americans. If the president was genuinely trying to save jobs, he failed miserably and played into the hands of a big company, proving once again what an abysmal dealmaker he is.
Many people voted for Trump because he claimed that he could bring back jobs and that he would not tolerate manipulation by companies only out for the bottom dollar. Yet his first attempt did nothing but lose a lot of Americans jobs and give the White House a story to spin.