How Trump Learned to Do Business

Bad Hair

One of the most interesting commentaries on Trump’s so-called deal to save jobs at Carrier Corps. in Indiana was in CNBC, of all places.

Trump’s deal with United Technologies includes $7 million in financial incentives provided by Indiana to keep 1,100 jobs at Carrier, the company’s heating and air conditioning unit, in the state. However, Carrier still plans to move roughly 1,300 other jobs to Mexico and close another facility in Indiana.

Such a deal. With deal-making skillz like that, no wonder Trump went bankrupt, what, four times? I lost track.

Trump boasted about his deal to keep about 1,100 Carrier jobs in Indiana, and also took aim at other companies who may be thinking about moving jobs out of the country.

“Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences. Not going to happen. It’s not going to happen, I’ll tell you right now,” Trump said on Thursday.

To which an American Enterprise Institute fellow said,

“The idea that American corporations are going to have to make business decisions, not based on the fact that we’ve created an ideal environment for economic growth in the United States, but out of fear of punitive actions based on who knows what criteria exactly from a presidential administration. I think that’s absolutely chilling.”

And, y’know, that’s a point. Not that a lot of companies wouldn’t mind facing the same consequences Carrier had to endure, but it’s not the sort of talk corporate leaders are used to hearing from Republican presidents.

I mean, who talks like that? Wait … it’ll come to me …

I don’t know anything about the Mob beside what I’ve seen in movies, but it’s known that Trump cut his teeth as a businessman by working with the New York/New Jersey Mob. Even PolitiFact grudgingly admits this, although it wants you to know Trump may not have liked it.

Politico published an article last May that may need more reading

From the public record and published accounts like that one, it’s possible to assemble a clear picture of what we do know. The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service.

Now that he’s running for president, I pulled together what’s known – piecing together the long history of federal filings, court records, biographical anecdotes, and research from my and Barrett’s files. What emerges is a pattern of business dealings with mob figuresnot only local figures, but even the son of a reputed Russian mob boss whom Trump had at his side at a gala Trump hotel opening, but has since claimed under oath he barely knows.

See also “The Many Times Donald Trump Has Lied About His Mob Connections” by David Corn at Mother Jones and “The Donald Trump Story You’re Not Hearing About” by Todd Gitlin at Moyers & Company.

Most of the information in the Politico article goes back to the 1980s. Does The Donald still work with the Mob? I don’t know. But he learned to cut business deals by dealing with the Mob. And since he’s never worked for anyone else, no one’s ever told him that leaving bloody horse heads in people’s beds is not a standard negotiating technique.

Ooo, just wait until he gets to negotiate some nuclear treaty.

At the Washington Post, Fred Hiatt sees another model — our buddy Vlad Putin.

It’s good that about 1,000 Carrier Corp. workers will not be losing their jobs. But there is a whiff of Putinism in the combination of bribery and menace that may have affected Carrier’s decision — the bribery of tax breaks, the menace of potential lost defense contracts for Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies.

If this were to become the U.S. government’s standard method of operation, the results would be Russian, too: dwindling investment, slowing economic growth, fewer jobs.

On the same day that Donald Trump took a victory lap through the Carrier plant in Indiana, The Post published a coincidentally relevant article about Russia’s “fixer-in-chief,” Vladimir Putin.

The article, by Post correspondent David Filipov, describes how government-controlled television continually features Russia’s president interrogating or berating factory directors and petty officials. …

…The problem is that it doesn’t work. Russia’s economy is shrinking, year by year, and no matter how many factory directors Putin humiliates, it won’t start growing again without structural and political reform.

It also reminds me of Chris Christie’s method for improving New Jersey’s schools, which was to get himself videoed yelling at teachers.

See also “Trump’s Tough Trade Talk Could Damage American Factories.”

Speaking of salesmanship, Trump also has been cold-calling foreign heads of state to sell them on his new project, to be known formally as The Trump Administration.

Mr. Trump’s conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan has generated the most angst, because, as Mr. Earnest put it, the relationship between Mr. Sharif’s country and the United States is “quite complicated,” with disputes over issues ranging from counterterrorism to nuclear proliferation.

In a remarkably candid readout of the phone call, the Pakistani government said Mr. Trump had told Mr. Sharif that he was “a terrific guy” who made him feel as though “I’m talking to a person I have known for long.” He described Pakistanis as “one of the most intelligent people.” When Mr. Sharif invited him to visit Pakistan, the president-elect replied that he would “love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people.” …

…The breezy tone of the readout left diplomats in Washington slack-jawed, with some initially assuming it was a parody.

The next four years will be such fun.

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  1. Tom_b  •  Dec 2, 2016 @7:48 pm

    Tony Soprano was smarter and had more class. Bada bing!

  2. Doug  •  Dec 2, 2016 @10:42 pm

    The Carrier deal, as Sanders pointed out, sets the stage for corporate extortion. Trump gave a lollipop to a child throwing a tantrum – and all the other corporate kids noticed However, this event may not get a footnote in Trump history, considering what he did today.

    This afternoon Trump made (or accepted) a call from the president of Taiwan. This is a problem. The US presidents from 1980 on have NOT made direct contact with Taiwan out of deterrence to communist China. Personally, I like Taiwan better than China, but Trump kicked sand in the face of a bully. We, the US citizens, are the ones that may get beaten in the fight he’s picked with an ICBM power.

    The immediate repercussion won’t be nuclear. I want to read what Krugman says, but if China dumps US T-bills (They own just over a trillion.) just before the US raises the debt cap and needs to borrow, there will be no buyers unless the US offers a higher interest rate. Globally, it may (I defer to Krugman) weaken the dollar. Such a move may not be good for China’s economy but Trump is throwing down on China. As a world power if they swallow the insult, then the perception of China as an expanding power in the Pacific is diminished. I think they will retaliate either economically against the US or militarily against Taiwan.

    I’m not a fan of China but the US needs to become independent of China before we pick a fight with China. We’ve taken the first leek in a pissn’ contest that we may wind up on the smelly end of. In retrospect, it may be the direct cause a recession. Or worse. The global economy is a fragile thing and abrupt realignment will cause chaos.

    Maybe China will not retaliate beyond a statement from a junior bureaucrat. I suspect there’s a lot of phone lines from Wall Street to Beijing burning up in heated discussion. The only way repercussions will be avoided, in my assessment of Chinese psychology, will be if Trump apologizes and pleads diplomatic ignorance.

    Sometimes I really wish for interplanetary travel.

  3. RadioClash  •  Dec 3, 2016 @12:31 am

    Will the Trumpanzees ever come to realize who they voted for, or are they too far gone?

  4. aj  •  Dec 3, 2016 @12:45 am

    And now we hear about the conversation with the president of Taiwan and China is not amused.
    He didn’t tell anyone at State that he was going to do any of this.
    Makes you glad you’re not an ambassador sitting in an embassy somewhere and wondering why the locals suddenly hate you and are trying to burn you down, Trump has spoken something somewhere to someone……
    makes Benghazi look like child’s play

  5. paradoctor  •  Dec 3, 2016 @2:06 am

    Their solution will be to send Pence, saying, “No, no, he didn’t make that phone call.”

  6. RadioClash  •  Dec 3, 2016 @2:23 am

    Come on now, a string of luxury Trump hotels in Taiwan is much more important than Chinese-US relations!

  7. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 3, 2016 @8:23 am

    After Nixon, Reagan, and “Baby Doc” Bush, my liver won’t hold up for another 4 years!
    Definitely NOT 8!

    t-RUMP DID WHAT?!?!
    t-RUMP called Taiwan?!?!?!
    He called Pakistan?!?!?!?!
    Can’t anyone hit the “Parental Control” option on this dim-fucking-wits phone?!?!?!?!?!?!

    What’s next?
    Is he going to talk to the Muslim Mullahs in oil producing countries about spreading some of their moola?

    Congratulations, America!
    You just elected the dimmest bully in the history of Queens, NYC!

    I grew-up in Queens, NYC, so I have some experience with these assholes. But, the bullying assholes I knew in Queens, were like me: Lower middle-class kids, or even less well off.
    I never met a rich bully – largely, because we were too poor.

    t-RUMP, like all bullies, is trying to ingratiate himself with those he perceives as the “cooler” kids.
    But at heart, t-RUMP is a kiss-up/punch-down bully.

    This will not end well.
    I intend to keep at least a liter of 100 proof vodka with me at all times, so that I’m prepared for the coming nuclear attack.

  8. Doug  •  Dec 3, 2016 @9:28 am
  9. csm  •  Dec 3, 2016 @11:11 am

    Every day you think, what’s next? And “next” always comes.

    We can only attempt to divine the intentions of Trump in this interim period. It will be a while into his Presidency before his actions and patterns make things more clear.

    To keep the focus off Trump’s main goal of leveraging the presidency for his personal enrichment, he keeps a steady stream of outrageous acts coming; before you can wrap your mind around one, here comes another. Strip citizenship for flag burning; Sarah Palin as VA Director; Carrier!; calling Taiwan…endless stream of idiocy that serves a purpose.

    The association with the white supremacist/alt-right movement serves a purpose as well: steady source of outrage and, probably more important, keeps the rubes hopped up on something while he robs them blind. All of it serves to not only maintain but deepen an already incredible level of stupid:

    Trump Voters Tell CNN California Allows Illegal Voting:

    Some have wondered, what will the Trumpanzee rubes do a year from now when they realize nothing he promised them has come to pass. They will cheer him on as the greatest leader that ever lived.

  10. csm  •  Dec 3, 2016 @11:17 am

    One other thing: Trump will rule by Twitter. At the rate we’re going, his interpretation of the Presidency will be reduced to late night tweets, helpfully mainlined directly into MSM news chyrons, and dutifully reported as “fact.”

  11. grannyeagle  •  Dec 3, 2016 @11:43 am

    Darn, Trump has spoiled all my scary movies. He is much scarier. Maybe the only thing scarier is the people who voted for him. How long can he last? He’s not even President yet and he is making all these faux pas. Guess I will have to switch to cartoons. Pretend I’m a child, not an adult who is supposed to pay attention to what goes on in the world. There is an old adage about not awakening a sleeping tiger. Well, in some sense, that is exactly what Trump has done with China.

  12. aj  •  Dec 3, 2016 @12:02 pm

    yesterday we heard there is no such thing as FACT.If ICBM is arcing toward your ass about to vaporize you, it will be factual.
    The transition has no idea, Trump has no idea

    I watched Anderson Cooper make a fool of KelleyAnne while at the gym yesterday eve. She was good enough to run out to cameras and talk 90 mph trying to excusify and change the subject during the campaign, but now the they are showing they are in over their pretty little heads.

  13. Kevin Hayden  •  Dec 3, 2016 @2:45 pm

    Many worry Trump could be Hitler but his practices in his professional life seem closer to mob boss: profit is first, punish foes and reward the loyal.

    I’m envisioning a cross between Boss Tweed and Berlusconi.

    He has heavy debts in China; therefore the Taiwan call: he’s trying to get China to renegotiate his debts with Chinese principals.

  14. paradoctor  •  Dec 3, 2016 @4:25 pm

    Here’s my theory about Trump and China: the deal will be, they write off our debt to them, and in return they seize Taiwan. It’s like purchase, only no money changes hands.

    The trouble with my theory is Trump’s phone call to the Taiwan president. A blunder? A ruse? Stirring things up? Scoping out his victim? Or maybe I’m wrong, because he has plenty of his own businesses in Taiwan.

    It’s hard to predict Trump; he surrounds himself with chaos.

  15. paradoctor  •  Dec 3, 2016 @4:59 pm

    In Trumpian terms, selling out an ally in exchange for debt relief is just business, and a sweet deal for the nation. On the other hand, he has businesses on Taiwan, which might be harmed in such a deal. So in Trumpian terms, he has a conflict of interest!

    Resolution: either he stays with the established order, ostensibly from elite scolding but really from some Taiwanese bribes; or he sells out the ally but first quietly tells his kids to sell some properties pronto.

  16. aj  •  Dec 3, 2016 @5:50 pm

    And while he is taking care of his personal debt problems, the Chinese decide to dump trillion of US Treasuries and flip our economy into tailspin.

  17. Lynne  •  Dec 3, 2016 @6:16 pm

    This seems to be a good place to ask why Trump is getting away with any of this. He is still a private citizen, is he not?
    Perhaps he’s breaking no rules, as no one before this thought of taking the reins out of the hands of the sitting government?

  18. grannyeagle  •  Dec 3, 2016 @7:35 pm

    Lynne: As far as Carrier is concerned, that was all Pence’s doing as he is still the governor of Indiana and was able to rip off the taxpayers and give Trump all the credit. With Taiwan, as far as I know, taking a telephone call is not illegal although if I was Obama, I would be pretty pissed. Guess Trump is not listening to all that good counseling he said he wanted from Obama.

  19. Tom_b  •  Dec 3, 2016 @7:58 pm

    I’m fine with Trump talking to Taiwan, or for that matter, the already under-occupation regions known as Tibet and Hong Kong. I’ve been arguing against normalizing China since the Nixon administration and I think history will show I was right.

    But, in this case, I think it is simply Trumpian cluelessness; not a thought-out policy position.

    And, yes, China could dump US debt. That’s one consequence of trading with rogue states.

  20. Tom_b  •  Dec 4, 2016 @12:07 pm
  21. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 4, 2016 @12:51 pm

    Thanks, I need some Raskin this miserable morning!

  22. Lynne  •  Dec 5, 2016 @12:10 pm