Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about creating jobs, this time for Apple.

Trump traveled to Texas today, where he met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and toured a factory that assembles Mac desktop computers. On the tour, and later in a tweet, Trump repeatedly claimed that he—personally—had "opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America."

This is a lie. The factory that assembles the computers has been open since 2013. What is new in Austin is an office park, scheduled to open in 2022, where Apple is relocating some of its existing American managerial staff.

Trump also claimed that Apple would avoid tariffs because of the (existing) Texas plant. This is also false, although it's never clear how much Trump knows about how his own tariffs work. The Texas facility assembles parts made in China, and those parts are taxed as they enter the United States for assembly—meaning that American consumers pay those taxes in the form of higher retail costs.

But Trump, who desperately needs economic good news, said he was considering exempting Apple from those tariffs. He did not explain why other American companies wouldn't get a similar benefit, but Cook, the Apple CEO, has carefully built a relationship with Trump.

Ironically, the tariffs Trump imposed on Chinese high-tech goods don't apply to finished products. This means that if Apple were being influenced in terms of where to have their products made by Trump's actual tariffs, there would be an incentive to move assembly out of the United States.

Why does this matter?

  • It's wrong to take credit for things you didn't do.
  • It shouldn't be this easy to manipulate the President of the United States.