On Thursday evening, the president-elect tweeted that he “worked hard” with the chairman of the Ford Motor Company, who had called to inform him that the company would keep its plant in Kentucky.
One of Trump’s key campaign promises was to keep companies from outsourcing U.S. jobs overseas, and Trump took credit on Twitter for keeping the Lincoln plant from leaving Louisville, Ky. (As a businessman, Trump had a long history of outsourcing Trump brand products and has acknowledged doing so.)
Tweets have been widely shared on social media, and he’s clearly trying to claim credit for already having an impact on the U.S. economy, even before he officially takes the oath of office.
Is Trump’s claim correct?
As our colleague Jim Tankersley wrote, Ford never announced plans to move either of its plants in Kentucky to Mexico. The Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville produces the Lincoln Navigator, and the Louisville Assembly Plant produces the Lincoln MKC and the Ford Escape.
Ford had planned to move production of the Lincoln MKC, per the contract Ford negotiated with the United Auto Workers in 2015. Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said Ford’s Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly Plant was the likely plant for the move. Ford Fiesta models are currently produced at the Cuautitlan plant, which employs just over 2,000 people.
Ford had no plans to shutter the Louisville Assembly Plant, or to move production of the Ford Escape out of the plant. Ford committed to investing $700 million in the plant over four years, per its 2015 contract with the UAW, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Ford announced last year that it would move Lincoln MKC production to another factory to increase its Ford Escape production at the plant, the Detroit Free Press reported. (During a presidential debate, Trump complained about Ford moving its small car production to Mexico. Those plans have not changed, and Ford has said the expansion will not affect U.S. workers.)
The company had been reviewing where to make its Lincoln MKC model, and decided to keep production in Kentucky, Baker said. During their phone call on Thursday, Ford Chairman Bill Ford “shared our recent decision to keep Lincoln MKC in Kentucky,” she said.
Trump claimed he “worked hard with Bill Ford,” and Baker said Trump played a role in the company’s decision to keep its Lincoln MKC model production at its plant in Kentucky. But Baker would not clarify what exactly Trump’s role was.
“We are encouraged the economic policies he will pursue will help improve U.S. competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the U.S.,” Baker said.
Baker said that “jobs at the plant will remain steady.” In other words, the decision makes no difference in terms of Ford jobs in the United States or Mexico.
Trump’s staff did not respond to our request for clarification about his tweets or his role in Ford’s decision.
The Pinocchio Test
Trump claimed that he had received a call from Ford Chairman Bill Ford, who had advised him that he “will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky – no Mexico.” He said he “worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky,” suggesting he was saving American jobs.
But Ford had never planned to move the Louisville Assembly Plant out of Kentucky to Mexico. In fact, the automaker committed to investing $700 million in the plant over four years. Instead, Ford had planned to move the production of a single model — the Lincoln MKC — to Mexico, so that it can increase production of another model at the plant. Ford decided not to move its Lincoln MKC production, and Trump apparently played some role in the company’s decision. But the impact on jobs is nil.
Trump may be able to take some credit for Ford changing its mind on moving Lincoln MKC production out of its Louisville plant. But it’s incorrect to claim Ford is keeping the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky rather than moving it to Mexico. Trump can’t take credit for stopping something that was never going to happen.
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