President Trump's administration claimed credit Friday for an announcement by cable provider Charter Communications that it intends to hire 20,000 workers in the United States and invest $25 billion in high-speed Internet over the next four years.
But parts of that pledge by Charter chief executive Tom Rutledge had already been made months ago. And some policy analysts say the investment isn't as large as it may seem.
In a statement Friday on Twitter, President Trump said he was “thrilled” to announce Charter's decision after a meeting with Rutledge at the White House, portraying the highlights as news.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer highlighted Charter's commitment to create tens of thousands of “new” jobs, while Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai also took credit.
“Our investment-friendly policies, along with the administration’s overall regulatory approach, are already producing results,” he said in a statement.
But there is little evidence to suggest the Trump administration played a major role in securing those commitments. Charter had announced those intended hires as far back as October, and the jobs — which will largely be filled by customer service workers — are “new” only in the sense that they have yet to be filled.
“At Charter, our commitment is to serve our customers directly,” the company said in a statement Friday. “In connection with our transactions with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks last year, we reaffirmed this resolve, stating that we expected to hire 20,000 new employees at Charter, many in customer service.”
What is new is Charter's pledge to invest $25 billion in broadband, as well as its four-year timeline. That amounts to an average investment of $6.25 billion a year. And the company has pressed to in-source more of its workforce rather than rely on outsourced labor.
But Charter, along with its recently acquired subsidiaries Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable, had already been spending an average of $5.3 billion a year on broadband for the past three years, Charter told The Post.
Trump can only plausibly claim credit for the difference, said Hal Singer, an economist at George Washington University's Institute of Public Policy.
“Trump is trying to take credit for a massive investment, when in reality it's only slightly more than what Charter had already been investing in prior years,” Singer said. “Even then, how can Trump possibly claim credit for that increase? What change in telecom policy under Trump can be credited for the increase?”
A spokesman for the White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has sought credit for previously-announced investments and job creation by other firms, including Carrier and SoftBank — leading critics to accuse the president of exaggerating his role in restoring U.S. jobs.