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In Speech to Boeing, Trump Offers Very Different View on Job Creation than Obama
02/20/2017 Donald Trump Lesley F
keywords: Jobs Growth Foreign Labor

Since Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency, touring Boeing factories has become a staple of every president's push to craft and communicate their job creation agenda. However, not every president draws the same conclusions from their visits to Boeing, as illustrated by stark differences between Trump and Obama's job creation plans following their respective visits to Boeing.

Following President Donald Trump's tour of the Boeing factory last Friday, he gave a speech to gathered reporters that highlighted his rosy outlook on American manufacturing job creation. Trump pointed to the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner as an example of a growing American renaissance in manufacturing, and he stated that Boeing's South Carolina facility was leading the charge in the creation of additional U.S. factory jobs.

Trump's outlook stands in sharp contrast to former President Barack Obama's outlook only five years prior. When Obama toured a Boeing factory in Everett, Washington in 2012, the former president came away with a clear message to the press and the American public: with automation, a reduction in factory jobs was inevitable and Americans needed to make economic changes to address shifts due to technology.

In his speech on Friday, Trump made it clear that he does not believe that automation is the most salient threat to American manufacturing. Instead, the president pointed to inexpensive foreign labor and unbalanced trade agreements as the cause of any recent job losses within the industry. Trump stated that "our goal as a nation must be to rely less on imports and more on products made here in the USA," and that "we're going to fight for every last American job."

Furthermore, while both presidents agreed that job creation was one of their fundamental goals, the two appear to have disagreed on the correct path forward. Obama seemed to accept the death of American's manufacturing heyday and instead sought to bolster exports in an effort to support further job creation in other areas of the services sector. Trump has made a bold shift away from this policy, asserting that the former American dominance in factory jobs can be restored. 

Still, Trump's use of the Boeing 787 as an example of exemplary American manufacturing actually lends some credence to Obama's narrative of the shifting nature of American manufacturing. A report by the Teal Group notes that the Boeing 787 relies heavily on subcontractors from countries such as China, Japan, Turkey, Canada and South Korea for critical parts. As Trump continues to push his job creation agenda, it is yet to be seen how possible his manufacturing goals truly are.


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