In June, President Obama participated in a PBS townhall and was asked about Trump’s promise to keep Carrier’s Indiana plant in the U.S. The townhall participant — Eric Cottonham, a member of the Steelworkers Union employed by Carrier — asked Obama if anything could be done to stem the tide of jobs flowing out of the country, as Trump had recently promised to do.
“I see here you’re doing a lot of things, but in Indianapolis, there’s nothing there for us,” he asked. “I mean, what’s next? I mean, what can we look forward to in the future as far as jobs, employment, whatever? Because all of our jobs has left or in the process of leaving, sir.”
“Those jobs of the past are just not going to come back,” Obama told Cottonham.
Instead, Obama advised workers losing their jobs to learn how to adapt their skills to “some of these new technologies,” in particular, the “clean energy sector.”
“Let’s focus on those,” he suggested. “The days when you just being able to — you just being willing to work hard and you can now walk into a plant and suddenly there’s going to be a job for you for 30 years or 40 years, that’s just not going to be there for our kids because more and more, that stuff’s going to be automated.”
Obama also singled out Trump for derision, saying:
When somebody says, like the person you just mentioned who I’m not going to advertise for, that he’s going to bring all these jobs back, well how exactly are you going to do that? What are you going to do? There’s — there’s no answer to it. He just says, “Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.” Well, how — what — how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually, the answer is he doesn’t have an answer.
On Wednesday, the White House downplayed Carrier’s decision to remain in the U.S. And today the White House doubled down, claiming Trump would need to make a similar announcement every week for eight years to match Obama’s record.