Not only is this good news, notes Ben Shapiro, it comes without any strong-arming like we saw in the Carrier deal.
In the Carrier deal, Trump cudgeled Carrier into accepting a $7 million tax incentive in return for a $65 million operating loss by threatening Carrier’s parent company with the loss of billions of dollars in federal contracts. That’s crony capitalism. It’s special incentives given to one company, crammed down with the warning that the government will club them into oblivion if they don’t take the deal.
Not so with SoftBank.
According to CNBC.com, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son met with Trump at Trump Tower on Tuesday afternoon. Trump then announced that Son would invest $50 billion in the United States in order to create 50,000 jobs. Trump said on Twitter that “Masa said he would never do this had we (Trump) not won the election!” In October, media reported on SoftBank’s $100 billion investment fund set up with Saudi Arabia; CNBC reports that according to Dow Jones, the $50 billion will come from that fund. It was unclear whether the fund would have been slated to invest $50 billion in the United States without Trump’s election, but we have no evidence that Trump was fibbing.
Is it true, as Trump claims, that SoftBank wouldn’t have done this if Hillary had won the election? Quite possibly, yeah. SoftBank owns 80 percent of Sprint; they’ve been trying to acquire T-Mobile for years now. But they ran into trouble with the Obama administration on antitrust grounds, as reducing the number of major U.S. carriers from four to three (AT&T, Verizon, and the Sprint/T-Mobile hybrid) would have further hurt competition in the industry. Obama’s FCC and DOJ blocked the deal and SoftBank gave up on the merger in 2014. But the company’s interest didn’t fade and Son kept his eye on the election, knowing that a Republican victory would make for a very different antitrust environment. Trump delivered on November 8th so now Son’s delivering for him with a much bigger political win than the Carrier deal: 50,000 jobs and $50 billion in investments — if the Sprint/T-Mobile deal is approved, of course. I have a feeling that the Sprint/T-Mobile deal will be approved.
Given that the investment fund with Saudi Arabia already existed, though, it’s possible that the same offer would have been floated to President Hillary. Fifty thousand jobs is a nice headline for any incoming president, even one who neglected the Rust Belt. Son would have tried to sell her on the merger by encouraging her to forge her own political identity distinct from Obama’s by approving the deal. Hillary would have had to balance the benefit from that “50 and 50” incentive against the cost of her base howling at her that she’s caving to big business already by quashing an antitrust action that Obama’s DOJ opposed. It’s an interesting question whether she would have gone for it. Trump doesn’t have the same conflict among his own base, though, and deregulation was always on his and the GOP’s agenda, so this is an easy unconflicted win for him. Let’s just hope SoftBank keeps its promise.