The White House today took credit for 20,000 new American jobs that were actually created in 2015, as part of assurances made to an Obama-appointed FCC chair to help pass a big money merger.
Charter Communications first announced the commitment to insourced jobs in an August 2015 SEC filing, three months after their $56.7 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable.
“Together, the Trans-Canada and Charter Communications announcements demonstrate the new economic model by what the president calls ‘the American model,’” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in his daily press briefing Friday.
“By slashing job killing regulations and reducing government burdens and lowering taxes, we will make it easier for all businesses to grow right here at home, generating jobs and boosting our economy by getting government out of the way.”
According to Tim Karr of the nonpartisan open internet watchdog FreePress, however, those new jobs may have never appeared if it weren’t for the FCC and its then-chairman, Barack Obama-appointee Tom Wheeler.
“This was planned well in advance as an enticement [Charter] put together to get that merger through, and it’s been repackaged by Charter to get press attention,” said Karr. “[Charter was] trying to allay merger concerns that there would be a loss of jobs, or ‘synergies,’ as they’re often called, and demonstrate that they were committed to sizable investments in the United States.”
Charter’s bid to buy Time Warner Cable came just a month after the FCC and Department of Justice made it clear they would block Comcast’s attempt to purchase TWC due to monopoly concerns.
“Charter committed to this level of investment to get a merger through, well before Trump won the election and Pai assumed the FCC chair,” Karr wrote in an email.
Before Spicer’s announcement, current FCC chairman and Trump appointee Ajit Pai similarly tried to pass off the investment as a Trump and Pai win on Friday.
“I’m pleased to see that our investment-friendly policies, along with the Administration’s overall regulatory approach, are already producing results,” he said. “I applaud Charter Communications for its announcement today that it intends to spend $25 billion in broadband infrastructure and technology over the next four years.”
Pai, however, voted against the merger because of regulations and conditions placed on Charter and Time Warner by then-Chairman Wheeler. The merger was approved anyway by a 3-2 margin last May.
“Chairman Wheeler's order isn't about competition, competition, competition; it's about regulation, regulation, regulation. It's about imposing conditions that have nothing to do with the merits of this transaction,” he told The Hill at the time.
When asked if Pai would’ve voted to approve the merger without the tens of thousands of jobs built into it, Karr said he believes so.
“His tendency, if his record is any indication, is to rubber stamp these kind of things,” he said. “With this FCC, [telecoms] will feel less of a need to convince Pai that the merger of large corporations is a bad thing.”
Charter sent a statement to The Daily Beast saying it “committed to a time frame for those hires” today.
“We have spoken about our plans to hire 20,000 before but it wasn’t a commitment,” said Charter spokesperson Justin Venech.