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President Trump Just Re-Announced Another Old Corporate Hiring Plan

A plan by Charter Communications to hire 20,000 new staff was first discussed in mid-2015, but it was big news in the Oval Office on Friday.

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In a ritual that is becoming familiar to White House watchers, President Trump, flanked by businessmen, announced on Friday that another American company has told him it plans to go on a hiring and investment spree during his presidency.

And in a detail that has become equally familiar, those hiring and investment plans were recycled from plans first revealed more than 18 months ago.

This time around it was Charter Communications, the cable company that last year bought Time Warner Cable for $55 billion. As Charter was pushing for the detail to be approved by US regulators, it said it would hire about 20,000 new workers if the deal went through, as part of a plan to bring outsourced call centers back to the US. The takeover was approved and finalized in spring 2016.

"We've already begun insourcing efforts for the new company. The process of insourcing will take several years and will require that we hire 20,000 people," Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said on a call with analysts last August. "That process has already started, as we are building Charter's first Spanish-language call center in McAllen, Texas, with approximately 600 seats."

On Friday, Rutledge stood behind Trump as those numbers were re-announced in the Oval Office.

"Today I am thrilled to announce that Charter Communications has just committed to investing $25 billion here in the United States and is committed further to hiring 20,000 American workers over the next four years," Trump said. "Charter is also committed to completely ending its offshore call centers ... and to base 100% of its call centers in the United States. ... Tom will be opening a brand-new, beautiful call center in McAllen, Texas, ... where they will create 600 new American jobs."

The $25 billion, four-year investment also seems like business as usual for the company. Charter's total capital expenditure last year, not counting expenses for the merger, was $7.1 billion according to its financial filings. That means that if investments remained at 2016 levels for the next four years, it would invest $28 billion.

On Friday, Rutledge gave the company's ongoing capital expenditure a fresh coat of paint, saying the company was "excited about the opportunity in the right regulatory climate and the right tax climate to make major infrastructure investments."

"We're going to spend $25 billion predicated on the regulatory consistency and efficiency we expect as a country," Rutledge said.

Justin Venech, a Charter spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News that today's announcement went above and beyond previous comments.

"We have spoken before about plans to hire 20,000 before, it wasn't a commitment," Venech said, adding that the specific four-year timeframe for the hires was a new commitment. He said that the spending on infrastructure was "based on the deregulatory policies of the administration and the FCC."

The Federal Communications Commission's new chairman, Ajit Pai, is a longtime critic of many Obama-era regulations on cable companies, including the FCC's net neutrality rules. Congress just voted to lift privacy rules that FCC voted to impose on internet providers last year.

This is far from the first time an old hiring or investment announcement has been given a new lease of life by the white house. In February, Intel said it would invest $7 billion in a Arizona semiconductor factory, again with its chief executive standing text to Trump in the Oval Office. The company had previously announced its investment in the factory almost exactly six years earlier, alongside President Obama.

During the transition, Japanese telecom conglomerate and Sprint owner SoftBank said it would invest $50 billion into the United States and create 50,000 new jobs over the next four years. SoftBank's chief executive Masayoshi Son was already working on creating a $100 billion fund for technology investments, with funding from Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, a long-running program by ExxonMobil to invest in energy facilities in Texas and Louisiana was announced again by both Exxon and President Trump, with a White House statement lifting text word-for-word from Exxon's press release.

Matthew Zeitlin is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Zeitlin reports on Wall Street and big banks.

Contact Matthew Zeitlin at matt.zeitlin@buzzfeed.com.

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