President Trump’s radical trade agenda has him reduced to making up stories about new steel plants being built when no such plans exist, and now has put him in the even more demeaning position of begging an American company to reconsider their plans to shift production to the E.U. after his unilateral and economically disastrous tariffs made their products uncompetitive in the European market.
The company in question is the iconic American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson.
“Harley-Davidson, please — build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA, please, okay? Don’t get cute with us. Don’t get cute,” Trump said. “They don’t realize the taxes are coming way down. They don’t realize that yet. I’ve spent a lot of time with them. Build ’em in the USA. Your customers won’t be happy if you don’t, I’ll tell you that.”
Trump’s embarrassing plea to the company to ignore the damage his policies have caused to their business were made as he gave what passes off as a speech by his standards at the groundbreaking of a new plant being opened in Wisconsin by Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn.
Ironically, the Taiwanese company is following the exact same strategy as Harley-Davidson by moving jobs from their normal base of operations in China to the U.S. in response to tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.
The big difference is that Wisconsin was forced to offer around $4 billion dollars in subsidies and tax breaks to win the prize of having the Foxconn facility open in their state, according to the Wall Street Journal.
That means that each of the 13,000 jobs Foxconn says it will create at the facility will be receiving a government subsidy of $307,692 per job. That’s $690.25 from the pockets of every single citizen in the state going to the Taiwanese manufacturer, enough to pay for 67,751 state jobs paying the median U.S. income of $59,039 per annum.
It is forecasted that it will take nearly 25 years for the Wisconsin state government to recoup its investment.
Despite the president’s disingenuous and obviously false suggestion that the management at Harley-Davidson “don’t realize the taxes are coming way down,” the fact is they would have been fired long ago if they were indeed that clueless.
The company cut 350 jobs across its operation in late January right after the tax break became law and right before it used the proceeds of its lowered taxes to approve a half-cent dividend increase and buy back up to 15 million shares in February rather than invest the money the way that Republicans in Congress swore that businesses would use their sudden windfalls: for pay increases and additional hiring.
In May, Harley-Davidson then announced the closing of its Kansas City plant and the slashing of 800 jobs, many of which will be transferred to a new factory in Bangkok, Thailand.
Trump’s insincere pleas for Harley-Davidson to reverse course on the business decisions his policies have enabled will likely fall on deaf ears no matter how much supposed time the president has spent with company executives.
If Trump has indeed gotten to know Harley senior management, he likely discovered that they are just like him and other entitled business executives, interested primarily in their own benefit and unconcerned about the welfare of their soon-to-be former employees.
If Trump were actually concerned about the working class population of America, he never would have signed the Republican tax bill that violated most of the empty campaign promises he made to blue-collar America and he would have never embarked on his harmful trade and tariff war which economists have nearly universally denounced.