Wisconsin taxpayers just got left on the hook for billions of dollars in corporate welfare for a project that President Trump promised would back manufacturing jobs but whose owners have now decided will go in a different direction.
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The state’s former Republican Gov. Scott Walker inked a deal to give a staggering $4.5 billion in public money to Foxconn — the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer whose horrific labor practices literally drives its workers to commit suicide — in exchange for a manufacturing plant with just 13,000 jobs.
President Trump held a White House ceremony to announce the deal in mid-2017 and showed up at the groundbreaking ceremony (video below) in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin.
He’s promoted Walker’s welfare deal as part of his tour of an existing Foxconn plant last summer, calling the public boondoggle “just the beginning.” But Reuters reports that Foxconn just pulled the ultimate con:
Foxconn Technology Group is reconsidering plans to make advanced liquid crystal display panels at a $10 billion Wisconsin campus, and said it intends to hire mostly engineers and researchers rather than the manufacturing workforce the project originally promised.
Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou… said about three-quarters of Foxconn’s eventual jobs will be in R&D and design – what he described as “knowledge” positions – rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs.
Trump’s big corporate welfare deal was a horrible deal for taxpayers at $346,000 per job, but eight months after the splashy photo-ops, Foxconn has only hired 178 people.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Foxconn is making off with the loot and breaking their promises, after all.
Gov. Walker called it a $3.2 billion dollar subsidy, but the New Yorker figured out that he omitted another $1.3 billion in infrastructure costs to bring the total to $4.5 billion. They estimated that the company — whose revenues are over 150 billion — annually could wind up with a million dollar windfall for each job created.
If that wasn’t enough, Republicans virtually steamrolled federal legal protections against pollution and stripped private property owners of their rights to move the plant into Wisconsin, according to the New Republic:
Special grants from the Environmental Protection Agency exempted pollution limits at the plant, which will utilize several hazardous chemicals. The state cleared the way to dump waste runoff into wetlands.
The Wisconsin legislature essentially turned over the court system to Foxconn, giving it a special appeals process direct to the conservative-leaning state supreme court. Eminent domain was used aggressively to push residents off the proposed site.
Adding insult to injury, today Foxconn also told Reuters that it’s scaling back its hiring goals by over 80% from its original target of 5,200 employees by 2020. Nobody actually knows when they’ll hire all 13,000 workers, but they’ll continue to collect their corporate welfare checks regardless.
Wisconsin voters sent Scott Walker packing last November, and his Trump-driven Foxconn boondoggle was one of the biggest reasons why.
Republicans are obsessed with picking winners and losers in the private sector by throwing bundles of cash at the same corporations which they virtually excused from paying taxes in last year’s tax scam bill.
Sadly, the state of Wisconsin’s wage earners will be stuck with the tab for Trump’s pricey public relations campaign no matter how few Americans that the Foxconn project hires in a deal which has already become the largest corporate subsidy to a foreign company in US history.
Watch President Trump break ground at the Foxconn corporate welfare money pit in Wisconsin here: