This may turn out to be the great dealmaker’s greatest scam yet.
Last month, at a rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, Donald Trump introduced Governor Scott Walker to the stage with a boast regarding a dubious, shared accomplishment. “I got him set up with an incredible company called Foxconn,” Trump told the crowd, referring to the Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant that had agreed to build its first U.S. plant in the Badger State. “[Foxconn] came to Wisconsin with the most incredible plan . . . It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. We toured it, and we had a ribbon-cutting a few months ago. And I handed it over to Scott . . . there’s no plant like it anywhere in the United States. One of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. One of the most incredible things.”
And it’s true! There is nothing like the literally incredible Foxconn deal in the United States, because the Foxconn deal—brokered by First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner—has turned out to be less of a jobs boon than an economic nuclear bomb, and not the good kind, either. To put it more elegantly, the Foxconn deal is the ultimate example of Trump promising Americans the world and then handing them a flaming bag of s–t.
Dan Kaufman, writing for The New Yorker, illuminates some of the many ways that the Foxconn deal will screw Wisconsin locals for years to come:
- The deal will cost taxpayers more than $4.5 billion in subsidies, but because manufacturing companies in Wisconsin are already exempt from paying taxes, “Foxconn, which generated a hundred and fifty-eight billion dollars in revenue last year, will receive much of this subsidy in direct cash payments from taxpayers”—the largest subsidy given to a foreign corporation in U.S. history
- If Wisconsinites ever see a return on their investment, it’ll be in 2042 at the earliest, according to analysis from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau
- Good old Scott Pruitt did Foxconn a solid by “overrul[ing] the objections of his staff to grant most of southeastern Wisconsin an exemption from limits on smog pollution” so the plant can poison the air to its heart’s delight
- The company has been granted special court privileges by the state legislature, like the ability to make numerous appeals of unfavorable rulings in a single case
- The town’s Village Board of Trustees has been using eminent domain to expel obstinate homeowners, forcing them to “sell at a price determined by the village.” They’ve been able to do so by decreeing the 2,800-acre area around the plant “blighted,” a designation typically reserved for property that is “detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare,” but which the board has extended to include property that “impairs or arrests the sound growth of the community”
All this, when the U.S. economy is already minting some 200,000 jobs a month, was designed to create 13,000 new, middle-class manufacturing jobs, as Foxconn and Trump promised. Except, as Kaufman reports, the Foxconn deal will actually create far fewer jobs, and most of them will not be of the blue-collar variety.