President Trump celebrated and took credit for Foxconn’s pledge to build a major LCD plant in Wisconsin during a White House ceremony on Wednesday.
With Gov. Scott Walker (R), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) by his side, Trump said that “if I didn’t get elected, [Foxconn Chairman Terry Gao] would not be spending $10 billion.”
“His great company has seen our — you know, you see exactly what I’m saying — our administration’s work to remove job-killing regulations — he’s been watching — to institute Buy American and Hire American, and all of those policies, and to pursue the steps necessary to revitalize American industry, including repealing and replacing Obamacare — we better get that done, fellas, please,” Trump said, according to the White House’s website.
While the plant will create about 3,000 jobs, Trump and Walker claim that when construction work is factored in, the project could create as many as 13,000. But those jobs come at a huge price. Before plans for the plant move forward, Wisconsin lawmakers will have to approve a public subsidy package of up to $3 billion.
Bloomberg reports that “[a]t $519 per citizen, it would have been cheaper to buy an iPhone for every man, woman and child in the midwestern state… Wisconsin is paying as much as $1 million per job, which will carry an average salary of $54,000.”
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that the subsidy package is nearly 50 times larger than any other offered in state history, and “would total more than the combined yearly state funding used to operate the University of Wisconsin System and the state’s prison system.”
Specifics of the deal aside, it’s unclear whether Trump should even be taking credit for it. At far back as late 2013, Foxconn was planning to open a manufacturing plant in the U.S. The company, which has a poor record on workers’ rights issues, struck a tentative a deal with the state of Pennsylvania to build a plant there in November of that year, but plans fell through. Talks with Pennsylvania continued until early this year.
But Trump — who hasn’t shepherded a single major piece of legislation through Congress yet and is hungry for wins — touted the deal anyway.
Thank you Foxconn, for investing $10 BILLION DOLLARS with the potential for up to 13K new jobs in Wisconsin! MadeInTheUSA🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/jJghVeb63s
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2017
Wisconsin Rep. Jimmy Anderson (D) views things differently than Walker and Trump. In a press release headlined “Foxconn Should be Paying Wisconsin to Access the Greatest Workforce on Earth,” Anderson writes that “Wisconsin taxpayers should not be subsidizing private corporations at the expense of our children, schools, and roads.”
“The Republican-controlled legislature and Governor Walker have consistently asked you to tighten your belt or have rejected other opportunities to create family-sustaining jobs, but when a multinational corporation wants a multibillion-dollar handout, Governor Walker more than bends over backwards,” Anderson continues.
The Foxconn deal is far from the first time Trump has taken credit for job announcements that were in the works well before he took office. As ThinkProgress detailed in April, Trump did the same thing following announcements from Intel, Exxon, Toyota, Charter, Ford, and SoftBank.
On the other hand, Trump was silent last week when Carrier laid off 338 employees at its Indianapolis plant — cuts that came months after then-President-elect Trump held a news conference at the plant and applauded himself for striking a deal that provided the company $7 million in state incentives to save about 800 jobs from outsourcing.