The Trump-Hyped Foxconn Wisconsin Deal Finally Falls Completely Apart

from the sucker-born-every-minute dept

You might recall how the Wisconsin GOP, with Donald Trump and Paul Ryan at the head of the parade, struck what they claimed was an incredible deal with Foxconn to bring thousands of high paying jobs to the state. Initially, the state promised Foxconn a $3 billion subsidy if the company invested $10 billion in a Wisconsin LCD panel plant that created 13,000 jobs. The amount of political hype the deal generated was utterly legendary, helping market Trump as a savvy dealmaker who’d be restoring technological greatness to the American Midwest.

Years later, and the deal continues to be exposed as little more than a taxpayer-funded bullshit parade.

After several years of reports making it very clear Foxconn never intended to live up to its promises (and a lot of half-truths and tap dancing by Foxconn), it finally acknowledged this week that the project was being dramatically scaled back:

“Taiwan electronics manufacturer Foxconn is drastically scaling back a planned $10 billion factory in Wisconsin, confirming its retreat from a project that former U.S. President Donald Trump once called ?the eighth wonder of the world.? Under a deal with the state of Wisconsin announced on Tuesday, Foxconn will reduce its planned investment to $672 million from $10 billion and cut the number of new jobs to 1,454 from 13,000.”

Experts had repeatedly warned that the deal was too good to be true, and likely would never recoup the taxpayer cost as structured. Those warnings were ignored. And unsurprisingly, as the subsidy grew fatter, the promised factory began to shrink further and further, to the point where it’s incredibly unlikely much of anything meaningful will be built at all. What does get built will be far, far smaller, and Wisconsin will dole out “just” $80 million in incentives, a thirty-fold decrease from the original subsidy package.

Like most boondoggles, this could have all been avoided with just a modicum of attention and skepticism. Outlets like The Verge had noticed that this deal was going absolutely nowhere as early as 2019, and Foxconn spent several years throwing around completely meaningless jargon to try and obfuscate that fact:

“Throughout its gyrations, Foxconn maintained that it would create 13,000 jobs, though what those 13,000 people would be doing shifted gradually from manufacturing to research into what Foxconn calls its ?AI 8K+5G ecosystem.? Other than buzzwords for high-resolution screens and high-speed cell networks, what this ecosystem is has never been fully explained. In February, a Foxconn executive cheerfully likened the company?s vague, morphing plans to designing and building an airplane midflight.”

While Trump called the Foxconn deal “the eighth wonder of the world,” it wound up being little more than a pile of taxpayer subsidized bullshit. And while scaled back, that’s all cold comfort now to the Wisconsin residents forced to move, or the hosting town forced to pay $160 million to buy properties and relocate families in the constriction zone. Or state leaders forced to pay $200 million on road improvements, tax exemptions and grants to local governments for worker training and employment.

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Comments on “The Trump-Hyped Foxconn Wisconsin Deal Finally Falls Completely Apart”

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

I’m shocked — shocked~! — that a business deal involving Donald Trump ended up being a giant load of horseshit that fucked over the working class while benefiting his personal interests. I don’t think this has ever happened before~.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Sane people understood why this was a problem…"

I’d argue that this would be the minority, then. Two kinds of moron kept Trump in power – the ones who believed him and the ones who didn’t but thought that it wasn’t their problem so who cares?

This is the US problem in a nutshell. Those both aware of the issues and invested into solving them rather than using them for fiscal or political leverage are so very damn few.

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David says:

Re: Re: No Teeth

Because China already had secured deals with Biden about how to help him steal the election and so only needed to keep up the pretense for a little longer.

See, that was easy and straight from the kookbook without requiring ingredients not already in the pantry.

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Bloof (profile) says:

Re: No Teeth

But Foxconn weren’t making squat in Wisconsin to begin with. They said they were going to, the GOP threw other people’s money at them because the lie would help them politically, everybody with half a brain meanwhile knew they wouldn’t and, surprise, they didn’t. Tariffs or no tariffs, no American jobs were outsourced, this was only ever a OR stunt fir Trump, Wisconsin republicans and Foxconn, who wanted free money and to distract people from the fact they’re the iPhone parts people whose workers try to kill themselves.

OGquaker says:

Re: Re: No kidding

I expect to see anti-suicide nets around our largest corporate factories and warehouses soon. Jeff & Walton & Chapek (Disney) et.al. have learned that robots are only a time & cost savings if their wage slaves have no access to taxpayer subsidized food stamps, rent and public transportation. A-hole Musk chooses to pay salaries and stock options above Government thresholds, and therefore must employ thousands of robots for repetitive tasks, something Fox-Con has avoided.
P.S. A-hole Musk incidentally employs 66,000 more people than the entire American coal industry, and was the only company that payed back their Obama E-car seed money; Ford, GM and Nissan have promised. The Jerk went to a Quaker business school.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Teeth

Uh-huh. The "deal" was first announced in July 2017. For the life of me, I can’t remember who was president then.

I do remember some tariffs being touted as the best thing ever for American workers back in July 2018. I can’t seem to remember who was president then either.

As those tariffs are still in place I guess I’m wondering what fucking world you live in where somehow, NOW a Taiwanese company has come to the realization that they can outsource something to one of their neighbor countries.

But you be you, Koby. If nothing else, you’re entertainment for those of us that don’t teeter on the verge of abject stupidity.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: No Teeth

Koby can made some valid points in non-section 230 arguments, but his regular failure on topics that get vaguely political just confirm what I believe about him – he gets his news from right-wing misinformation echo chambers and is upset that section 230 allows social media to block the klan buddies he made there.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: No Teeth

"Without the threat of tariffs to protect American workers…"

You need to read up on what factually happened, Koby, rather than just swallow what came out of the nether regions of the republican echo chamber.

Those tariffs Trump kept talking about and rammed in against the advice of every economist, ever? They hurt the US economy worse by far than they did China’s. That’s why Trump went over to talk to Emperor Xi and signed himself a far, far worse trade deal than what you had before – and then held it up as a win.

Those tariffs didn’t help the US worker any to begin with. The "Good and easy to win" trade war just meant the US handed another five years of hegemony to the Middle Kingdom.

"…it’s no doubt that Foxconn has nothing left to fear."

Foxconn never went into that deal with good intentions to begin with. While Trump was caroling this "great Foxconn deal" to the skies everyone actually looking found that Foxconn was funneling all the subsidies away, leaving a shell company helmed by a few disillusioned office workers sitting in a cheap concrete cubicle moving papers back and forth.

I must say, Koby, that it takes a special kind of mark to defend the fraud with the shell game after they’ve already packed up and skipped town with your money in their pocket.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Helpful advice from "drkkgt" breaking 17 month silence

Do ZOMBIES count for diversity?

drkkgt: 60 (6), 17 mo gap 30 Jul 2009 https://www.techdirt.com/user/drkkgt — sparse but did reply…

All hail the 3rd oldest active commentor! Since 28 Sep 2004!

Brent Ashley: 101 (6), 17 mo gap; 21 mo gap; 4 YEAR GAP after 2005; 3rd OLDEST 28 Sep 2004! https://www.techdirt.com/user/brentashley

"Brent Ashley" hasn’t commented since Oct 21st, 2019 and "drkkgt" not since Oct 10th, 2019. Yet both pop out after 17 months on same SLOW day! (18 total comments so far today, of which several regulars make two.)

Two commentors with nearly same gap CANNOT be taken as yet another coincidence. The most trivial estimate of the odds both show up this morning is roughly the square of the days they didn’t: 510510, or one in 260,000. Add in that one is merely making a correction, after surely ignoring dozens of prior opportunities, and it’s ASTRO-TURFING. — YES, a dull correction is actually MORE significant: the purpose of the astro-turfing is provide a background to make the site look "believable".* The zombies never bring themselves to attention, definitely never dissent.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Helpful advice from "drkkgt" breaking 17 m

"…but he’s never let that stop him from saying it anyway."

Well, to be fair his accusations that everyone who hasn’t posted for a while must be a Mike Masnick sock puppet is at least comprehensible. Not logical or sane by any means, but you can at least parse it and understand what he’s trying to say. This is a monumental improvement over his usual spiel, at least.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Helpful advice from "drkkgt" breaking 17 month silence

Do ZOMBIES count for diversity?

Well, to be fair, you spam EVERY single thread with your useless horseshit, capitalize RANDOM words that you THINK emphasize your useless horseSHIT, and then bitch AND complain about BEING blocked FOR spamming. Maybe we SHOULD SEE if there’s a way to measure TROLL diversity to see if IT’S just one stupid fuck, OR two.

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Anonymous Coward says:

It didn't "fall apart" -- scaled down.

What does get built will be far, far smaller, and Wisconsin will dole out "just" $80 million in incentives,

So you’re as usual exaggemerating.

Now, Techdirt constantly advocates that cities build networks and then allow corporations to access them — which is fascism, NOT capitalism. You just have Trump Derangement Syndrome which over-rides your usual love of gov’t funding fascism, or you just don’t want any actual production facilities in the US, or both.

I suppose Biden looks good to you because the "infrastructure" spending he proposes nearly all goes to destructive social programs, esp for illegal immigrants.

Benign Bodger says:

Re: Re: It didn't "fall apart" -- scaled down.

If I remember the term from old-school maths classes it is termed "lower limit zero" or something similar. If Foxcon builds something new that is the size of a fast-food joint they will have truly "scaled down." Besides, if Trump backed it, it is automatically a fantastic best-ever world-beating success.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: It didn't "fall apart" -- scaled down.

"I do not think it means what you think it means."

Considering how he usually advocates for ultra-authoritarianism and the abolition of good jurisprudens and burden of proof…I suppose we could give him the benefit of doubt and assume he’s simply projecting a confession in bad faith, rather than actually being the unteachable nitwit moron he keeps trying to prove he is.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It didn't "fall apart" -- scaled down.

Yeah but you know old Baghdad Bob – he used to accuse everyone else as a sock puppet from three of his own one-man-army set of nicks at once all the damn time.

It’s not just projection – he’s literally unable to grok the idea that the real reason he gets so much opposition is because he’s a fscking horrible person who acts in utterly repulsive ways.

Even the worst white power assholes and neo-nazis usually realize that screaming for the elimination of <N-word> and prison rape for gays and ‘aspies’ isn’t likely to go over well with most of the audience. Baghdad Bob just keeps failing to meet even that bar of standards of self-awareness.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It didn't "fall apart" -- scaled down.

It didn’t "fall apart" — scaled down

Yeah, tenfold. Just a ‘minor adjustment’ if you’re one of those mathematically challenged conservatives.

or you just don’t want any actual production facilities in the US

If any of you fuckheads knew how to math, you would’ve figured out that it would have been cheaper not to commit to anything with Foxconn. You sure can throw around all your precious little -ism’s but when it comes down to making business decisions, you guys are pretty fucking stupid. Case in point – 13,000 jobs is now barely 1,500, and it’s just ‘scaling down.’ I’d be willing to bet if it increased to 1502, your stupid ass will be on here calling it a ‘major ramp-up.’

Why don’t you jump on Koby’s fucked up argument and tell me how tariffs are involved? I only need 1 more item on my "shit-flinging trumptard’ bingo card…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: It didn't "fall apart" -- scaled down.

"Case in point – 13,000 jobs is now barely 1,500, and it’s just ‘scaling down.’ I’d be willing to bet if it increased to 1502, your stupid ass will be on here calling it a ‘major ramp-up.’"

Let me correct you on this; Foxconn first promised 13k jobs. Now they are promising 1500 jobs instead.

And since it has never looked like Foxconn intended to build that plant to begin with, I’m pretty sure none of the promised 1500 jobs will turn real either. Indeed, Foxconn began migrating all manufacturing to India and Burma around 2017. The only thing Wisconsin was good for was to hand out a four billion dollar tax subsidy in exchange for absolutely nothing.
And yet the Trump cult and the GOP keep defending the con man who walked away with their money, just because Dear Leader can not be wrong. It’s fscking Borat levels of dumb with those people.

Google "the verge 8th wonder of the world" for one of the very many columns written on the foxconn fraud.

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Anonymous Coward says:

yay for america

we all lose…
We keep bickering and tearing each other apart. All the while, Communist China keeps stacking paper and improving the IP that they steal from us. WWIII has already begun. Cyber attacks were the 1st wave. Biological warfare is the 2nd wave.
‘Who can tell, what magic spells, they’ll be doing for us’?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: yay for america

Why pay billion$ in military equipment when the same devastation can be attained with an ‘army’ of hackers –> to break the grid -and- a modified strain of the coronavirus –> to lower the enemy population?
We don’t need no freakin’ lasers and neutron bombs…we got hackers and virions!

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"He handled this just a well as he handled the pandemic."

That’s unfair. He got everything he wanted out of the Foxconn deal – an unswervingly devoted base of groupies so besotted with the promise of "13000 new jobs" that now that the wisconsin taxpayers are four billion in tax revenue in the hole and it looks like not a single job will actually be created they’ll still stand to defend him.

The pandemic still landed him with roughly 450k dead americans which wouldn’t have died even if all the US did was sit on its hands. And that did force him to smear every medical expert in america so he could cast doubt even on the fact that people had died at all.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'I'm sure they're telling the truth this time!'

Under a deal with the state of Wisconsin announced on Tuesday, Foxconn will reduce its planned investment to $672 million from $10 billion and cut the number of new jobs to 1,454 from 13,000."

This was a company that ‘hired’ people strictly to meet hiring quotas(and they failed at that too), if at this point anyone thinks they’ll even meet the drastically scaled down numbers I’ve got some amazing bridges and lunar real-estate to sell them.

After such a debacle the only ‘deal’ offered should be ‘you get nothing from the state, anything you want to build is entirely on you and you’ll be footing the entire bill’.

MightyMetricBatman says:

Re: 'I'm sure they're telling the truth this time!'

Hiring quotas as a contract term are not smart in a ‘at will’ state. If there isn’t clauses requiring how many employees at a certain salary for a certain length of time it will be gamed.

We hired 15,000 people for a single day then fired them all. Pay us as outlined in the contract. Sincerely, Foxconartists.

Anonymous Coward says:

the state promised Foxconn a $3 billion subsidy if the company invested $10 billion in a Wisconsin LCD panel plant that created 13,000 jobs.

subsidy: corporate welfare
invested: promise to spend
created: provide jobs

for a deal to be successful, ALL 3 conditions must be met! failing to fulfill the contract is a breach of contract that should come with a hefty fine ($10B) and the lose of the subsidy!

then we get more corporate fraud…..
Foxconn will reduce its planned investment to $672 million from $10 billion and cut the number of new jobs to 1,454 from 13,000.
and i am guessing that they get to keep the $3B corporate welfare too….

Anonymous Coward says:

Do any of these deals ever pan out?

New York dumped loads of money into corporate subsidy scams over the past decade with nothing to show for it. Taxpayers/voters do not seem to care. The flashy photo op ground breaking is all a politician needs. Tesla got New York to spend $1 billion on a factory with equipment to create 5000 jobs, which later became 1400 jobs in factory by 2020 (at least 500 of those in manufacturing) with 5000 statewide by 2028. It nearly reached the target by bringing on Panasonic to make solar panels, but then Panasonic dropped out. Covid got Tesla a deferral, but also caused it to shed hundreds of jobs. It is unknown when it will have to meet job targets, if ever. This is still not as bad as the idea that Tesla would create 40,000 jobs in Brandenburg. That was wacky beyond belief.

Politicians never suffer for these follies. People move on to the next shiny new deal that really will deliver economic growth until it doesn’t.

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