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.