Wisconsin's Koch-funded Republican Gov. Scott Walker lavished the Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn with over four billion in taxpayer subsidies last year in a deal that he claimed would create 13,000 jobs in the state, but that agreement is increasingly looking like a massive con-job amid new reports on Tuesday that Foxconn is planning to bring in Chinese workers to fill spots that the governor insisted would be filled by Wisconsinites.
"If Foxconn has to import Chinese engineers to Wisconsin, that would be yet another insult to Wisconsin taxpayers," Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, told Common Dreams. "This is already The Great Disappearing Jobs Deal of recent U.S. history. It's also the biggest mega-subsidy deal ever given to a foreign-based company. How tone-deaf would it be if the best-paid jobs don't even go to Wisconsin taxpayers?"
"As we predicted, Scott Walker's $4.5 billion taxpayer-funded election Hail Mary was more like punting to a foreign billionaire on second down."
—One Wisconsin NowAccording to the Wall Street Journal, Foxconn "is considering bringing in personnel from China to help staff a large facility under construction in southern Wisconsin as it struggles to find engineers and other workers in one of the tightest labor markets in the U.S."
President Donald Trump and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have both openly championed the Foxconn agreement as a boon for Wisconsin workers. Last year, Trump took credit for convincing Foxconn to build a factory in Wisconsin.
"The company, the Taiwanese supplier to Apple Inc., has been trying to tap Chinese engineers through internal transfers to supplement staffing for the Wisconsin plant," the Journal reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter. "Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou is looking to company engineers in China to transfer."
While Foxconn issued a statement denying the Journal's reporting, critics of Walker—who is locked in an extremely close race with Democratic challenger Tony Evers—were quick to highlight the company's alleged plans as further evidence that the governor's "deal" with the Taiwanese multinational has been a massive fraud from the start:
— One Wisconsin Now (@onewisconsinnow) November 6, 2018
Scott Walker bartered off Wisconsin’s future to a foreign corporation with a promise to create great jobs for Wisconsinites.
From today’s Wall Street Journal: “Foxconn Considers Bringing Chinese Workers to Wisconsin as U.S. Labor Market Tightens” https://t.co/34DJ8IcNh6
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) November 6, 2018
Apparently, Scott Walker gave billions in subsidies to a Tawainese company, so that it would despoil land in Wisconsin while paying Chinese workers to make iPhones. pic.twitter.com/tFTFvH19IO
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— Eric Levitz (@EricLevitz) November 6, 2018
LMAO. One last reminder that @ScottWalker is an absolute fraud.
"Foxconn Considers Bringing Chinese Workers to Wisconsin" https://t.co/VFItKP6NV7
— Alex Japko (@ajapko) November 6, 2018
The Foxconn deal is a fraud. Scott Walker is a fraud. He always has been. pic.twitter.com/WvMI8RscIJ
— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) November 4, 2018
With Walker ensnared in what CNN described this week as his "toughest race yet," the Foxconn deal is increasingly becoming a political liability that could cost him the governor's mansion in Tuesday's midterm elections.
As the New Yorker's Dan Kaufman noted in a detailed look at the Foxconn deal over the weekend, the agreement—which is rapidly declining in popularity among Wisconsin voters—includes "taxpayer subsidies to the company totaling more than $4.5 billion, the largest subsidy for a foreign corporation in American history."
"Since Wisconsin already exempts manufacturing companies 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," Kaufman observes. "Depending on how many jobs are actually created, taxpayers will be paying between two hundred and twenty thousand dollars and more than a million dollars per job."
In an op-ed for The Progressive last year, Wisconsin ironworker and Democratic House candidate Randy Bryce—AKA "The Iron Stache"—declared, "We deserve better than corporate boondoggles like Foxconn, and our government’s leadership needs to stand on the side of workers."
Echoing this sentiment in a tweet on Tuesday as voters headed to the polls, the advocacy group People for Bernie tweeted, "Don't let Scott Walker and his billionaire cronies steal an election."
Wisconsin is going to be tight. It might not even be called tonight. Check to see if you have friends there and get them to the polls. Don't let Scott Walker and his Billionaire cronies steal an election: https://t.co/RcWf0komTL #wivote https://t.co/SlrY8QJozY
— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) November 6, 2018