Imagine that you're a Republican politician that is under 50% in the polls, facing an angry constituency and a tough opponent in next year's reelection bid. What do you do?
Well, if you're Scott Walker and Paul Ryan, you don your best suit, polish up your bottles of snake oil and try to pull off the biggest con job of your lifetime - maybe of all time.
Last week, they did just that. They made the announcement that the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn Technology Group had chosen southeast Wisconsin to build a huge $10 billion plant that will create tens of thousands of jobs, averaging over $50,000 a year in pay. All the taxpayers have to do to get in on this amazing business windfall was pony up a mere $3 billion (yes, that's billion with a b). in incentives.
It was such a big deal that they all flew to Washington, D.C., so that Trump and Pence could get in on the photo ops. Political pundits were saying that this announcement was sure to make both Walker and Ryan locks for their reelections. So much so that Walker and Ryan both ran digital ads, like the one above, to prop themselves up.
But the wheels started falling off their campaign buses even as they were making the announcement and accepting the applause and accolades of their fellow Republicans and the most gullible of people.
First, they had to hope like hell that Foxconn actually came through on the deal and actually built a plant. Foxconn hasn't even picked a location for said plant yet. And lest we forget, the good people of Pennsylvania are still waiting for their Foxconn plant which will never be built.
Then there's the number of jobs that will be created. At the announcement, Trump said it would be 50,000 jobs. Walker quickly dropped that number to 13,000 jobs. Then it was 10,000 jobs. Now, per Foxconn, it's only 3,000 jobs and maybe someday they'll add more. Maybe.
Then there's the issue of pay. The Republicans said that the average pay would be $53,000 per year. But one look at what Foxconn does pay their workers, the only way that this would happen in Wisconsin is if every single employee was an engineer or in upper management. The actual workers, the assemblers, only make $9.20 per hour or about $19,000 a year. Even if they put in the maximum number of overtime hours every day of every week of the year, they still come well below the promised number.
And while we're talking about the workers, how about their working conditions? Well, in China, their plants are sweatshops where working conditions are so bad that the workers were committing suicide by jumping off the roofs. Things got so bad that Foxconn had to install suicide nets on their buildings.
Another big, red flag is the fact that the Foxconn CEO had compared workers to animals and got management advice from a zoo director:
"I am managing over one million animals every day and it's such a headache. But our zoo chief knows that he can put tigers and lions together, but not tigers and chickens together. So I want to learn from him," Gou said at the company party at the zoo, according to a translation of his comments shown on FTV, a cable news station in Taiwan.
OK, so there won't be that many jobs and they won't pay as well as was hoped. It's still a great thing, right? Can't you just feel the economic boom coming?
Well, there's the cost to consider.
The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau of Wisconsin did the number crunching and found that Wisconsin wouldn't recover the cost of the investment for 25 years - and that's only if Foxconn hired the full 13,000. If the actual number is 3,000 jobs, it would take a helluva lot longer to see a return on that investment. And if the workers were from out of state, like Illinois, that would lengthen the recovery time even further.
Given the overly generous tax laws the Republicans already have in place for businesses, Foxconn would not only not have to pay a dime in taxes for several years, they would actually be collecting over $300 million of taxpayer money each year.
None of that even covers the environmental nightmare of it all. Foxconn will be allowed to build without an environmental impact study, will be allowed to fill in wetlands and divert waterways at will, and will be allowed to discharge their waste directly into Lake Michigan.
Another red flag is that Foxconn has put a deadline of September 30 to approve the deal. They have even given a veiled threat of talking about building another plant in Michigan. Walker has already complied with that by calling a special session of the state legislature to rubber stamp it.
The deal is such a big, heaping pile of bovine excrement that even Americans for Prosperity - the front group for the Koch Brothers - have come out against it, although their beef is that the Kochs aren't getting the same sweetheart deals.
Showing that not all Republicans are totally brain dead meat puppets, the leader of the Republican-controlled state senate says he doesn't have the votes to get it passed as is.
Interestingly, Lyin' Ryan, who touts the deal in his ad, has started to back away from it and are telling callers that it's strictly a state issue and he has nothing to do with it.
No matter which way this goes, someone is going to pay a very high price. I hope like hell it's Walker and Ryan and any other reprobate that goes along with it rather than the taxpayers.