Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and Congressman Paul Ryan have betrayed their “small government” principles by agreeing to give Foxconn $3 billion worth of state funds to manufacture digital touch screens at a new factory in the land of the Cheese Heads. The two talk a good game, yet when push came to shove, both abandoned their high-minded rhetoric and threw taxpayers under the bus. Way under the bus.
Corporate Welfare For Foxconn
How deeply did the pair stab their constituents in the back? The deal may cost taxpayers nearly a quarter of a million dollars per job created, according to the Washington Post. Let’s do the math. Wisconsin wants to pay Foxconn $3 billion to build a 20 million square foot factory in the southeastern corner of the state near the Illinois border. Ryan and Walker are telling their constituents the factory will employ 30,000 people. Actually, Foxconn is not committing to more than 3,000.
Under the plan, the state of Wisconsin would fork over between $200 million and $250 million a year for the next 15 years. The Washington Post notes that if the factory actually ends up employing 13,000 workers, that could cost Wisconsin taxpayers as much as $230,700 per worker.
Spreading The Gospel According To Koch
Paul Ryan once blasted Barack Obama for supporting “big business” and “crony capitalism.” In a 2012 op-ed piece entitled “Republicans Must Return To Free Market Principles,” he wrote “The protection of big business remains a common thread in Mr Obama’s policies, which have come at the expense of the consumer, the taxpayer and the entrepreneur. A growing coalition of reformers — rooted in citizen movements across the political spectrum – reject this pernicious crony capitalism. Our solutions promote an opportunity society, one that is rooted in the US commitment to free enterprise.”
Scott Walker is an acolyte of the Koch brothers, who are the wizards behind the “small government” curtain. In 2015, Charles Koch gave an impassioned address to an ultra-conservative convention in Orange County, California. He told the uber wealthy gathered there that they face a “life and death” decision regarding tax breaks and government subsidies. “Business leaders (must) recognize that their behavior is suicide, that it is suicide long term. To survive, long term, they have to start opposing, rather than promoting, corporate welfare.”
And yet here we are. Two of the loudest critics of corporate welfare are giving away the store to Foxconn and sticking the taxpayers with the bill. One can only wonder what’s in it for Walker and Ryan.
Showing the kind of class typical of Republicans today, Walker went barnstorming across the state last week to sell people on the plan. “There’s a whole lot of people out there scrambling to try and come up with a reason not to like this,” Walker said in Eau Claire. “I can tell you, that’s fine, but I think they can go suck lemons. The rest of us are going to cheer and figure out how we get this thing going forward.”
Environmental Rules Tossed Aside
Not only is this deal going to whack Wisconsin residents in their wallets, it will exempt Foxconn from several state environmental rules. Can’t have those squinty-eyed bureaucrats gumming up the wheels of progress, now can we? The proposed agreement would allow Foxconn to discharge dredged materials, fill wetlands, change the course of streams, build artificial bodies of water that connect with natural waterways, and build on a river bed or lake bed, all without obtaining the permits required of other businesses. Foxconn would also be relieved of the need to file a state environmental impact statement, something required for much smaller projects.
To repeat, the resulting costs to human health with be enormous, but that’s not part of the $230,700 per worker noted above.
Both Republicans and Democrats in Wisconsin are lining up to express support for the deal. Martha Laning, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said she applauded Walker’s move to bring more jobs to Wisconsin but questioned the terms. “We want to see this proposal,” she said. “This is the largest investment that Wisconsin has ever done, so we are cautiously moving forward and asking: What is the return on investment for Wisconsin taxpayers?”
State senator Dave Hansen, a Democrat who represents Green Bay, is not convinced. He says that moving quickly on the $3 billion incentive package would be “a serious case of legislative malpractice,” according to Fortune. He is concerned that Foxconn will replace jobs at the plant with robots, as it has done at other facilities. “Before the governor and legislators mortgage the future of Wisconsin taxpayers, possibly for decades, they should think very carefully about the long term needs of the state rather than their own re-election,” he says.
Principles? What Principles?
That last part is the key. Both Walker and Ryan are clearly abandoning every principal they ever had in order to seal the deal. Maybe it’s a good deal for Wisconsin. Maybe it isn’t. But those two politicians have just proved that neither can trusted to adhere to the beliefs they want to cram down the throats of others. Such hypocrisy is breathtaking. [Editor’s Note: To repeat, “such hypocrisy is breathtaking.”]
The message so carefully crafted by the Koch brothers about small government, killing the Affordable Care Act, the supposed “war on coal,” the narrative that climate change is a hoax, the drive to privatize Social Security — all of them are just lies made up to bamboozle the electorate and shatter it into warring factions. The result will be more power for the Kochs and their wealthy friends, more gerrymandering to defeat the will of the people, and more fragmentation of American society.
Voting for liars who have no intention of adhering to their dearly held principles is not in anyone’s best interests — unless your last name is Koch or you have several billion dollars in the bank.
Source: Washington Post
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