Washington, D.C. — As the effects of President Donald Trump’s broken economic promises come into focus across the Midwest, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is releasing a new video in a social media campaign to educate Americans on the impacts of the manufacturing recession. The campaign is telling stories of Americans such as Kim and Jim Mahoney, from Milwaukee, who, under pressure to sell their Racine County home for well below its value, decided not to leave to make room for President Trump’s now fumbled manufacturing deal.
In June 2018, President Trump and then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) promised 13,000 new manufacturing jobs for the state when they announced plans to build a 21.5 million-square-foot manufacturing campus for the Taiwanese electronics company Foxconn. The $3 billion deal was the largest state incentive ever given to a foreign company, but the plan to build the plant has largely stalled, costing the Wisconsin economy billions. Even if the project is completed, experts say it will be a net drag on the state’s economy. The location for the project was decided when President Trump and his then-chief of staff, Renice Priebus, flew over the city on Marine One. According to Priebus, President Trump pointed out the plot of land, and Gov. Walker worked to make it happen.
In order to develop the Foxconn facilities, the county government offered homeowners settlements to take their land and even forced some others to sell their homes at prices determined by the county government under the threat of Wisconsin’s eminent domain laws. Mahoney’s home was one of them, but she says that she and her husband worked for years to turn their property into their dream home and that they had no intention of leaving.
“They have forced 80 homeowners to sell their homes and have bulldozed them, and we weren’t going to take it,” she says. The Mahoney’s home, which is now surrounded by dirt plots bordering the mostly defunct Foxconn factory, was once a part of a vibrant family friendly neighborhood. She now says because of the failed project, all that has changed. “When we first moved into the neighborhood, all around us was cornfields, newer homes, nice manicured lawns, and nice landscaping—it almost felt like we lived in a park. Now, I think it’s shocking for people to see where we live,” she says. “We are the only house left standing.”
While speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony in 2018, President Trump heralded the Foxconn deal as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” calling it “one of the great deals, ever.” However, the deal that was supposed to invest up to $10 billion in Wisconsin has yet to live up to their promises. Despite the $1 billion tax incentive, Foxconn downsized its need for the 22 million-square-foot facility to approximately 1 million square feet and opted to mostly hire so-called knowledge workers, not manufacturing workers, as President Trump promised. As Mahoney says in the video, the Trump administration’s deal put the interest of Foxconn ahead of the Wisconsin families he promised to help.
“President Trump has been bragging about how he is going to bring back manufacturing to the United States, and he told us they were going to create 13,000 jobs,” she says. “The people who were looking forward to those manufacturing jobs are not going to find them with Foxconn. … President Trump is putting the interest of a wealthy, foreign corporation ahead of the state of Wisconsin.”
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