CONTROVERSY SWIRLS AROUND FOXCONN GROUNDBREAKING
Facing massive protests over immigration policy and xenophobia, Scott Walker and Donald Trump were scheduled to stand firm together to celebrate Foxconn’s ceremonial groundbreaking.
But media attention prior to the event focused on Trump’s tweet storm against Harley-Davidson. The iconic Milwaukee-based company, which has become part of the state’s image, recently announced plans to move some of its production to Europe to minimize EU tariffs on its bikes. The tariffs were leveled in response to Trump’s tariffs on EU steel and aluminum.
The move is not expected to affect Harley-Davidson’s workforce in Wisconsin.
In his tweets, Trump denied having anything to do with the company’s move. He said H-D already had planned to move more of its operations overseas, and he threatened to punish the company with unspecified taxes.
H-D countered that EU tariffs on its American-made motorcycles jumped between 6 percent and 31 percent as a result of the escalating trade war, adding about $2,200 in cost to the average Harley sold in the EU.
The protesters and the brouhaha over H-D undermined the purpose of an event that was supposed to generate great political optics for Walker and Trump, who has claimed repeatedly that he’s responsible for bringing Foxconn to Wisconsin.
Foxconn also has stirred controversy in the state due to Walker’s awarding as much as $4.5 billion to the manufacturer. In addition, state Republicans have given the company waivers for environmental regulations, promised it seven million gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan, and offered many other incentives that are unpopular with voters.
The protests, which targeted Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border as well as the president’s ban on Muslims entering the country, heaped yet another layer of controversy over the occasion.
Walker, who has refused to comment on Trump’s immigration policy, has benefitted from visits by Trump and Mike Pence to the state to help him raise funds for his third gubernatorial bid.
— Louis Weisberg