In the roughly two days since we learned that Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn will build a 13,000 employee facility in Southeastern Wisconsin, state Democrats have made clear they will oppose the development for purely political reasons. They believe the $10 billion complex and the jobs it brings will help Governor Scott Walker’s re-election prospects in 2018. Even before the official announcement, Democrats were assailing the plan in news releases. Given that they considered jobs their trump card in 2018, that’s probably not a surprise. But State Senator Dave Hansen went a step further yesterday.
The Cap Times quoted Hansen as saying the U.S. and specifically the Upper Midwest, make no sense as locations for manufacturing plants:
Hansen argued it “makes no economic sense to build manufacturing plants in the U.S. let alone the Midwest where labor costs are so much higher unless they plan to eventually replace those jobs with machines.”
“Based on the rate of technological change in the workplace and Foxconn’s admitted plans to automate its plants is it a wise move for taxpayers to be on the hook for potentially billions of dollars to create jobs that may not even exist in five years?” he asked.
Four Republican Northeast Wisconsin lawmakers ceased on Hansen’s comments in a mid-morning statement:
“With a planned investment of $10 billion and an opportunity for as many as 13,000 jobs to be created right here in Wisconsin, it’s beyond appalling to see Senator Hansen turn his back on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our state. I’m disappointed to see that Senator Hansen has abandoned blue collar workers and American-made products,” said Representative Jim Steineke.
“One need look no further than the shipyards and foundries in Marinette or the paper manufacturers scattered throughout the area to see that our area’s economy thrives on manufacturing,” noted Rep. John Nygren. “To argue that our state has no future in manufacturing products for today’s economy, is beyond insulting to businesses and workers around Wisconsin.”
“The ignorance that exists from the Senator from Green Bay is remarkable,” said Rep. John Macco. “My phone has been ringing non-stop since the Foxconn announcement from educational and business leaders from my district who are exhilarated by the opportunities that will come from this deal. It’s sad that has-been leaders can’t see the benefit to Northeast Wisconsin from this deal.”
“It’s a shame that Senator Hansen doesn’t understand that beyond the jobs created directly by this new employer, there will be countless other economic and employment benefits that will be felt across the state, including in northeast Wisconsin,” said Rep. David Steffen. “To think that someone would actively cheer against this type of economic growth is insane.”
Possible Democratic candidate for governor, Tony Evers, has also criticized the plan, as have Democratic legislative leaders. Two exceptions to that pile on have been Assembly Minority leader Peter Barca, whose district is in the area likely to benefit from the plant, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Gronik. Barca said the announcement was good news but said one such deal doesn’t make Walker’s administration. Gronik was emphatic in his support, quoted by WITI-TV as saying: “10,000 good-paying, family sustaining jobs for Wisconsin is a great thing for our state — period..“This should not be a partisan issue.” Gronik did say there needed to be transparency in the process.