Foxconn? What’s Foxconn?

The Scene from Whitewater, WisconsinOne reads that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker downplays Foxconn because deal not a sure campaign winner:

MADISON – Scott Walker said the state would ink a $3 billion contract this week with Asian tech giant Foxconn Technology Group, even as he downplayed the deal and pointed to other jobs being created through his administration.

As Walker launches his bid for a third term and as the polling on the Foxconn project has been lackluster so far, the governor has taken a different tone on the bid to bring a flat-screen plant to Racine County. 

After spending months touting the up to 13,000 jobs at the proposed plant, the GOP governor didn’t mention Foxconn at his 2018 re-election kickoff on Sunday. He kept his distance again on Monday when conservative talk radio host Jerry Bader asked Walker about Sunday’s omission.

“Those 13,000 jobs are no more important than the 13 jobs that we helped the small business (create) in Green Bay or Superior or La Crosse,” Walker told Bader, who is based in Green Bay. “Whether it’s 13 jobs, 130 jobs, 1,300 jobs or 13,000 jobs, they’re all important to us”….

Oh dearie me: Walker flacked those Foxconn job projections incessantly, and now he won’t even mention the deal in his re-election announcement.

A few simple questions:

1. Did Gov. Walker ever truly believe in the 13,000 jobs figure? If he did, why did he do so? If he didn’t, why did he allow the number to be offered without rebuke or correction?

2. If Gov. Walker no longer believes in the 13,000 jobs figure (assuming that he once did), then what’s changed his mind?

3. Does Gov. Walker – or any policymaker – really think that 13, 130, 1,300, or 13,000 are implicitly numbers of equal importance?

If he thinks any number is important, why not stop at 13 jobs created for the 3 billion investment, and call it a day?

4. The obvious question for JS reporter Jason Stein: does Walker downplay Foxconn only because it’s polling poorly? (“A survey last month from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found 34% of registered voters statewide supported the deal and 41% opposed it, with 26% undecided.”) Alternatively, is he also downplaying the deal because he knows – at least now – that it’s not going to live to his own hype?

If the problem is that the deal was always over-talked, what does that say about the competency or honesty of Wisconsin’s governor?

5. Finally, here in Whitewater, we’ve had more than one man push WEDC projects, one after another, for years. So faithfully have some offered apologetics for WEDC and other publicly-funded business deals that Whitewater even has a WEDC 2012 Main Street Best Business Citizen recipient.

Gentlemen, gentlemen: WEDC and Gov. Walker need you now. Will you not help them calculate prospective employees for Foxconn, and afterward help them distinguish between amounts of 13, 130, 1,300, or 13,000?

I’m sure they’d be so very grateful for your assistance.

What a Card! Jean Card’s Comedic Claim That Trump Will Rein in Crony Capitalism

Jean Card is a weekly blogger at U.S. News & World Report (yes, it’s still in publication), former speechwriter for the secretaries of Labor (2001-03) and Treasury (2004-06) in the Bush Administration, and owner of Jean Card Ink, where she is “a writer and communications consultant with a proven track record of translating public policy jargon and government-speak into compelling, persuasive English” with the reassuring company tagline that this is important “Because Words Matter.”

She’s also quite the comedienne, as one can easily discern from her latest post, Will Donald Trump Rein in Crony Capitalism and Let Small Business Flourish? (The subtitle’s even more amusing: “President-elect Donald Trump has crony capitalists sweating and small businesses cheering.”)

In fact, Trump’s economics involves a contradictory (and at bottom) ineffectual mix of badgering and then bribing of large corporations to do what he selfishly wants. John Tamny has it right in Carrier Corp.: Donald Trump Potentially Destroys Millions Of Jobs To ‘Save’ 800:

what’s so shameful about some of the support on the right for Trump’s alleged ‘coup’, Trump’s actions vis-à-vis Carrier sent a strong signal that the U.S. will no longer be as hospitable a locale to the very investors who create all jobs. As Trump so obnoxiously and chillingly put it, “Companies are not going to leave the U.S. anymore without consequences. Leaving the country is going to be very, very difficult.” Where is the outrage? Trump didn’t signal help on the way as much as he signaled retaliation against the companies that don’t do as he wishes….

Funnier still is Card’s contention that Trump will help business by rejecting crony capitalism.  Far from rejecting favors for his friends, he’s gone one better: he can use political power to discuss business for himself and his own family rather than mere associates and cronies.  Argentina’s president denies that Trump sought favors for a hotel project in that country, but the Guardian reports that “[Argentine] local media reports have alleged that Trump asked [President] Macri for help over a stalled construction permit for a 35-storey project called Trump Office in downtown Buenos Aires. A source told the Guardian that the information came from Macri’s staff.”

Drew Harwell describes Trump’s generally conflicted situation in a story entitled, On the day Trump said he’d clarify his business dealings, his conflicts of interest look thornier than ever:

If Trump gives his children corporate management responsibilities but still partially owns the businesses, he will have a financial stake that could influence his presidential decision-making, former White House ethics advisers said.

Business experts also wonder how Trump could promise “no new deals” for a business that has depended on routine dealmaking — both in large measure, such as signing new real estate partnerships or sealing branding agreements, as well as everyday deals, including hiring employees and refinancing debts.

Some government officials weighed in. Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub, whose agency advises public officials on how to avoid conflicts, wrote in a letter Tuesday to Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) that “a President should conduct himself ‘as if’ he were bound by” financial conflict-of-interest laws. “Transferring operational control of a company to one’s children would not constitute the establishment of a qualified blind trust, nor would it eliminate conflicts of interest,” Shaub wrote.

Card wants to position Trump as someone who badgers big companies (“Translation: the cronies are sweating”), but with his approval Indiana targeted seven million for Carrier, Boeing gave a million to Trump’s inaugural committee after being attacked on Twitter, and Trump’s telegraphed-a-day-in-advance attack on Lockheed was no surprise to hedge fund managers.

Sweating?  No, they’re cashing in and ponying up for more opportunities.

Oddest of all is Card’s contention that small businesses are hopeful about Trump. She cites a National Federation of Independent Business’ optimism index, without telling readers that (1) the survey is self-selected (it’s only from among NFIB members), (2) the NFIB membership is only a fraction (about 1.1%) of all small businesses in the U.S., (3) the NFIB was the principal plaintiff in a losing case at the U.S. Supreme Court case against the Obama Administration, and – wait for it – (4) Card doesn’t disclose in her post or her US N&WR bio that she was Vice President of Media & Communications for the NFIB from 2010-2014.

Former speech writer, former communications flack, and consultant?

Oh, no, dear readers – it’s a comedy act that Jean Card has going.

Who Runs the Economy?

Consider this Twitter exchange between liberty-oriented Republican Justin Amash and a Trump supporter, over the suitability of Trump’s cabinet appointments:

The Trump supporter thinks that the credentials of a cabinet nominee justify the appointment; Rep. Amash rightly sees that credentials do not define the scope of legitimate state action.

Trump’s Carrier Deal (Update): Fewer Longterm Jobs

Sometimes, a state-cajoled, anti-market confidence game unravels quickly, revealing the fraud that it is. Trump’s Carrier deal is one of those occasions.

Three days ago, the news was that Trump’s Carrier deal was worth hundreds fewer jobs than he’d proudly boasted. (See, Trump’s Carrier Deal: Fewer Saved Jobs With Each Passing Day: ““We found out today that more jobs are leaving than what we originally thought,” Bray said. “It seemed like since Thursday, it was 1,100 then it was maybe 900 and then now we’re at 700. So I’m hoping it doesn’t go any lower than that.”)

Now, only half a week later, one learns that of this smaller number of saved jobs, some will be lost through automation:

But that has a big down side for some of the workers in Indianapolis.

Most of that money will be invested in automation said Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies, Carrier’s corporate parent. And that automation will replace some of the jobs that were just saved.

“We’re going to…automate to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive,” he said on an interview on CNBC earlier this week. “Is it as cheap as moving to Mexico with lower cost labor? No. But we will make that plant competitive just because we’ll make the capital investments there. But what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs.”

Via Carrier to ultimately cut some of jobs Trump saved.

For broad economic policy, there’s the prosperity that comes from free markets in capital, labor, and goods, and then there’s…everything else (including targeted breaks underlying exaggerated, misrepresented results).