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Noah Smith

Wisconsin’s Deal With Foxconn Was as Bad as They Come

The state offered billions to win a big factory. It will create some jobs, but at a staggering cost for taxpayers.

More than you asked for.

More than you asked for.

Photographer: Thomas Rosenthal/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

Whatever Americans were hoping for when they elected Donald Trump president in 2016, it’s a fair bet that it didn’t include shoveling billions of dollars of American taxpayer money to foreign companies to build white-elephant factories. But it looks as if that is what’s happening in Wisconsin. After Trump suggested that a piece of land in southeastern Wisconsin would be a great place for a factory back in 2017, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn offered to build it.

There was just one catch — the state would have to pay Foxconn a lot of money. About $4.5 billion to be exact. Since the state already has very low tax rates for manufacturers, much of this subsidy will be paid directly in cash rather than as tax credits.