Sunday, July 22, 2018

Trump Tariffs Slam Pence's Hometown

Karma can seemingly be a bitch.  A case in point is Mike Pence's shameless self-prostitution to Donald Trump and hypocrisy-filled pretense of being a godly Christian while serving a man who is the antithesis of the Gospel message.  Now, the Trump tariffs - put in place in a fit of bullying rage and effort to appear the "tough guy" - are slamming Pence's hometown in Indiana. One can feel only so much pity for the residents since their state supported Pence for governor (although many believe he could not have won re-election, hence his prostitution to Trump) and voted for the Trump/Pence ticket. Embracing racism and religious extremism do, in my view, need to carry a severe price.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the economic pain occurring in Pence's hometown - pain that will likely worsen if Der Trumpenführer puts additional tariffs in place.  Here are excerpts:
 One company and one family loom large over this city, intertwined for decades. Cummins Inc. is the biggest employer in Columbus, built into a $20 billon heavy equipment manufacturer with the help of Mike Pence, who as governor passed pro-business tax cuts and made trade visits to China on its behalf.
 Pence’s older brother Edward joined Cummins after graduating from college and worked there for four decades, running one of its most lucrative engine plants before retiring last December. A second brother, Greg, is running for the 6th congressional district seat and visited Cummins during a recent campaign stop.
But the alliance of the past is being threatened by the administration Mike Pence now serves, as President Trump’s trade war with multiple nations clobbers Cummins and other local companies.
According to the Brookings Institution, the Columbus area is the most export-reliant region in the country, with just over half of its economic output linked to foreign purchases. “I’m very worried,” said Tom Linebarger, the chief executive of Cummins, who met with President Trump over dinner at the White House in January in a bid to dissuade him from introducing steel and aluminum tariffs or tearing up free trade agreements. Linebarger, 55, warns of job losses ahead because thousands of jobs at Cummins and elsewhere in the area depend on trade. “We will do everything we can to mitigate . . . the impact to jobs,” he said. “It’s very clear, though, that we’re not going to be able to mitigate everything.”
Pence’s hometown oozes internationalism: 40 foreign companies have a presence, more than half of them Japanese engines and auto-parts plants, employing almost 10,000 people. The area’s schools collectively speak 51 languages. The city ranks second in the nation in the per capita percentage of H-1B visas for foreign workers.
Now the aggressive pursuit of foreign trade that made this city a recession-busting economic miracle has made it decidedly vulnerable, with businesses already canceling projects and mulling the depth of job losses. . . . Cummins alone has 25,000 different suppliers and also its own chain of distribution, both of them largely international. Its U.S. base is bolstered by operations in the United Kingdom, China and India.
Linebarger said the president’s trade war hits the company in two ways, affecting both its incoming parts, which will be subject to tariffs, and its own products, on which retaliatory penalties will be assessed by countries targeted by Trump.
[T]he most vulnerable of the company’s factories: the high-horsepower engine plant in Seymour, outside Columbus, which employs 1,000 people. Its biggest export is a 95-liter engine, which is the size of a car and can power hospitals, tanks and football stadiums. It is so specialized that only 10 can be made per day. Of these, eight will be sold abroad.
“We almost put the factory in India. We evaluated the U.K. and China too. If we’d seen trade barriers at that point, we’d definitely have made a different decision,” says Linebarger.
Other local businesses are seeing the effects as well. Harold Force, 67, has run a construction company founded by his father since 1980, which currently employs 250 people. Now he is coping with rising prices on items he needs for contracts signed in less expensive days before the trade war. Already, he said, he has had to cancel plans to expand his workforce.
“I think this is a much bigger deal than people think. When it started, it was shock. I thought, ‘Is this really happening?’ Then one of our biggest projects in recent times was canceled because of steel prices,” he said.
The city’s foreign companies are likewise worried. Jon Volz of Sunright America Inc., a Japanese-owned company in Columbus which supplies U.S. Toyota plants with millions of bolts and fasteners, said the materials required to make their parts are only available in Japan.
The Democrat running against Greg Pence has sought to make trade an issue in the campaign. Jeannine Lake, 51, a Christian newspaper publisher, said the economy was the only issue that mattered. “Tariffs are not just hitting people in places like Columbus, it’s also farms which make soy beans and corn,” she said. Pence has run a muted campaign, refusing to attend candidate debates and declining to release a public schedule. His most public comments so far came when he defended himself after it was revealed that his gas station company’s bankruptcy had cost taxpayers $20 million in contamination costs.
Across Columbus, workers are expecting the worst. “I’m very Republican, but I feel the current strategy is opinion-based, not data-based,” said Chris Tiemeier, 38, whose grandfather was also a proud Cummins employee and whose wife works at the plant. “The company has changed our town, it’s doubled in size. I’m worried about tariffs.”
Jason Hester of the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corporation has traveled to China for the last nine years to whip up investment. This year, he’s canceled his travel plans.

At the risk of sounding cruel, I hope the pain coming to Columbus is replicated all across the Mid-west, especially in districts that threw the Electoral College vote to Trump/Pence.

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