Pat LeBlanc, the chairman of EBW Electronics, is a Republican who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Two years later, he says he feels “betrayed” and that his factory may have to move to Mexico because of the president’s tariffs, which will likely slice his 2019 profits in half.
“It’s killing us,” he said. “I just feel so betrayed. If we fail because the company is being harmed by the government, that just makes me sick.”
These comments are a striking about-face from remarks LeBlanc made in 2013. At the time, EBW was ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in the Midwest.
“Yeah, we’re adding jobs and we’re growing faster than anyone else,” told The Holland Sentinel at the time. “Getting into LEDs is what really propelled us. And we’re not moving to Mexico.”
Cory Steeby, EBW’s president, says the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports were “a tax that comes right off the bottom line,” and that moving to Mexico appears to be the only way to avoid them.
“It totally incentivizes you to move out of the United States and build either in Canada or Mexico,” Steeby said. “These are active conversations right now.”
People weren’t exactly sympathetic. The president did campaign on imposing tariffs despite the warnings of countless economists who predicted imposing them would drastically affect U.S. manufacturing plants.
Reminder: Trump regularly promised trade wars and tariffs to his supporters.
Every time I see them pathetically whine about the harm Trump is doing to their businesses, I just laugh. https://t.co/PigBVDKfKO
— Pé Resists (@4everNeverTrump) January 7, 2019
Trump campaigned on imposing tariffs. https://t.co/i2DBXUMewH
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 6, 2019
Step 1: Impose 25% steel tariff on China
Step 2: Domestic steel makers raise price of steel by 25%
Step 3: US factories impose a steel surcharge on their own customers
Step 4: Customers say “no thanks”
Step 5: US factories consider moving to Mexicohttps://t.co/VgiU4EsBzR
— Hal Singer (@HalSinger) January 7, 2019
— Michael Tiknis (@TiknisArts) January 7, 2019
This is kind of bewildering. A Trump supporter feeling "betrayed" by his tariffs. Didn't he explicitly campaign on that? Trump's penchant for #tariffs and #tradewars is one of the few areas where he's remained pretty consistent. #unfortunately https://t.co/QMyFgjbc4f
— Bryan Hickman (@MBryanHickman) January 7, 2019
The president was criticized last week for failing to understand how tariffs operate after he claimed that tariffs have “absolutely hurt China”––his primary target.
Trump says "nobody understands how well our economy is doing," then immediately shows he doesn't get how tariffs work
"Tariffs have absolutely hurt China. Our country is taking in a lot of $ through tariffs…steel dumping tariffs & others"
(Tariffs are taxes paid by importers) pic.twitter.com/QsM6K0H3wW
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 6, 2019
The president remains steadfast in his belief that tariffs are necessary to address the signs of what he believes to be an era of waning American influence on international markets.
In March, shortly before confirming that the U.S. would impose tariffs on aluminum and steel, Trump attracted criticism for claiming that trade wars “are good, and easy to win.”
“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he wrote at the time. “Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018