From the sound of things, the chairman of an electronics firm, who said Trump’s tariffs are “killing us” and feels “so betrayed” (The Hill), has moved from supporting Trump in the 2016 election to rethinking that support as he also considers moving his company’s production out of the U.S. in order to get out from tariffs that are putting the company at risk of failure. Pat LeBlanc, the chairman of EBW Electronics, which has been based in Michigan throughout its existence, is now considering moving production to Mexico or Canada, as his company is facing greatly increased costs as the result of Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products.
Components such as transistors, resistors, and capacitors that EBW Electronics uses to make its products have all become much more expensive as a result of the tariffs. LeBlanc said he expects the company’s profits to be slashed in half in 2019 as a result of the resultant increase to their costs and complained that the tariffs, which Trump intends to use to punish China are instead punishing U.S. manufacturers, saying, according to The Hill, “The tariffs are designed to hurt China, but they are being paid by American companies”, that there is “no intelligence” to the way the tariffs have been imposed and that, “I just feel so betrayed. If we fail because the company is being harmed by the government, that just makes me sick.” According to The Hill:
A supporter of President Trump is considering moving his company’s production headquarters to Mexico in an effort to avoid Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports, according to The New York Times. Pat LeBlanc, the chairman of EBW Electronics, voted for Trump in 2016 but told the Times that the tariffs are “killing us.”…EBW Electronics has suffered from those tariffs because of higher costs for components such as transistors, resistors and capacitors, the Times reported. The company is currently based on Michigan, where it has been throughout its existence, but EBW President Cory Steeby said Trump’s tariffs incentivize companies to leave the U.S. “It’s a tax that comes right off the bottom line,” Steeby said. “It totally incentivizes you to move out of the United States and build either in Canada or Mexico. These are active conversations right now.” EBW has filed for exemptions from the tariffs but has not yet received a response from the federal government, according to the Times.
Somehow one imagines that other Trump supporters are similarly finding themselves with a feeling of betrayal as President Trump’s tariffs and other economic policies make things more expensive for U.S. manufacturers (and therefore consumers) and shrink export markets for U.S. manufacturers and farmers. EBW Electronics is hardly the only company to consider moving some or all of its production outside of the U.S. as the result of Trump’s economic policies, including his tariffs, the exact opposite of what Trump has said his policies are intended to accomplish, namely bringing more production back to the U.S. A widely reported example of this is Harley-Davidson, which, due to steel tariffs and the increased costs they face as a result, has decided to move some of its production outside the U.S. as a matter of financial survival, incurring Trump’s wrath as a result.
It does not appear as if LeBlanc said he no longer supports Trump, but feelings of betrayal, that tariffs are killing the company, and concerns that his company might fail as the result of the government’s policies suggest that his support is certainly wavering, if not lost. Somehow there is a swath of Trump’s base of supporters that seems to disregard all harmful effects and maintain a blanket support of Trump no matter what he says or does, but LeBlanc’s comments suggest he may have changed his mind based on his and his company’s experiences.