Photo by Saiyna Bashir, The Capital Times

President Trump again knocked Harley-Davidson this morning after the company announced plans to shift some production overseas, accusing the company of using tariffs “as an excuse” and blasting the Milwaukee icon for quitting.

He also threatened to tax the company “like never before.”

Harley-Davidson announced the move yesterday in response to retaliatory tariffs from the European Union after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on foreign products such as aluminum and steel. Yesterday, Trump tweeted the company had waved “the White Flag.”

“A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never!” Trump wrote this morning. “Their employees and customers are already very angry at them. If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end – they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!”

In March 2017, Harley-Davidson announced plans to build a Thailand factory to serve the southeast Asia market and avoid that country’s up to 60 percent tariff on imported motorcycles. The company already has plants in India and Brazil.

In January, before the tariffs were imposed, the company announced it would move ahead with plans to close a Kansas City factory, cutting 800 jobs there, and moving the work to its facility in York, Pa., adding 400 jobs there. The company has said there’s no connection between the Kansas City move and opening the Thailand plant, though Harley-Davidson unions have questioned that.

Despite the company’s past statements, Trump also wrote Harley-Davidson was moving “much of their plant operations in Kansas City to Thailand” long before the tariffs were announced and the company was “just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse.”

Trump added he earlier chided company officials during a White House visit about tariffs in other countries being too high, mentioning India.

“Companies are now coming back to America,” Trump wrote. “Harley must know that they won’t be able to sell back into U.S. without paying a big tax!”

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steinke, R-Kaukauna, defended Harley-Davidson this morning.

“What Harley Davidson is doing is an absolutely predictable response to what the President has done, and other countries’ response to it,” he wrote on Twitter. “Business decisions are made with the long term sustainability of the business in mind.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said the manufacturer’s announcement confirms his “concerns and is a far too predictable outcome of policies that give companies like Harley-Davidson incentives to make their products elsewhere.

And U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, tweeted, “I support better trade deals, not trade wars. Tariffs against our trading partners in Europe do not fix our trade problems, and President Trump’s haphazard approach on tariffs with our allies will hurt Wisconsin’s manufacturing and agriculture economy.”

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