Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Save Taxpayers $80 Billion a Year

Every year, state and local governments hand out $80 billion worth of subsidies to large corporations.  Is this where you want YOUR tax dollars going?

As this column by Neal Peirce says:  “It should be called for what it is: corporate grand larceny, aimed at your tax dollars, your public services and mine.”

These taxpayer handouts consist of tax credits and exemptions, cash grants, property tax abatements, and free buildings, among other giveaways.

These corporate VIPs probably aren’t the same “47-percenters” that Mitt Romney was ranting about, but they’re draining the public treasury just the same.  The column continues:

“And what are the companies providing in return? Promises, promises. They assure some city, county or state that with a payout from the public treasury, they’ll move their office or plant into the ‘lucky’ jurisdiction. Or alternatively, they won’t desert a facility that’s already there.”

These corporate welfare cheats include manufacturing companies, large banks, fossil fuel conglomerates, tech and entertainment companies and big box stores.  Stadiums — which the author doesn’t mention — have always been the most blatant example of this, IMHO.  A few multi-millionaire team owners will con gazillions of tax dollars out of a city in return for an even bigger glitzier stadium.  They always have statistics showing how many megabazillions of dollars will be brought into the city by sports fans, without mentioning the megabazillions of dollars that the city will have to spend on overtime pay for police and other first responders, and the lost productivity caused by monster traffic jams before, during and after each game.

Neal Peirce’s column is based partly on a New York Times investigation by Louise Story, and partly on the work of Good Jobs First.  The founder of Good Jobs First, Greg LeRoy, wrote a book in 2005 titled “The Great American Jobs Scam.”

Another staff member of Good Jobs First — Phil Mattera — has created a site called Subsidy Tracker:  “Discover Where Corporations Are Getting Taxpayer Handouts Across the United States.”

Good Jobs First and Subsidy Tracker are both worth bookmarking.  With federal and state lawmakers getting ready to cut and slice and dice in the name of deficit reduction, these corporate giveaways need to be on the chopping block.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read Dave Zirin's last book "Bad Sports how owners ruin the game" and he give three examples of Social Welfare to Billionaires.

He talks about how the then Billionaire owner of the Minn Twins, one of the richest men in the Country, instead of paying for it himself, got Tim Pawlenty to get the state to finance it, WITHOUT raising any taxes. As a result Minnesota's education and infrastructure funding is suffering.

He also talks about how the whole state of Texas not only financed the Billion dollar stadium for the Dallas Cowboys, but the Cowboys still get utility breaks as well as control of concessions and parking. You have to wonder what the Mavericks, Rangers, Astros, and Texans are thinking.

Study after Study shows the local Government is always the loser in this kind of deal. Santa Clara, California will still lose it's shirt but not as bad as the 49ers are putting up part of the cost of their new stadium (which they can probably write off) fortunately the NFL needs a balance in the west, as there are plenty more Southern and Midwestern cities who are more then ready to go to the poor house to get those teams.

This will be some help to Oakland and LA

Art Modell then owner of the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens called his fellow owners "Republicans who vote Socialist!"

Erik

December 17, 2012 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

Molly Ivins devoted a couple of eye-opening chapters in her book about George W. Bush to this. As co-owner of a sports team, he and his partners fleeced the citizens of a county (IIRC, the state too) to build a stadium, to keep the team. I don't recall all the details, but I know Bush and his cronies came out flush, while taxpayers got soaked.

"So far, sadly, it’s tough to see a long-term solution short of a federally imposed restraint under the interstate commerce power of the Constitution."

Yes. Federal law should require any such arrangements be entered into as binding written contracts whose terms must be made public at least 90 days before the deal is consummated. During that time the public would have a chance to express approval, concerns or disapproval to the appropriate local, county and/or state officials. Hefty fines should be imposed on companies that breach contract terms.

December 17, 2012 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

I like my sports, but if towns told these owners to fine, up and move, and the new places said fine, pay your own damn way, we'd get at least a little bit less corporate welfare. Next, we should talk about flying bacon.

December 18, 2012 at 5:58 AM  
Blogger Jerry Critter said...

There is a very good reason why LA does not have an NFL team. They have told the NFL to build your own damn stadium...although that sentiment seems to be changing.

December 18, 2012 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Life As I Know It Now said...

These corporate VIPs probably aren’t the same “47-percenters” that Mitt Romney was ranting about, but they’re draining the public treasury just the same.

Corporate welfare is a bigger drain on the American economy than any social welfare programs ever dared to be. And the stadiums are very bad. I don't even like sports so why are my tax dollars going to fund the damn things!

December 18, 2012 at 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jerry,

As far as I know that Stadium in LA was built with NFL, State, and Local Funds to attract somebody. The Raiders had talked about taking it, but now the NFL has talked about a loan to Oakland for a new Stadium (caveat emptor). Funny the California legislators put in a rider NOT to invite the San Diego Chargers to move to the new stadium (can't the Chargers just say no?)

They are somewhat lucky that they need a balance in the West as West Coast cities have better things to do then go broke over getting a team.

I would like to know what's wrong with the stadium in Anaheim which was still quite new when the Rams bolted to St. Louis?


Erik

December 18, 2012 at 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read David Cay Johnston's last three books.

The best on Corporate Welfare

Erik

December 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

Jerry, good for L.A. If the city./county does buckle, it will be purely a vanity thing, IMO. It's not like L.A. is lacking for plenty of businesses, tourist attractions, entertainment venues and sports at all levels. The NFL is no less a big-money corporate bully than Exxon-Mobile and Walmart.

December 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: Thanks for those examples. I only knew about the examples from the news in Seattle and San Francisco. Also, when GW Bush owned the Texas Rangers, he made heavy use of eminent domain to acquire property for their new stadium. Years later he'd be in the White House pontificating about "property rights."

"Republicans who vote socialist," good description, and much more common than we know.

SW: Maybe it was a Molly Ivins column where I read that (I haven't read any of her books), about Dumbya fleecing the taxpayers and stealing private property left and right to build his team's new stadium.

And I think it's time to start using the federal government's interstate commerce powers to put a stop this corporate extortion. Conservatives will scream bloody murder, but it might be necessary.

Randal: Bring on the flying bacon.

Jerry: I hope the LA Powers That Be will stick to their guns.

Life: You're probably right; I think corporate welfare is a bigger drain than all those mythical Cadillac-driving welfare mothers with twelve kids, or those strapping able-bodied males who use food stamps to pay for their steak and whiskey.

December 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM  

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