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MORE BAD NEWS ABOUT CORPORATE WELFARE: New York Times features CoMo examples

The skyrocketing cost of $80 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies

COLUMBIA, 12/5/12 (Beat Byte) --
As Congress and the President fight over a national fiscal cliff, a comprehensive New York Times series that started this week claims thousands of U.S. communities plunge over regional fiscal cliffs every year, spending some $80 billion annually in taxpayer incentives designed to woo large corporations and "create jobs."

In the throes of incentive fever for at least five years, Columbia and Boone County are presently struggling with a public angry over TIFs, EEZs, and other poorly-vetted programs that similarly benefit a chosen few at the expense of everyone else.

The NY Times series includes hundreds of examples in Missouri, where enterprise zones, tax credits, loan guarantees and other so-called "corporate welfare" have shifted tax burdens to individuals, while taking much-needed funding from schools, libraries, police, and other public services. A searchable database displays several well-known Columbia firms, including IBM, which received $32 million; Veterans United Home Loans ($6.1 million); and CarFax ($1.4 million).

The series raises an important question: Why hike taxes on individuals making over $250K/year, a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the savings that might be had by ending regional corporate welfare -- nearly $1 trillion in ten years?  This 2012 Forbes article suggests as much. 

Excerpts from the NY Times series on the high cost of regional corporate welfare:

A Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.
 
The cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created.
 
Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.
 
A portrait arises of mayors and governors who are desperate to create jobs, outmatched by multinational corporations and short on tools to fact-check what companies tell them. Many of the officials said they feared that companies would move jobs overseas if they did not get subsidies in the United States.
 
Over the years, corporations have increasingly exploited that fear, creating a high-stakes bazaar where they pit local officials against one another to get the most lucrative packages. States compete with other states, cities compete with surrounding suburbs, and even small towns have entered the race with the goal of defeating their neighbors.

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See also video entitled: Border War: Kansas City


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