Friday’s Hot Take
The Stunning Ouster of Scott Walker Is A Warning To Lawmakers In NYC And Northern Virginia: Amazon Deal Could Spell Swift Backlash
The Governor’s Demise Is A Cautionary Tale About The Costs Of Throwing Away Billions In Corporate Welfare
FALL FROM GRACE
- Scott Walker handily won the Wisconsin governorship in 2010 and quickly earned praise from conservatives for slashing budgets, creating jobs and taking on the establishment. In 2014, Walker won again by 6 percentage points.
- But last year, Walker signed away more than $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies to electronics giant Foxconn for a manufacturing plant, the biggest giveaway in state history.
- The deal drew fervent criticism from voters across the political spectrum – 66 percent said they didn’t think it would help local employers – and this November, Walker was defeated by an opponent who railed against the Foxconn deal and blasted corporate welfare.
Walker’s swift downfall after the Foxconn debacle is a cautionary tale for mayors and governors across the country, but especially for leaders in New York City and Northern Virginia who just signed away billions in taxpayer subsidies for Amazon’s headquarters.
The Foxconn deal was “ridiculous” and will increase the cost of living for the “taxpayers of Wisconsin, their children, and perhaps their grandchildren.”
“‘The deal,’ says Matthew Rothschild, executive director of the good government group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, ‘is a ridiculous way to do economic development. It exposes a lie we’ve been told over and over that the cupboard is bare, that we don’t have enough money for our schools or our roads or our health care.’” (Bruce Murphy, The Verge, “Wisconsin’s $4.1 Billion Foxconn Boondoggle,” 10.29.2018)
The “Foxconn fiasco” is “a particularly egregious example” of corporate welfare, a “zero-sum game.”
“This is a staggering amount of money — about $1,800 per Wisconsin taxpayer — for a factory like this…Estimates that the state could break even on its investment by 2043 are almost certainly overoptimistic.” (Noah Smith, Bloomberg, “Wisconsin’s Deal With Foxconn Was as Bad as They Come,” 11.6.2018)
This deal was “cut to please big business, not Wisconsin.”
“‘The state didn’t have the money to spend in the first place, says Pocan, and if it did he believes it would have been better off encouraging job growth at the grassroots level, spending on retraining people, developing small businesses and fixing infrastructure.’” (Dominic Rushe, The Guardian, “The $4.8bn gamble to lure Foxconn to America,” 7.2.2018)
Walker doled out “a $3 billion taxpayer-funded bribe” to woo Foxconn
“Governor Walker’s giveaway leaves taxpayers on the hook for decades, diverting money that could have been spent on budget-strapped public schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and struggling rural and urban communities — not to mention this deal threatens our water and air through special exclusions to environmental laws.” (David Bowen, Journal Sentinel, “Foxconn offers a bad deal for Wisconsin,” 8.18.18)
THE AMAZON KISS OF DEATH
Amazon’s entire HQ2 process reeked of crony capitalism from the start, and it added insult to injury that the final decision was announced after the election – when voters couldn’t take their anger to the ballot box. Governors Cuomo and Northam have an obligation to level with their respective communities about the potential impact on taxpayers, the cost of housing, small businesses and the local economy at large.
If they don’t, they could get #Walkered.
ABOUT THE FREE & FAIR MARKETS INITIATIVE
The Free & Fair Markets Initiative (FFMI) is a non-profit coalition of businesses, consumer advocacy groups, workers and community activists committed to scrutinizing and highlighting emerging market trends that are stifling competition and innovation, influencing federal and local government spending, putting consumer data in harm’s way and limiting consumer choice. For a list of members, please visit https://freeandfairmarketsinitiative.org/about-us/members/. For more information on the Free & Fair Markets Initiative, please visit https://freeandfairmarketsinitiative.org.