On Tuesday, Amazon announced that it would split its much-ballyhooed HQ2 between two cities: New York and Crystal City, an area just outside Washington, D.C. New York is obviously heavy Democratic territory; the headquarters will be located in Queens, for whom the congressperson is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And Northern Virginia is a similarly Democratic area.
So, what goodies did Democrats give Jeff Bezos and Amazon for the privilege of hosting their new headquarters? According to Jim Geraghty of National Review, the state of Virginia will give Amazon some $573 million to produce some 25,000 jobs, and Arlington will give Amazon $23 million over 15 years. As Geraghty points out, “Arlington is raising taxes in order to pay Amazon to locate there.” Meanwhile, New York opened its goodie bag as well, with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio grinning through the announcement that the state would give Amazon some $2 billion in tax credits and other incentives. They will receive direct incentives of $1.525 billion for creating 25,000 jobs — an average of $61,000 per job created. As The New York Times reports:
The state also offered a capital grant to the company that could total as much as $500 million that Amazon can use to build new offices. It will also apply for additional incentives through existing city programs available to any company, Amazon said. Tax experts said those programs, for hiring workers in boroughs outside Manhattan and for commercial development, could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Both New York and Washington, D.C. can also expect rising housing prices, strained public services, and additional spent tax dollars on Amazon.
So, it turns out that crony capitalism is alive and well in Democratic areas like New York and Washington, D.C. This used to be called corruption. Now it’s just “drawing business.” It’s rather hilarious that the same politicians who recognize that they need to create special incentives to draw businesses from foreign climes refuse to acknowledge that the regulations and taxes they place on their own homegrown businesses drive those businesses away. But economic liberals have never been known for the consistency of their viewpoint.
All of this drove Ocasio-Cortez to tweet about her opposition to crony capitalism:
This prompted right-wingers to claim Ocasio-Cortez as one of their own. But as Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner points out, this is nonsense: Ocasio-Cortez is fine with crony capitalism so long as she gets to pick the big winners. Her website explicitly calls for “the electrification of vehicles, sustainable home heating, distributed rooftop solar generation, and the conversion of the power grid to zero-emissions energy sources.” That can only be attempted through massive subsidies and taxes.
This is the dirty little secret about crony capitalism: democratic socialists love it, because crony capitalism is just another form of top-down economics in which the government chooses winners and losers. But it’s bad business for taxpayers no matter how you slice it.