Look out! It’s Republican-on-Republican violence in Cobb County!
A deal for hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to draw the Atlanta Braves north of their downtown home is pitting conservative tea party activists against the elected and civic leaders in the staunch Republican county, with opponents saying the use of public money to help a private business is not what American capitalism should be about…
It’s all “appalling hypocrisy” and “arrogance,” [Atlanta Tea Party leader Debbie] Dooley explained, particularly from the four Republican commissioners who pitch their conservative credentials and champion the idea of a free market. Dooley and other tea partiers typically associate active, expensive government with Democrats, but it was the commission’s lone Democrat who cast the only dissenting vote.
Cheap irony aside, this isn’t actually surprising at all: As Kevin Delaney and Rick Eckstein found in Public Dollars, Private Stadiums, party affiliation has pretty much no correlation with whether local politicians will support a sports subsidy project. When push comes to shove, elected officials of all stripes can turn to “economic development” or “job creation” as justification for these deals, and usually do, for reasons I’ve gone into before. And the Cobb Tea Party (which is a branch of Dooley’s Atlanta Tea Party, apparently) has already previously teamed up with the local Sierra Club chapter to oppose the stadium project, so you’d think the “strange bedfellows” angle would be played out by now.
If it’s marginally less cheap irony you want, you may prefer the fact that John Malone, the CEO of Braves corporate owner Liberty Media, sits on the board of the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank that has savaged stadium deals as a waste of public money. (Though, to be fair, Cato also thinks this about early childhood education.) I haven’t yet seen any reporter question Malone about how he reconciles his opposition to government subsidies for business with his request for $300 million in government subsidies for his business, but I’m sure the nation’s journalists will get around to that, as soon as they’re finished watching Cobb County Republican Smackdown.