Why Obama’s bond rules won’t stop stadium subsidies, and what he could do that would

If you were wanting more explanation of why President Obama’s plan to eliminate tax-exempt bonds for stadium projects won’t be close to enough to end stadium subsidies entirely, beyond what I wrote here on Tuesday, you’re welcome to read my longer piece at Vice Sports yesterday, which explains not just why … that thing I just wrote earlier in this sentence, but what options Washington has that could actually shut down taxpayer stadium giveaways. (No, I’m not going to tell you here, that would be a spoiler. Go click on it. Really, now. Please?)

13 comments on “Why Obama’s bond rules won’t stop stadium subsidies, and what he could do that would

  1. That old proposal is Mercedes Marxism (or is it Lear Jet Liberalism nowadays?) in a nutshell. It’s all about elites not wanting to allow anyone to compete with them and threaten their precious status/wealth/etc. It’s been happening for centuries and it’ll surely be attempted for centuries more.

  2. I can’t wait to hear how taxing corporate subsidies is elitist, Ben. Do tell.

  3. It is elitist because what you will see is Government picking and choosing industries based on politics and campaign contributions. A perfect example: Hollywood is “Good” and Oil Companies are “Evil”. Think about it: The entertainment industry gets huge tax breaks even though their output in both quantity and quality has decreased. Is Warner Brothers any better or worse than the Yankees? Sony than the Atlanta Falcons? I do not think so.

  4. This says a lot about the health of our democracy when we cannot even successfully annihilate the blatant and entrenched corruption described here.

  5. David, I seriously doubt the entertainment industry gets as high a tax break and subsidies as the sports industry. Another thing I have noticed is entertainment venues are used more often by the public instead of just sitting vacant. I think there have been studies that imply the entertainment industry is more available and more supported by everyday Americans who are not expected to shell out enormous amounts of cash for entertainment, unlike many sports tickets. On second thought, there are some pricey show tickets.

  6. Actually, the film production industry alone gets about as much subsidies as sports leagues do. And with about as equally bad a return on investment:


  7. “…what you will see is Government picking and choosing industries based on politics and campaign contributions.”

    You know, like what we have now with the current system of subsidies.

    It’s a weird world when folks claim that attempts at killing subsidies – all of which harm competition – are somehow anti-competition. (And I’ll hold my tongue about people who use the “e-word” as a pejorative.)

  8. Interesting LA Times article you flagged on the film industry. I have read about these subisidies before, and it is no doubt another scheme. However, at least the states and cities do not appear to be investing quite as much in humongous structures for non-sports entertainment. Many of the sports dedicated structures tie up valuable real estate and sit empty most of the year. That said, I am aware that cities, counties and states are investing in arts centers as well as golf courses and stadiums.

  9. Essentially, the proposed law is about politicians from prosperous states/regions trying to prevent less prosperous states from competing with them. (And Mercedes Marxists/Lear Jet Liberals are all about enacting laws that “help” poor people at the price of making it less likely that those poor people will compete with them for elite status and/or wealth.)

  10. And in case I wasn’t clear, tax breaks are a way that cities/states can attempt (attempt, meaning “not successful 100% of the time and possibly showing negative results if one calculates unscientific averages”) to draw productive businesses that can elevate the quality of life (economic, social or whatever) for the locals. If those tax breaks are banned, then the cities/states that already have those productive businesses are sheltered from competition.

  11. I was right, that was worth waiting for.

    Ben, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, you are aware that cities/states can compete for businesses by other means — a well-educated workforce, highway bridges that don’t fall down — than handing out wads of cash? For that matter, there was nothing in the Minge bill that would have prevented local governments from competing against each other by lowering business tax rates, say, across the board, if that’s what floats your boat. It’s only special subsidies to individual businesses that other businesses can’t get that would be subject to a federal tax.

  12. And I’d like to see some evidence that those oh-so-devious “prosperous states/regions” aren’t as least as likely to use pick-and-choose subsidies to keep businesses from moving to less prosperous areas that would otherwise be more lucrative for reasons like lower wages.