Last week, Amazon walked away from a nearly $3 billion package in state and local tax incentives to build a sought after HQ2 in New York City – in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City. The agreement, announced last Fall, would have brought 25,000 good paying jobs to the area and generated an estimated $27 billion in tax revenues. The tax incentives did not kick in until Amazon met specified constructions an job creation targets.
Polls consistently showed strong public support for the Amazon HQ2 deal – with support strongest among African-Americans and Latinos.
None of that mattered to progressive-Left politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who waged a vocal campaign against Amazon since the deal was announced last Fall. They ultimately succeeded in driving away the HQ2 project and the thousands of high-paying jobs that went with it.
Amazon stated that “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”
Instead, Amazon will takes those jobs to locales with business-friendly leadership and laws.
Ocasio-Cortez – whose district abuts the now-vanished HQ2 site – was ecstatic at the news:
Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world. https://t.co/nyvm5vtH9k
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 14, 2019
What’s the loss of 25,000 good jobs in comparison to the opportunity to do some SJW chest-thumping?
Companies have choices where to invest their capital, and demonization by progressive-Left politicians tends to drive that investment and job creation to more welcoming climes.
The parallels with Anaheim are hard to miss. Anaheim’s version of AOC, Councilman Jose F. Moreno, uses Disney as a political pinata, accusing it of creating poverty and fleecing taxpayers. He regularly excoriate the county’s largest employer and taxpayer, even trying to paint city the 1996 agreement that created the Anaheim Resort – a visionary plan which has generated tax revenues for Anaheim far in excess of projections – as a raw deal for the city.
Last summer, when Disney need approval of very minor site adjustment to its planned luxury hotel project at Downtown Disney, the Tait-Moreno majority used it as an opportunity to kill the accompanying TOT rebate agreement.
Disney responded by cancelling the $700 million, 700-room project – which would have created 5,050 temporary jobs, 3,434 permanent jobs and $750 million in tax revenue for the city over 40 years. The decision confounded critics who claimed Disney would “build the hotel anyway” – forgetting that companies have choices where to invest their capital – and friendly business environments tend to win out.
Last November, Moreno and UNITE-HERE Local 11 successfully pushed Measure L – which ultimately imposes a highest-in-the-nation minimum wage hike on 4-Diamond hotel projects that have tax incentive agreements with the city. Like the Amazon deal, those tax incentives do not kick in until the hotels are open for business, and would ultimately generate enormous tax revenues for the city.
As a result, two planned 4-Diamond hotel projects in the Resort will almost certainly never be built – costing Anaheim thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in future tax revenues.
In the case of Measure L, the Resort unions and Moreno were essentially using the ballot box to unilaterally re-negotiate city agreements – against the will of the other parties to those contracts. That’s how banana republics operate, and doesn’t inspire confidence in those contemplating a major economic development projects in the city.
That perception is further compounded when a sitting Anaheim City Councilman is arrested in an illegal action to disrupt the city’s biggest trade show as part of a ham-handed union ploy to leverage a major Resort business.
It’s a consistent theme: among the progressive-Left, ideological rigidity and hostility to business override common sense policies that foster job creation and growing tax revenues to fund public services. The greatest irony is support for such policies is often greatest among minorities and workers – the same people whom progressives like AOC and Moreno profess to champion. Killing the Amazon deal or 4-Diamond hotels in the Resort enables them to carve a notch in their ideological belts, but its working people who are left holding the bag – and empty bag of lost jobs.