The Allure of Corporate Welfare

Both parties seem to agree that handing out select subsidies and tax breaks is good politics

(Editor’s note: The following is taken from a letter written to supporters of the Mackinac Center.)

The governor who once called corporate welfare “the heroin drip of state government” now seems ready to countenance a full-scale opioid crisis of sweetheart deals for big companies.

The popular Pure Michigan advertising campaign is the lipstick on the corporate welfare pig, but the pig itself is embodied in new legislation that would supercharge the kind of deals we had been winding down.

What’s not to like? They don’t work, they aren’t fair, they’re not honest, they’re secretive, they breed corruption, they’re expensive, and they provide political cover for lawmakers to avoid substantive reforms.

What’s to like? Politicians get to say they’re “doing something” about jobs, and well-connected companies get goodies and lower tax bills while everyone else pulls their own weight — plus an extra load to make up for the favored few. Oh, and the Pure Michigan commercials win awards. So we’ve got that going for us.

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The continued attraction of corporate welfare is a failure to limit the powers of government, not a partisan problem. Republicans are as hungry as Democrats to hand out favors.


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