Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam: Picking Winners And Losers ... by gimleteye

One conservative GOP article of faith is that government shouldn't be picking winners and losers. The best market is the one most free of the helping hand of government. Right?

Wrong. Compare the bad treatment of the Florida's film industry, which creates tens of thousands of jobs, to the drooling favor shown to Big Sugar, an industry that picks economic benefits from thin air in one of the poorest regions of the state.

According to a film industry insider, "The state approved $269 million in film tax credits in 2010. That was supposed last six years, but the money ran out almost immediately. One reason is that the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment awarded incentives on a first-come basis, with no consideration of the number of Floridians hired or the merit of the projects. Some money even went to companies that produced video games and commercials." Law makers recently tried to renew incentives.

"We have over 100M people in the film industry in the state of Florida,” Florida Sen. Nancy Detert said during a committee hearing last spring trying to restore incentive cuts. But those efforts failed, largely because the Koch brothers-backed "Americans for Prosperity" lobbied against incentives, calling them a taxpayer subsidy to Hollywood moguls. (In case you haven't noticed, Clint Eastwood is the only Hollywood mogul in the GOP camp. Remember, the empty chair.)

Gov. Rick Scott tried to use the film cuts to leverage his political slush fund, Enterprise Florida. The legislature balked. But when it comes to Big Sugar's explicit and implicit taxpayer subsidies, somehow the GOP drops its nattering hypocrisy about picking winners and losers.

The GOP hates Hollywood for a dozen reasons. It loves Big Sugar for just one: money. The GOP defends Big Sugar like a mother badger guarding its nest.

In Florida, Republican lawmakers routinely defend Big Sugar oligarchs and their privileges -- like shifting the costs of pollution to the backs of taxpayers -- while turning their backs on thousands of jobs in the film industry.

Oh, while we are on the topic: one of the ways Big Sugar helps Congress and the Florida legislature pick winners and losers: its funding of African American politicians to advance the sugar industry's protectionism, supporting in other words the excess consumption of sugar among the minority most harmed by sugar additives in the American diet.

Grover Norquist, Republican anti-tax activist, calls the sugar subsidy, "cronyism in its undiluted, inexcusable majesty". So when you hear Republican politicians say they oppose government picking winners and losers like the film industry, know whose pocket they are picking. Yours.

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