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Wealthfare for Boeing?

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Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Here we go again:

Pennsylvania officials will forward by Tuesday their proposed package of “incentives” — either pledges of your money or pledges of tax breaks that will increase your proportionate share of the tax burden — to lure aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing to the Keystone State to build its new super-duper 777X jetliner.

Boeing's “revenue forecast” for 2013 is $86 billion.

“Anytime there is an opportunity to bring new business investment and jobs to Pennsylvania, Gov. Corbett is engaged and ready to tout the commonwealth's location, manufacturing heritage and dedicated skilled workers,” said Steve Kratz, spokesman for Mr. Corbett's re-election campaign, er, state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

There's even talk of offering up a location at Pittsburgh International Airport, a shell of its former self since heavily subsidized US Airways shafted Allegheny County, for what, by any measure, would be a massive endeavor.

Boeing has been looking for more inviting climes since the Amalgamated Royal Order of Union Luddites, Local 1, rejected contract concessions to keep the work in Washington state and Oregon.

To give you an idea of what kind of public-purse shellacking we're talking about here, Missouri, one of a dozen states expected to kneel at the altar of corporate wealthfare this week, is ready to pony up an incentives package of $1.74 billion over 20 years.

Given what the Corbett administration is prepared to offer Shell to locate an ethylene “cracker” plant in Beaver County — more than $1 billion in “incentives,” if not the first-born children of the county's populace, over two decades — expect another offer rich with public subsidies for the very flush Boeing.

Never mind the Ghosts of Picking Winners That Turn Out to be Losers Past (in addition to US Airways, add Volkswagen and Sony, to name two).

But more importantly, never mind Article XIII, Section 8, of the Pennsylvania Constitution:

“The credit of the Commonwealth shall not be pledged or loaned to any individual, company, corporation or association nor shall the Commonwealth became a joint owner or stockholder in any company, corporation or association.”

Decades of Pennsylvania leaders — Democrat and Republican, in the executive and legislative branches — repeatedly have turned a blind eye to the state charter, weasel-wording how and why the provision is not applicable to each case. And they rationalize the giveaways by laundering your money through such entities as the accountability-challenged DCED and/or the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), which should be renamed the Capital Redevelopment Assistance Program, or CRAP for short.

Of course, those big honkin' increases in the state gasoline/diesel taxes over the next five years surely will be a selling point for Boeing, don't cha think? And our leaders could save taxpayers every penny of the proposed Boeing “incentives” — and more — by making Pennsylvania a right-to-work state, something that given Boeing's union tribulations, certainly would be worth its weight in hundreds of brand new 777Xs.

Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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