Share This Page

Wealthfare for Boeing?

| Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:01 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).

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.