When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote an op-ed in November defending the decision to offer Amazon $2.8 billion in incentives to build their second headquarters in Long Island City, there was an interesting condemnation you don’t often see.
“The extreme conservatives and the socialists both now vehemently oppose incentives for Amazon,” Cuomo wrote.
Of course, “extreme conservatives” and “socialists” are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum, so what was it about the deal that made it so unappealing on both sides of the fence? It comes down to the incentives that were being offered and the inherent “quick fix” mentality of politicians near the center of the ideological spectrum.
Where conservatives and socialists split on this issue is in how the money should have been used, but both extreme sides agree that using it as an incentive for a company like Amazon is simply lazy governance. Fiscal conservatives understand that in a city like New York City, there’s less of a need for big companies to come in and a much bigger need to plant small businesses throughout. Crowded cities that already have multi-billion dollar corporations get much less benefit from another multi-billion dollar corporation setting up shop than they would from a similar infusion of small businesses. From a fiscally conservative perspective, it’s better to use incentives to bring 250 companies that employ 100 people each than one company that employs 25,000.
Smaller cities without infrastructure or housing issues are the opposite. It makes sense to try to get an Amazon to become a central hub to attract other businesses. These smaller cities do not have to suffer through the same problems a city like NYC has to contend with when there’s such a massive infusion into an already-crowded housing market and an already-crumbling infrastructure.
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez skips a few steps when she says the money for Amazon could be used to fix other problems already facing New Yorkers, but technically speaking she’s correct. If New York utilized incentives to bring in smaller companies that would generate more tax dollars in the long run, her programs could be initiated as a result if properly earmarked. That’s not to say I agree with all of the programs she’s referring to and the money “saved” from the collapsing Amazon deal couldn’t be used directly for them, but combined with conservative fiscal principles and a focus on small businesses, her ideas are doable.
Conservatives balked when the deal was announced. Now, suddenly, many of the same conservatives are laughing at Ocasio-Cortez for being the catalyst that made the deal go away. This is disingenuous. We can debate with her the semantics of how the incentives should be used, but let’s not switch sides and call the deal a winner when we were universally calling it a loser three months ago.
As always, conservatives should stay consistent and not do as the leftists do by picking a side against a politician for the sake of that politician. Conservatives were complaining about the Amazon deal well before AOC became the face of the opposition.
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