San Diego The U.S. Chamber of Commerce regularly opposes legislation favoring citizen entitlements that would, theoretically, promote the general welfare. But the chamber and its local affiliates are all for corporate welfare.
Indeed, four years ago, two journalists were concerned that corporate welfare was draining funds from education. In particular, they worried about tax increment financing, or long-term diversion of property taxes to companies investing in an area. The journalists asked the U.S. chamber's top economist whether companies should stop seeking tax breaks from cities and states. That idea, snorted the economist, is "blatantly un-American."
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is determined not to be blatantly un-American. Late last month, the local chamber's board said it is all in favor of the on-again, off-again, on-again $900 million-plus hospitality center in Chula Vista. Specifically, the chamber enthusiastically endorses "the public funding model as proposed."
That means the chamber applauds the $308 million subsidy that will go to Gaylord Entertainment, a Nashville-based company with a frail balance sheet and a history of big losses. Chula Vista, its redevelopment agency, and the San Diego Unified Port District propose to plunk $178 million into infrastructure improvements. Gaylord will pay for $130 million in infrastructure but will get its money back from tax increment financing. "The chamber believes strongly in the Free Enterprise system," explained the board.
Free enterprise? Come now. It's socialization of the risk and privatization of the gain.
If Gaylord's hotel facility is ever built (and don't count on it), it will compete with the taxpayer-financed downtown convention center and the now-rising $348 million Hilton San Diego Convention Center Hotel, which is getting a $46.5 million subsidy.
Let's change the name to Subsi Diego.