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Jewish World Review April 4, 2001 / 11 Nissan, 5761

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports

Bush’s baseball tax fetish -- WHAT is it with some Republican leaders and baseball? When it comes to America’s national pastime, the party of lower taxes and less government leaves its principles in the dust.

The lead GOP pitcher for sports pork is President Bush, who launched a federally-sponsored initiative last week to "revitalize" baseball. He will host kiddie t-ball games on the White House lawn, recruit cabinet officials to help promote the sport, and throw out the first pitch at the Milwaukee Brewers’ new ballpark.

What’s wrong with Bush’s baseball fetish? Many of his supporters will argue that there’s no harm in embracing athletic nostalgia and patriotic symbolism. But there’s nothing romantic about raiding the public purse, which is what modern baseball increasingly is all about. I hate to be a spoilsport, but the president’s latest crusade is a foul play that undermines the credibility of serious fiscal conservatism.

Take Miller Park, the $400 million stadium in Milwaukee where Bush will join baseball commissioner Bud Selig (the Brewers’ former president) this Friday. The Brewers paid for less than one-fourth of the cost of stadium construction, and much of that came from subsidized government loans. Taxpayers voted overwhelmingly against public funding for the Brewers’ new home. But they were forced to pick up the rest of the tab through a sales-tax hike, totaling $300 million, which was imposed upon them in 1995 by the state legislature.

Who championed that tax increase? Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, the Republican welfare reformer who now heads Bush’s Department of Health and Human Services. Thompson played hardball with local lawmakers, including state Sen. George Petak – a Republican who cast the deciding vote that passed the stadium sales-tax hike. Soon after, Petak’s district held an anti-tax revolt. They punished Petak by making him the first and only Wisconsin legislator ever recalled.

Prominent Republican officials from New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to Massachussetts Gov. Paul Celluci to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have joined tax-happy Democrats in drumming up public money to pay for new sports stadiums at nosebleed prices. Economist Raymond J. Keating of the Washington, D.C.-based Small Business Survival Committee estimates the total costs of building big league ballparks at $11.5 billion, with taxpayers picking up about 81% of the tab, or $9.3 billion.

It wasn’t always this way. Keating writes: "Ballparks were once privately financed. Like other businesses, team owners bought the land and erected their own facilities. Before 1953, only one Major League Baseball club played in a government-funded stadium, and 75% of funding for ballparks came from private sources." Since then, only one big league ballpark has been built without taxpayer money, while 19 baseball stadiums were 100% taxpayer-funded. "Given current efforts," Keating predicts, "another $5 billion to $6 billion could be spent in the next few years on big league ballparks, with taxpayers easily on the hook for at least $3.5 billion to $4 billion."

It is bad enough that President Bush will lend his implicit endorsement to such baseball tax thievery when he proudly dons a satin jacket at Miller Park and lounges in a private luxury box built with public money. What’s worse is the continued political dissonance Bush creates every time he speaks of "letting Americans keep more of their own money" and "sending tax dollars back to the people so government can’t spend it."

As co-partner of the Texas Rangers, Bush championed a sales-tax increase and loan package worth $135 million for the construction of a new baseball stadium. Defenders of the deal -- which also gave a quasi-governmental sports authority the power to condemn private land for the new ballpark, shops, and a hotel -- note that local residents approved the tax hike. But support came only after the Rangers threw a tantrum and threatened to leave. Moreover, Bush essentially bribed minorities into voting for the tax increase by campaigning personally at black churches and promising to reward them with racial set-aside construction contracts.

Yuck. With Republicans cheerleading for these crummy corporate welfare pay-offs, who needs big-spending Democrats?

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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01/29/01: Gun shows under fire
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01/22/01: Look who supports AmeriCorps
01/17/01: Some questions about Elaine Chao
01/15/01: What America owes me
01/10/01: Temptation and trash TV
01/05/01: Cop-haters welcome in Hollywood
01/02/01: Ignoring a hate crime in D.C.
12/26/00: Use ultrasound to combat abortion
12/26/00: Pardon Clinton? Just say no!
12/21/00: Smacking down free speech
12/18/00: Brace yourselves for Floridation
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12/11/00: UNICEF's deadly mission
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12/04/00: Downey and the Drug War
11/29/00: Let the sun shine on the Supremes
11/22/00: Peace prize for a murderer?
11/20/00: Baby Boom parents are asleep on the job
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11/10/00: Who cares about election fraud now?
11/08/00: Ms. Houston, you have a problem
11/03/00: The Million Mom Murmur
11/01/00: GOP revolutionaries head for the hills
10/27/00: My impeachment referendum
10/25/00: Gore’s Good Daddy Gambit
10/23/00: Tribulations of a dubious 'tribe'
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10/12/00: Fight the anti-pesticide pests
10/10/00: Moochers at the multiplex
10/05/00: Pay for your own day care
10/02/00: Not every senior demands a handout
09/27/00: Racial hype at the Olympics
09/25/00: Watch the other Washington
09/20/00: Textbook case of media arrogance
09/18/00: New York: Land of medical pork
09/13/00: Voices from the womb
09/11/00: No cure for generational pain
09/08/00: Notes on a West Coast wilding
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08/28/00: There's something about Rudy
08/25/00: A conservative case against Napster
08/22/00: Death Row Marv mocks justice
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08/14/00: "Make-A-Wish" shoots down dreams
08/10/00: Who will stop Bill Lann Lee?
08/07/00: Emily Dickinson's lesson for rude drivers
08/03/00: Leave the slogans behind
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07/28/00: Stop milking The Juice
07/24/00: Silencing Jeff Jacoby
07/21/00: Score another one for TV execs who want to keep us brain-dead
07/17/00: Can somebody say McStupid?
07/12/00: Beware of Ugly Building Syndrome
07/10/00: The miracle of a lead pencil
07/07/00: Partying on the people’s dime
06/29/00: When "Indians" exploit their own
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06/19/00: D.C.'s gag order for Christians
06/16/00: Dads, daughters, and PETA's spoilsports
06/13/00: Tune out Eminem's pitiful "poetry"
06/07/00: "Pained" Dem leader Torricelli deserves to feel some; Why hasn't he?
06/05/00: Tom Green's hidden health-care lesson
06/01/00: Farming out the pork
05/30/00: The perils of medical quackery
05/26/00: Awarding medals by race is a disgrace
05/22/00: Have Simon & Schuster execs lost their minds!?
05/17/00: Sports plebes vs. plutocrats
05/15/00: Whitewashing Red China's record
05/12/00: Our mothers' hands
05/08/00: Focus on the real Waco
05/05/00: An Internet victim's sad story
05/03/00: Phony pooh-bahs of journalism
05/01/00: Zoo tragedy triggers dumb reaction
04/24/00: Ecoterrorists on the loose
04/19/00: Beware of Elian's psychobabblers
04/17/00: The truth about Erin Brockovich
04/13/00: In defense of an armed citizenry
04/10/00: Playing hardball with taxpayers
04/06/00: Read W.'s lips: More new spending
04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
03/03/00: Double standard for day traders?
02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
02/15/00: The Baby Brain Boondoggle
02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
01/10/00: Time for smokers' revolt?
12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
12/20/99: Who will help the Hmong?
12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
12/09/99: Look behind the Pokemon curtain
12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
10/27/99: AOL goes AWOL on parents
10/22/99: The persecution of Harry Potter
10/20/99: Don't doctor the law
10/14/99: The trouble with kids today
10/12/99: Pro-animal, pro-abortion, anti-speech?
10/07/99: Beltway press corps needs more skunks
09/30/99: ESPN overlooks athlete of faith, grace, and guts
09/27/99: Personal freedom going up in smoke
09/15/99: Farewell, "Miss" America
09/10/99: Will George W. work for a color-blind America?
09/03/99: Feminization of gun debate drowns out sober analysis
08/27/99: America is abundant land of equal-opportunity insult
08/10/99: Protect the next generation from diversity do-goodism
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06/25/99: Speechless in Seattle
06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2001, Creators Syndicate