In these days of polarized politics, there was a small sign of a coalition this week.
Voices that range — and it’s quite a range — on the left from the newly-elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a democratic socialist, to labor unions and local Democratic Queens leaders to The Wall Street Journal‘s conservative editorial page and Tucker Carlson of Fox News denounced the deal New York City and state struck with Amazon to locate one of its headquarters in the borough of Queens.
Amazon has a market capitalization of more than $800 billion. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, is the richest man in the world, worth more than $130 billion.
Yet Amazon will unblushingly accept more than almost $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies from New York state and New York City to open in Queens.
Amazon will also receive subsidies to open a second-second headquarters in Arlington County, Va., but about half as costly.
Ocasio-Cortez said the fact that a billionaire’s company will receive more billions, “when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.”
State Sen.-elect Jessica Ramos of Queens told a rally, “It is unconscionable that we — in the middle of the housing crisis, in the middle of the public transportation crisis — have to dole out so many handouts to the richest company in the world.”
On the other end of the spectrum, The Wall Street Journal, which customarily sees virtue in wealth, points out that New York citizens will pay $48,000 per worker for each of the 25,000 jobs, paying $150,000 a year, that Amazon says their company will bring to Queens.
The Journal observed, “Apparently bodega owners in Brooklyn are supposed to be happy about subsidizing a third of the salaries of hipster techies.”
New York political leaders, including the governor and mayor, often say they have to offer subsidies and tax breaks to companies that would bring jobs because New York must compete against states like Florida or Texas that have no state income tax.
But rather than cut taxes for all, they will reward tax breaks to a selective few. As Assembly member Ron Kim of Queens asked, “Now in the progressive state of New York, we have a governor who gave away $3 billion to the richest man on the planet?”
If only for a moment, Amazon seems to have brought different political voices together — in outrage.