Who can be against tax breaks for businesses if it means more jobs will be created? How about the businesses that don't get the breaks? How about the taxpayers, when the game of tax-break roulette goes the wrong way?
When the economy boomed, Indianapolis handed Navistar International $18 million in tax breaks for new machinery. But the recession has soured the tax deal for the city.
After the massive Eastside diesel plant closed, idling nearly 1,000 workers last year, Indianapolis demanded that Navistar return the cash, saying the deal ended when the jobs fell away.
When Navistar refused to repay the money, the city faced a long dispute in court. Rather than run up a big legal bill, Mayor Greg Ballard's administration agreed the city would accept $5 million from the company.
Navistar kept $13 million, a relatively small amount for an engine- and truck-maker with 2009 profits of $320 million on $11.5 billion in sales. Meanwhile, the Illinois-based manufacturer continues to rely on other government aid to help boost profits in the recession.
If you get a break from something, that's a good thing, right? But that means that not getting the break from the something is a bad thing, which means that the something itself is bad. That being the case, why not make all taxes reasonable and justifiable so that no company would need a tax break? Because then officials wouldn't be able to act like petty little tyrants, enjoying the power of life or death they have over companies, that's why.