We now know for sure Showboat Casino Hotel will close Aug. 31 – the third failing casino property of the year following the Atlantic Club being chopped up and sold for parts and the continuing money pit that is Revel Casino. And Americans for Prosperity (AFP) – the Koch Bros-funded group that right-winger (and handicapped white guy and cancer support group leader and serial candidate Steve Lonegan used to run in New Jersey – has some thoughts:
In a statement today, they complain about the all the “subsidies, tax breaks, and taxpayer-funded low-interest loans in the world (that) are not going to bring Atlantic City back”. Yeah, baby. They call Revel “an epic bust,” and decry the “corporate welfare” the state’s throwing at AC. The state “needs to stop trying to micromanage it back into relevance. Whoa, harsh. Better not tell the folks on AC’s new gay beach that.
I’ve got a problem with corporate welfare, too. More on that in a bit. And I’ve always been uncomfortable with New Jersey’s interest in using public money to create (or prop up) opportunities for working joes to gamble. It’s OK entertainment if you’re in control, and I know it has fans. But it also suckers the poor. Ditto the lottery, not a fan.
But let’s get clear on a couple things here. The casinos, as a labor leader at Unite HERE Local 54 says, never cared about Atlantic City. The casinos were a glass wall that divided the city from its own shore, and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) soon shifted focus from housing there to casino/hotel-centered projects aimed at making AC competitive. And the surrounding areas (many of them mostly white) boomed while the city – largely black and with unaddressed hard-core unemployment, and problems that go with it – didn’t.
But that’s not why AFP objects. They don’t care how many people – many of them unionized – are going to lose their jobs this summer. When you get down to it, AFP barely recognizes unionized people as people. Atlantic City is easy for them to take a shot at because for years many of the politicians running looking after it have been Democrats (new mayor Don Guardian’s not a Dem, but he and his gay beach aren’t exactly their kind of Republican).
But beyond that, it’s funny that it’s AFP trying to claim the high ground against corporate welfare.