The Corner

Economy & Business

Virginia Gives Away the Store to Amazon

A building in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia, November 6, 2018. (Al Drago/Reuters )

Amazon’s deal with the Virginia state government to put part of their new headquarters in Crystal City is now official, and the details are dribbling out. Just about all of them are bad.

Begin with the otherworldly claim that “regional and local transit systems have significant unused capacity, even during peak travel periods.” Washington regularly tops the list of worst traffic in the country and the world, with drivers spending “63 hours on average last year in congestion during peak hours.” The Metro System continues to struggle with persistent problems with delays, long-overdue repairs, accidents, and struggles to function in bad weather. The assessment that there is significant unused public and private transportation capacity during peak travel periods can only be reached after using LSD.

The state of Virginia is giving Amazon more than a half-billion dollars, with the local government of Arlington kicking in another $23 million.

Amazon will receive performance-based direct incentives of $573 million based on the company creating 25,000 jobs with an average wage of over $150,000 in Arlington. This includes a workforce cash grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia of up to $550 million based on $22,000 for each job created over the next 12 years. Amazon will only receive this incentive if it creates the forecasted high-paying jobs. The company will also receive a cash grant from Arlington of $23 million over 15 years based on the incremental growth of the existing local Transient Occupancy Tax, a tax on hotel rooms.

In other words, Arlington is raising taxes in order to pay Amazon to locate there. This is not how government and taxation are supposed to work.

This deal should be tattooed onto the forehead of Governor Ralph Northam. Never let a Virginia Democrat ever claim that Republicans are “in the pocket of big business and special interests” again.

At least the most powerful media institution in the region, the Washington Post, will stand up to this giant corporate giveaway — oh, wait a minute, Jeff Bezos owns that, too.

Technically, this is good news for the real-estate value of the National Review Fairfax County Bureau, a.k.a, Jim’s House. But the Washington and northern Virginia real-estate markets were already expensive, and the Washington area’s cost of living was already high. Arlington’s cost of living is 92 percent higher than the U.S. average. All Amazon’s move is going to do is make an expensive housing market even more expensive, and a high cost of living even higher.

What’s more, this region is so blue it’s Sapphire — but few Democrats will raise any voices in objection. Most local Democratic officials are perfectly fine with corporatism as long as they’re the ones who get to give the speeches at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

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