Hand That Feeds Bites Back At “House of Cards”

As a long-time critic of the film subsidy scams that have swept many states in the last few years, I truly enjoyed this news from Maryland via the Baltimore Sun‘s Timothy Wheeler:

Responding to a threat that the “House of Cards” television series may leave Maryland if it doesn’t get more tax credits, the House of Delegates adopted budget language Thursday requiring the state to seize the production company’s property if it stops filming in the state.

Media Rights Capital, the Beverly Hills, Calif., company producing the popular Netflix show, wrote Gov. Martin O’Malley that it was putting off work on its third season until it could be assured that sufficient tax credits would be approved. If those weren’t forthcoming, it said it would break down its film stage and move it to another state.

Del. William Frick, a Montgomery County Democrat, proposed the provision, which orders the state to use the right of eminent domain to buy or condemn the property of any company that has claimed $10 million or more credits against the state income tax. The provision would appear to apply only to the Netflix series, which has gotten the bulk of the state credits.

Frick deployed an analogy sure to stir up Marylanders who remember another famous corporate extortion from back in the day:

In an allusion to the Baltimore Colts team leaving Maryland in the middle of the night in Mayflower moving vans after the owners didn’t get a promised new stadium, depriving the state of a professional football team for years, Frick said, “We’ll make sure the next set of Mayflower vans are going back empty.”

Love it. Maybe this attitude will catch on, and entertainment companies will stop playing their “race to the bottom” game of demanding ever-more-lavish public underwriting of their production costs.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.