There’s a case to be made for public subsidies for sports arenas, as a sort of combination public works and long-term city-building investment. But it sure doesn’t require much courage to throw somebody else’s money at rich team owners’ bottom lines. And when blackmail threats are in play, it’s essentially a race-to-the-bottom response, especially in a state like Wisconsin where you have the very different model of the community-owned Green Bay Packers.
But there’s something especially disgusting about Scott Walker, that brave rebel against Big Labor and Big Government, tossing public money at the Milwaukee Bucks by approving a state appropriation covering half the cost of a new arena for the NBA team. As Paul Waldman tartly notes, the amount of money involved ought to ring a bell:
That $250 million that taxpayers will be spending for the benefit of a single private enterprise just happens to be the same amount that Walker succeeded in cutting from the state’s university system this year. And an interesting sidelight to the story is that one of the Bucks owners, Jon Hammes, is a national finance co-chairman of Walker’s campaign and has given $150,000 to a Walker super PAC.
I guess you could say Walker caved to the Bucks while giving Bucky Badger the shaft.
But one might have expected more from a politician who is basing his presidential campaign on his eagerness to “fight.” This combativeness is central to Walker’s appeal — but it turns out that he’s only interested in fighting people like union members. Extortionist plutocrats, not so much.