With help from Governor Blagojevich
By Chuck Muth
Ho, ho, ho-ly cow! Boy, did Christmas come early for Illinois’ dying horse track industry this year or what?
Here’s the issue in a nutshell. People in Illinois aren’t going to horse tracks the way they used to. It’s a dying industry. On the other hand, people are going to Illinois casinos. It’s a thriving industry. So two years ago the Illinois Legislature passed a new “temporary” 3 percent tax on the four most successful casinos in the state and redirected the money to the unsuccessful horse racing industry in an effort to “save” it.
But it’s hard to even call this a tax since not a dime of the money went to the state or to any other public use.
So if this punitive “Success Tax” isn’t exactly a tax, what would you call it? Well, Barack Obama – himself a former Illinois state legislator – would call it “spreading the wealth.” Karl Marx, the well-known socialist, would call it “From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs.” Robin Hood would call it “robbing the rich and giving to the poor.” Of course, common street thugs would probably call it something far simpler…
“Stick ‘em up!”
The four casinos slapped with the “Success Tax” challenged it in the Illinois courts. But they rolled snake-eyes there – which probably should come as no surprise. Why would anyone think that judges who come out of such a corrupt, anti-business political environment would think and act any differently on this issue than your average Chicago community organizer?
Indeed, the Illinois Supreme Court gave its “Good Comrade” stamp of approval to this government imposed and enforced redistribution of wealth scheme. The gaming companies have appealed to the United States Supreme Court where, if there’s any justice, the legislation will be struck down. The problem is the conservative Roberts Court may well decline to even review the case, seeing it as a state rather than federal issue.
At which point that should be the end of it. Remember, the tax was only “temporary.” It was to sunset this year. And the money has already been deducted and is being held in an escrow account pending the end of the appeals process, at which time it will be released to the prevailing party.
Alas, once government gets its claws into you it’s virtually impossible for them to let go. So two weeks ago the Illinois Legislature passed the 3 percent “tax” again. As it turns out, two years of taking some $80 million from successful private casino companies and giving it to unsuccessful private horse racing companies didn’t do the trick.
Unfortunately, that’s not where this extortion story ends. Enter Illinois Gov. Rod “Pay to Play” Blagojevich.
Page 39 of the recent criminal complaint issued by the United States against “Don Blago” is a reference to “a law which involves directing a percentage of casino revenue to the horse
racing industry” – which the governor has since signed back into law. Reading the transcript of the recorded conversations between the governor and “Fundraiser A” at the behest of “Contributor 1,” it almost sounds like one of those jokes: “A governor, a fundraiser, and a lobbyist walk into a bar…”
But there’s nothing funny about the Legislature and governor confiscating money from one business to hand to another. I mean, isn’t that what a congressional bailout is for?
In any event, this sad state of affairs in Illinois is likely a preview of what’s in store in the coming Obama-nation. Businesses and individuals who dare to be successful and make a profit will be looted to fund failure and sloth.
But those cheering on this new American “tax the rich, feed the poor” socialism should take note of the end of that song lyric: “Until there are no rich no more.” Like it or not, the reality is that poor people don’t start companies. Poor people don’t create jobs. And poor people don’t pay $80 million to prop up horse tracks.
The Obama socialists better be careful what they wish for.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.