The Seattle Times editorial board recently pointed out the obvious: The University of Washington, Microsoft and Boeing are the “best investments” made by the state of Washington over the last generation. Via the Seattle Times:
“Taxpayer support at important points helped propel all three forward. The public’s return on those investments is incredible — all three entities created priceless economic clusters, tens of thousands of jobs and a culture of innovation carrying us forward.”
The editorial came following liberals attacks on Boeing after financial reports revealed the aerospace giant saved $305 million through state tax breaks last year. In defense of Boeing, the Times points out that tax breaks correspond to spending levels.
Boeing spent a whopping $13 billion — that’s “direct spending and doesn’t include expenditures or payroll of suppliers, such as carbon-fiber experts gearing up in Everett” — in our state last year. Thus, the fact that Boeing saved $305 million isn’t all that surprising. Via the Seattle Times:
“Perhaps the state could have done a better job forecasting the size of tax breaks it was providing. Either way, the Boeing spending that resulted shows that it was a good investment.”
The Times editorial board makes great points. There is, however, a big problem with the way the argument is presented.
According to the editorial board, the University of Washington, Microsoft and Boeing are our state’s “best investments.” However, the only actual “investment” out of the three is the University of Washington.
Referring to Boeing or Microsoft tax breaks as “investments” isn’t much better than referring to them as “corporate welfare” or some sort of government “subsidy deal.” They are tax reductions case on specific activity, not a government investment, handout, subsidy, or “corporate welfare” scheme.
As Shift has pointed out, Washington State did not give Boeing money. The company could have done business elsewhere (particularly production of the 777X) and left our state without anything. Boeing saved its own money and, in return, invested billions in our state.
The only “investment” that was made is on the part of Boeing and Microsoft, and it’s an investment in our state.