Cicione Takes on RI Insiders and Corporate Welfare

RI GOP head Gio Cicione takes on “corporate welfare queens” and Rhode Island’s Groundhog Day-like “economic development strategies” in an op-ed in today’s ProJo. A portion:

For eight years, I was responsible for policy development for the Economic Development Corporation….I realized that the economic development strategies of this state were never intended to grow the economy. Instead, they were simply the ultimate source of political handouts, insider trading, and corporate welfare….we have nothing but a quasi-legitimized system of stealing from the poor and giving to the rich — and only a select few of the rich, at that.
When one state tries to outsmart the rest by targeting a particular industry or company, it is trying to do something even Wall Street can’t do consistently. We’ve created special deals for software companies, investment companies, call centers, and many more, and still we are in the tank. We excel at addressing the symptom, not the cause, of our economic woes. (Of course, the cure is great for the companies that took the handout — they always feel better).
Now our legislative leaders want more of the same, and, unfortunately, they want to do this on the backs of the small businesses that make up the core of our economy. What they fail to understand — or intentionally ignore — is that only broad-based strategies help the economy, and that targeted strategies only help the politicians and the corporate welfare queens.
We are in “tax hell” because our rates are too high. We can’t lower them because, after all the special deals are accounted for, only the little guy pays full freight. Alas, there are too many hands in the cookie jar for the legislators to seriously consider fixing this. Even if they know better, they prove repeatedly that they are just political cowards, more afraid of losing elections than hurting the economy.

This leads in to his call to arms for help in changing the system by voting Republican. It’s a slightly different message than previously offered, I think. Making the case that RI Republicans believe that big business shouldn’t be benefiting from a Rooseveltian managed economy and taking up the cause of the mom-and-pop’s by fighting against the embedded interests and government insiders and the aforementioned corporate welfare queens all taps into Rhode Island’s populist vein. Will it work?

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michael
michael
13 years ago

I had just about given up any leanings I had toward the Republican party when I read Gio’s piece. Maybe there is hope, I thought the current mentality was to blame unions for everything.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

It’s good to see a Republican call shenanigans on the companies who take state government handouts and don’t follow through on promises of economic development, jobs, etc. That’s a big economic problem you won’t hear the Carcieri crowd talk about.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

You mean like when Fidelity moved 1,200 jobs to Smithfield in order to get the tax credits and then less than 18 months later, laid off 900 of those employees?

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

Interesting point.
We very much need companies of all sizes in Rhode Island. Yet Democrats in the General Assembly, who supposedly are on the side of the little guys, have acted for big corporations.
As Cicione says, the solution for corporate welfare is pretty straightforward: improve the business climate, presently at rock bottom, across the board. That way, favors don’t have to be unfairly handed out to get corporations to move and stay here.

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