Q. What's your position on Gov. Cuomo's Startup New York initiative, which offers steep tax breaks for businesses that locate or expand in New York?
A: Gov. Cuomo's economic development policy boils down to favors — tax breaks. Startup New York, his marquee project, is effectively just a 10-year corporate giveaway. What this means is that the program is cutting deals, not forming substantive policy. Pitting states and even areas within New York against one another just to shift around jobs and economic activity does nothing to promote sustainable business and job creation, nor guarantee it'll stick around once the giveaways expire. A real economic development policy would address the root issues hampering business growth, like access to credit and marketplaces so dominated by giant companies that it is impossible to compete. Swaths of New York lack the fast and reliable Internet you need to compete in a 21st century economy. So a real innovation policy would push cable companies to compete and build out and improve service.
Note that Teachout is far to the left of Cuomo, who took office as a pragmatic centrist pledging to improve the Empire State's business climate but has been lolling left ever since, at least when it comes to raising taxes, halting fracking, and the like. Cuomo recently signed off on supporting a minimum wage hike in an explicit deal to nail down the Working Families Party's endorsement of his re-election campaign.
Teachout is a Fordham law prof and her agenda strikes me as terrible despite her substantive charges of cronyism, dumb subsidies, and worse. If there's one thing New York doesn't need, it's more power emanating from Albany. There's no reason to think that Teachout or Wu will get New York out of the cellar of the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Rankings.
But as Matt Welch and I have talked about in various places, it's always good to see incumbents getting primaryed. It's the best way to keep partys and voters involved and on the up and up. Which is exactly what Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told Reason TV last week. Take it away:
REASON:…You famously primaryed a long time incumbent. Are primarying candidates generally a good idea, even if the challenger doesn't win? Like McDaniel versus Thad Cochran in Mississippi it's an analogous situation. Is that a place where the lines are kind of clearly drawn, where you have a guy who has been in power for a long time and always seems to be happy to go along, spend a lot of money, versus a challenger. Is there a clear choice there for you on whom to back in that situation?
LEE: In order for the Republican party, or any political party for that matter, to be able to lay any claim to being a party of principle, there needs to be a robust debate within that party. And for that to occur I think primary elections will always need to happen.
Watch Lee talk about "Killing the Export-Import Bank, Primarying Republicans, and Mormonism" below. Full transcript and links here.