Romney: For Govt. Handouts Before He Was Against Them

How did Mitt Romney turn the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games into such a financial success? Just your modern conservative grift, of course! By funneling taxpayer money away from public services and straight into the pockets of private, for-profit entities. From the memory hole, December 2001 Sports Illustrated edition:

For the past few years, while attention was focused on the Great Olympic Bribery Scandal—in which Salt Lake City boosters dispensed as much as $7 million in gifts, travel, scholarships, medical care, jobs and other goodies to IOC members (and their relatives and companions) to ensure that Utah’s capital city would be chosen to host the 2002 Winter Games—private and public interests have siphoned an estimated $1.5 billion out of the U.S. Treasury, all in the name of those same Olympics. Two months before the Games, Utah has already walked away with the gold while setting records in four categories:

Total federal handouts. The $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars that Congress is pouring into Utah is 1� times the amount spent by lawmakers to support all seven Olympic Games held in the U.S. since 1904—combined. In inflation-adjusted dollars.

Enrichment of private interests. For the first time, private enterprises—primarily ski resorts and real estate developments-stand to derive significant long-term benefits from Games-driven congressional giveaways.

Most government entities tapped for cash. With all the skill, grace and precision of a hockey team on a power play, Utah’s five-member congressional delegation has used the Olympics to drain money from an unprecedented number of federal departments, agencies and offices—some three dozen in all, from the Office of National Drug Control Policy to the Agriculture Department.

Most U.S. tax dollars per athlete. Federal spending for the Salt Lake City Games will average $625,000 for each of the 2,400 athletes who will compete. (Not a penny of it will go to the athletes.) That’s a 996% increase from the $57,000 average for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. It’s a staggering 5,582% jump from the $11,000 average for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Again, these are inflation-adjusted dollars. (If the minimum wage had gone up at the same pace since ’84, the average McDonald’s hamburger flipper today would earn $190 an hour.)

Earmarks, gotta love ’em. This is why business people make such lousy public servants. They don’t understand the concept of government being not-for-profit, the idea of the public good, the commons, or that the Treasury is not their personal slush fund. All they know how to do is grift and fleece and help their friends.

It’s that overarching sense of entitlement: what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.

The article takes an in-depth look at the billionaires and multi-millionaires who got ever-richer at the taxpayer trough thanks to Mitt Romney’s boondoggle, plus some of the convoluted schemes and sleight-of-hand maneuvering that made it all happen. For instance, check out C.C. Myers, billionaire construction magnate and private developer, who got the sweetest deal of all: a brand-new, two-mile-long road (and utilities!) built straight through his private real estate development, all paid for by the federal government. Here’s the best part:

One obstacle remained to the speedy construction of the two-mile access road, to be known as Bear Hollow Drive. If the Utah Department of Transportation, the state agency responsible for highway construction, handled the job, it could insist on building the road to meet both county and state standards, a costly requirement. Again, not to worry. The Olympics make all things possible.

The Utah Sports Authority assigned responsibility to the state’s Division of Facilities Construction & Management, an agency that builds buildings, not highways. The result might have been anticipated: a winding, two-lane road with grades exceeding county standards and prone to slides and sinkholes.

Regulations, schmegulations! Who needs ’em! They’re just an oppressive block to job creators! Who cares if public money paid for a crappy road, prone to slides and sinkholes? Myers doesn’t. After all, it’s the public who pays to clear off the debris and fix the potholes. Plus, he made a mint:

The road paid off handsomely for Myers and his partners. County assessment records show that in 1990 the Summit Ranch land was valued for tax purposes at about $3 million. Ten years later the land alone—excluding the houses that had been built—was valued at $48 million, a sixteenfold increase. In the last year sale prices for homes in the partnership’s development, known as Sun Peak, have ranged between $320,000 and $1.5 million.

Welcome to Mitt Romney’s world. You want more of that good ol’ fashioned American grift? Where the 1% can pretend to be hardy, boot-strap pulling American entrepreneurs who got where they are by the sweat of their brow? Hoping you won’t notice they’ve got their hands in the taxpayer till? Then vote for Mitt Romney next November, he’ll subject the whole country to his warped notion of free market principles.

2 Comments

Filed under 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, Olympic Games

2 responses to “Romney: For Govt. Handouts Before He Was Against Them

  1. Mittunswillard should be glad that his father is dead. I think George would have backhanded him a couple of times and told him to get his shit together.

  2. John Weiss

    Screw Mittins, and I don’t mean in the nice way. What a jerk! Of course he’s doing himself in.

    Barak must win, or we’re all fucked for the rest of our lives.

    Time to get busy.

    JW